Freeze your leftovers for later or save them for lunch America Recycles Day was November 15th and this year's theme was "Feed People, Not Landfills." Here in the United States we throw away 14% of the food we purchase. That equals an average of 470 pounds of food in the trash at a cost to a family of four of nearly $600 per year. There's no need for me to tell you that this is a big waste of money but did you know that it's also hurting the environment? When excess food, leftover food, and food scraps wind up in a landfill, they decompose and become a significant source of methane - a potent greenhouse gas.
Here are 10 tips to help you reduce food waste in your home:
1. Know the expiration dates of the food you have in your kitchen and use it up before it expires.
2. Just as they do in the grocery store, rotate foods in your fridge and cabinets so that the oldest items are in the front where they'll be used up first.
3. Take advantage of your refrigerator's features. Keep produce in the crispers and meats and cold cuts in the temperature-controlled meat bin at a low setting.
4. Think "what do we have to eat?" instead of "what do I want to eat?" Use up the food you've already bought instead of buying more.
5. Plan your menus for the week ahead and make a shopping list. Shop for just those things on your list in quantities that you can and will use before they spoil.
6. If you have restaurant leftovers, bring them home in a doggy bag. But be sure to get them home and into the fridge within 2 hours or less unless they're going to be left in a cold (below 40°F) car.
7. Freeze and/or use up your leftovers - take leftovers from dinner to work for lunch. Be sure to check out our story on the best food storage containers.
8. Turn leftovers into a completely different meal with some of our great ideas for leftovers or enter "leftover recipes" on your Internet browser and get lots of suggestions for different kinds of leftover food.
9. Find your local food bank and find out what you can donate to food banks, soup kitchens, and shelters.
10. Check with your local government solid waste agency for information on local composting resources, and if they don't offer collection for composting, suggest that they start. Or check out findacomposter.com for a composter near you who may be able to take your food scraps and yard wastes or learn how to compost in your own backyard.
What do you do to reduce food waste in your home? Let me know in the comments!
-by Sharon Franke
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