It’s becoming increasingly urgent to reduce food waste, not only due to the economic impact it brings to the individual budget, but also because of its inherently social and environmental issues. So, we share with you some of the strategies that you can implement on your day-to-day schedule, to help avoid it.
What strategies can you implement?
It’s a broad range when it comes to food waste, which includes the first steps from production to table, i.e., farm to consumer. The scope will include waste due to mold or pests, an inadequacy in climate control; loss from cooking; and intentional food waste.
1. Buying rationally
One of the main strategies to avoid food waste that should be applied from the moment of the purchase is buying only the foods you need, in the necessary portions.
In this sense, the ideal would be that before you go to the supermarket, sketch a groceries list, so that you can avoid falling into temptation, especially with promotional discounts or getting carried away by cravings.
Besides the matter, pay attention to the quantities you’re buying. Avoid purchasing high amounts of perishable foods or with a short life span, such as fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, and dairy, that most likely you won’t be finishing off in due time, because of maturation/deterioration, or even because of the short expiration dates.
Whenever you feel the need to buy larger portions of these foods, try to ensure that you’ll freeze them or that you have available storage space to keep these foods so they don’t spoil.
2. Pay attention to expiration dates
Many commercial facilities have policies in place of when a product is reaching the end of its expiration date, which will have them lower the price tag, particularly when it comes to perishable foods.
Acquiring these types of products is a way to avoid food waste, that is still in a perfect way to be ingested, and proves to be an excellent option to include in the same day or next day meals after you buy them.
However, you should avoid buying large quantities of these foods so that you may avoid their deterioration at home, where you’ll have no other option but to discard them.
In the case of not so perishable foods, pay special attention to the expiration date, so that you can purchase the ones with the farthest expiration date possible.
3. Organise foods by arrival time
FIFO and FEFO may seem odd wordings to you, but they’ll sure help you organise your groceries at home.
- FIFO (first-in, first-out): this means that the foods that got in the house first, should be the ones first to eat. It’s a highly recommended method to organise foods with a more extended expiration date. For example, if you already had canned goods at home and you bought some more, you should store the older ones up front, placing the newer ones farther behind.
- FEFO (first expire, first-out): this means that the food with the nearest expiration date should be consumed first. This method is particularly interesting in fresh foods, like dairy, for example.
You should, in conclusion, organise your meals by prioritising what you already had at home.
4. Store foods correctly
Fresh foods are the most perishable and are subject to deterioration due to fungi and mold that may arise. Therefore, you should guarantee that you’ll store them correctly to avoid this issue.
Foods like potatoes, garlic, onion, peppers, and tomatoes, are foods that should be stored at room temperature, whilst others such as kale, broccoli, lettuce, carrot, or eggplant should be placed in the fridge.
When it comes to fruits, in the moment of storing, you should sort out the ones that release more ethylene (the hormone that boosts fruit ripening which makes them more prone to deterioration) from the ones that release it in scarcer quantities, so that you can better control the ripening of the latter.
Among the fruits that will release the most ethylene, there are bananas, tomatoes, cantaloupe, avocado, peaches, and pears. Sort these fruits and store them apart from others sensitive to fungi contamination, like apples, red fruits, and peppers, among others.
What’s more, you should check frequently for the ripening status of the fruits. If any starts to rot, discard it right away so that it doesn’t contaminate the rest in the bowl.
Regarding other fresh produce, they should be placed in an orderly manner, in the fridge, according to the level of cold they require. Fish, and meat can be placed in the colder areas of the fridge (closer to the freezer), the cooked foods on the middle shelves, and in the lesser cold areas, we store vegetables and fruit.
5. Freeze foods
One of the other most effective strategies to minimise food waste and increase food’s life span is through the freezing process, a method that preserves, almost fully, the nutritional value of foods.
For correct freezing of foods and to enhance their conservation, you should freeze foods in their fresher state (for example, meat/fish of the day, meals cooked on that day).
Another way would be to freeze them closer to the purchase moment, because, as time goes by, the risk of microorganisms contamination increases, and there are nutritional losses occurring that will go through the frozen food, inhibiting this conservation method’s potential.
Foods should be kept in hermetic bags (“freezing bags”) or Tupperware so that an optimal conservation state is guaranteed.
6. Resorting to canned and conserved products to avoid buying fresh produce in excess
Another great strategy for better management of your food stock at home: opt for canned and conserved products in your cabinet/pantry, so there’s no need to buy just fresh meat and fish, which will usually generate more waste.
The reason is that besides being a practical and versatile choice, they come with a wider life span and don’t require any specific storing conditions (just keep them in a cool, dark, dry place). Ultimately, they can be used as a safety resource for whenever you buy less fresh fish/meat.
7. Resorting to apps that promote the reduction of food waste
Because it’s becoming such a mainstream agenda, several apps were created that seek to involve the consumers in the reduction of food waste. With these apps, you can access foods/meals originating from supermarkets or restaurants, at a fairly lower rate.
Besides being auspicious for you, it’ll help save these foods/meals that would, otherwise, be wasted. By selecting the place where you intend to buy, several available baskets are presented to you, sorting the types of meals they contain, with a 50% reduction on the price tag.
After using the app, usable points are assigned to you, that can be used in the orders you submit next.
Advantages of Preventing Wasted Food at Home
As suggested by The United States Environmental Protection Agency, some of the advantages of preventing wasted food at home are:
- When buying exactly what you need, eating what you buy, and avoiding food waste, you’ll save money. The average of money spent on food is £1191,70, each year per family, where the remainder is waste.
- Environmental and climate change footprint reduction.
- Save resources and energy. When there is food waste, there is also a waste of the land, water, energy, and other inputs that are used in producing, processing, transporting, preparing, storing, and disposing of the food.
- A reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Over 85 percent of GHG emissions from landfilled food waste are caused by activities before the disposal of food in a landfill, including the production, transport, processing, and distribution of food. What’s more, decomposing food in a landfill leads to the emission of methane, a potent greenhouse gas—and food is the single largest category of material placed in municipal landfills. Municipal solid waste landfills are the third-largest source of human-related methane emissions in the United States.
Furthermore, unstable markets cause food loss long before it arrives in a supermarket, while overbuying, poor planning and confusion over labels and safety will lead to food waste at stores and in homes.