Hello dear friends!
Today, I'm sharing with you a guest blog post from an incredible, resourceful, health-focused woman that I had the pleasure of meeting at last year's Paleo f(x) conference! We're both passionate about clean food, non-toxic living, and being conscious of our resources, so a blog about reducing food waste seemed perfect.
You can read about my friend Gina at the bottom of this post. But in the meantime, let's hear her tips for cutting back on food waste!
Food waste is a huge deal. Not only does it waste resources, but it also wastes money. Luckily there are 5 simple ways to reduce food waste that you can implement today!
Up to 40 percent of the food in the United States is never eaten. But at the same time, one in eight Americans struggles to put enough food on the table. - Natural Resources Defense Council
1. Plan your meals
I am a huge fan of meal planning. Every week, I take 20 minutes to sit down and plan out about 70% of my meals. I consider my schedule for the week, and I try to be realistic about how much time I will have. After I have my meals planned, I make a shopping list, so I know exactly what I will need.
Taking time to meal plan will help you in several ways:
- Makes eating healthier more convenient
- Save money because you are less likely to eat out when dinner is already planned, and you have everything you need already
- Reduces your food waste, because you only buy the food you have a real plan for
- You avoid shopping when you are hungry… because we all know what happens then.
2. Have go-to “recipes”
Every Sunday evening, go through your fridge and pull out anything left over from the week. Play your own game of Chopped: what can you make? There are dishes that lend themselves well to incorporating odds and ends. My favorites are soups and curries. Both can use veggies that are a little past their prime.
My formula for a simple curry is more of a guideline than a recipe, but it’s my go-to way to sure up random leftovers and veggies that probably won’t make it another week.
Bone broth is an excellent way to get some use of vegetable scraps you would typically throw away. Onion peels, stems, and trimmings will add flavor, nutrition, and color to your broth.
3. Utilize Your Freezer
Freezing obviously prevents food from spoiling, but did you know that it also makes some micronutrients more bioavailable? I always have frozen veggies on hand to roast up quick.
Keeping your smoothie greens in the freezer has many benefits:
- Prevents your leafy greens from going bad
- Makes some micronutrients more bioavailable
- Keeping your smoothie cold while blending protects nutrients from oxidation (so does a splash of lemon juice).
- Allows you to assemble your smoothie ahead of time
Who hasn’t bought a big bag of greens at Costco with the intention to make smoothies...then not...?
You can also freeze things you will not use right away. Things like lunch/raw meat, fresh herbs, and bone broth freeze well also.
4. Keep a clean and organized Fridge
Regularly going through your fridge will help reduce food waste. It prevents food getting pushed back in the corner to rot. It also gives you a better idea of what you have so you can use it.
This also goes for your freezer- keep it organized, and go through it a couple of times a year. If meat is too freezer-burned for you to eat, consider feeding it to your four-legged friend.
5. Eat your leftovers
This seems too obvious to mention, but eating your leftovers reduces food waste. As simple as this seems, this is huge! I rarely plan 7 different dinners. Typically, I plan on eating leftovers 2-3 dinners, or I plan on utilizing leftovers for lunches. I pack lunch for myself, husband, and kids most days. If it's not a jar salad, it's leftovers!
Reducing food waste is a huge step you can take towards living greener. Remember, when you throw out food you are wasting the resources it took to grow, transport, and prepare. Luckily these 5 simple steps will take you a long way in maximising your nutrition and minimizing your footprint!
Gina Ciolkosz is a Personal Health Cook and American Council on Exercise (ACE) certified Health Coach located in Anchorage Alaska. Her background includes a Bachelor’s of Science in Physiology from the University of Wyoming. For the past six years, she has lived in Alaska, where she can’t get enough of the active Alaskan lifestyle that for her includes hunting, fishing, hiking, and the occasional weekend race. She loves to cook for people and enjoys the challenge of making healthy food taste delicious. Her family includes two young boys, two packgoats, and a rambunctious Weimaraner, as well as a very patient husband.
So friends, what are some of your tips for cutting down on food waste?
Share in the comments below!