The sheer quantity of food that’s wasted around the world is staggering. According to ThinkEatSave.org, each year, one-third of the annual global food production of food ends up in the trash. That’s about 1.3 billion tons of edible food, which is four times the amount of what’s needed to feed the 868 million that suffer from hunger.
At the individual level, a person wastes about 2,000 kilocalories of food a day, the same amount that could feed another person entirely. We as home cooks can do a lot to cut down on food waste in our kitchens. Here are a few simple tips for our everyday routines: how we shop, how we cook, and yes, how frozen food can help!
Planning is your best friend. A well-prepped list that plans for the week ahead will cut down on overbuying, which can leave you with excess produce or other materials that get lost in the pantry, or go bad.
Before hopping in the car, “shop your fridge” first! Check your fridge, freezer and pantry to see what ingredients you have that can be used, or incorporated into meals for the week. Unsure what to cook? Checking out what you already have is a great way to find some inspiration.
When it comes to buying produce at the grocery store, look for “ugly” fruits, which often get overlooked by other shoppers, and ultimately thrown away. They may have physical imperfections, but they are not rotten. Just as tasty and healthy as their more conventional looking counterparts. Pro tip:, these can sometimes be found at discounted prices!
Storage and Organization
A good storing job can extend the life of your fruits and veggies so they don’t spoil before you’re ready to use them. Not washing berries before they’re ready to eat will prevent mold. Extend the lives of fruit by storing them in the fridge. Herbs can be washed, dried well and placed in a slightly damp towel, placed in a plastic bag with a few puncture holes, to extend their life to one to two weeks.
See our recent Instagram post with quick tips on this, too!
A well organized kitchen will do wonders in cutting down on food waste. Whether it’s the pantry or the fridge, keep track of what you have with a clear system of organization. Keep an inventory if possible. When adding new things, we recommend placing them to the back and bringing forward what’s already there. This will help you keep track of things before they expire, and maybe inspire you to cook a meal with an ingredient you thought you didn’t have!
Understand Expiration Dates
A general confusion and misunderstanding of food expiration labels accounts for 20 percent of consumer food waste. We get it. It’s difficult to keep track when the language out there is as varied as the food it labels: best by, sell by, expires on, etc. There are no uniform or universally accepted descriptions used in the industry, which leaves manufacturers to apply dates at their own discretion. Often, it’s to inform consumers of the date with which the food will retain its intended quality and flavor. Unsure? The FDA recommends that you check if your product has changed in color, consistency, or color. Don’t forget that your nose doesn’t lie.
Leftovers and offcuts
Leftovers for lunch can hit the spot while saving you money and time. They can also be creatively reincorporated into new meals. Think using leftover roast potatoes for a frittata or hash.
Unsure what to do with fruit and vegetable offcuts like the tops of beets or strawberries? If you’re unable to compost, things like onion skins and herb or mushroom stems can be used to make a delicious vegetable stock, which can serve as a base for an endless variety of other meals. Fruit offcuts like strawberry tops or apple skins are great, nutrient-rich additions to smoothies.
Introduce Freezing and Frozen Food
The freezer can be a secret weapon in cutting down on food waste. It’s a great place to store prepped veggies or meats for meal prep, or already cooked stews or soups for the week ahead.
Here’s a hack for that:
We’d be remiss if we didn’t remind you of the important advances that frozen food has taken in recent years. The popular frozen food myths have been debunked: frozen can be as nutritious as fresh; all frozen food is highly processed; frozen food is more expensive; all food is frozen the same way. At Cadence Kitchen, our chef-driven recipes are made at an incredibly high standard to ensure a nutritious, tasty, and affordable option. Using our bulk bins also allows our consumers to take only as much as they need, while also being able to sample any of our meals before buying a larger amount.
The fact is, introducing frozen food can go a long way to offering convenient, delicious meals, while doing your part to help cut down on food waste. What are you doing with your shopping, cooking and eating rituals to cut down on food waste? We’d love to hear from you!
Spencer Jones is the Food Technologist at Cadence Kitchen, where he oversees the safe and efficient creation of our recipes and final products. The FoodTech industry is fast-paced and continually changing, and Spencer ensures Cadence Kitchen continues to drive trends while never sacrificing on quality, taste or sustainability in our practices and final meals.
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