Reduce Food Waste—Let Your Fridge Go Bare

Dec, 19, 2016

By Fredrica Syren:

 I used to love having my fridge and pantry fully stocked because it gave me so many options for cooking and we would eat well  or at least that’s what I thought. The truth is that there were days when I looked in the fridge and found nothing to eat, so instead we would go out to eat or I would even make another trip to the grocery store to buy missing ingredients for that perfect meal. At the end of the week, I would clean the fridge of lots of food past its prime, and it all would end up in the trashcan. I’m sure a few of you recognize this scenario as well. Looking back at it, I’m horrified about all the food wasted and all the money I spent on it each week.

 A few years ago when our family expanded to five people, I really started to look at our food situation and searched for a way to waste less food and spend less money on it. The solution was to let my fridge go bare. I know this sounds drastic and, well, not very doable with a hungry family of 5.  

 fridgeOf course I’m not suggesting to stop buying food or to let your fridge go completelyempty, but I am suggesting that one way to stop wasting food at home is to buy food onlywhen needed and try to eat first what is already available. So, the idea is to look at the ingredients you have at home and create a dish rather than look for a recipe and then buy whatever ingredients are missing from your fridge. Does that make sense? The bonus of this way of reducing food waste is that I save lots of money and eat healthier. 

 One great way to reduce food waste at home is to stock up on staple foods like rice, dried beans, quinoa and pasta. This way, it’s easier to stretch any perishable foods by makingthem into a hearty meal like a stew, soup or pasta sauce. 

 Another way to reduce food ending up in a landfill is to start composting. Here on green-mom.com, I have covered all kinds of composting, from bokashi composting, curbside composting and composting in an apartment to traditional composting. Composting is a great way to reduce waste and turn any food scraps into beautiful fertilizer. 

 20101120_cookbook_246Here are some sad facts about food waste:

• Almost one-third of all food produced worldwide each year is wasted.
• Organic waste is the second highest component of U.S. landfills, which are the largest sources of methane emissions.
• Food waste costs the U.S. $1 trillion a year.
• Food waste has increased by 50 percent since the 1970s, while the population has increased by only 13 percent since the 1970s.
• Food waste today is the largest solid waste contributor to landfills.
• Food waste in landfills creates methane — a gas with 25 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.
• Food waste is responsible for severe damage to natural resources  climate, water, land and biodiversity.

 A few ways you can reduce food waste is by doing the following:

• Before throwing away or composting food, try simmering vegetable tops and peels to make a soup broth. 
• When eating out, take your own doggie bag container or request a discount by ordering a smaller portion.
• Grocery shop wisely! 
• Embrace leftovers! 
• Keep the environment in mind when eating out! Compost!

Fredrika Syren

Fredrika Syren is an environmental activist and writer. In 2016, she founded the website Green-Mom.com where she shared her family’s journey of living zero waste. She lives in San Diego, California with her husband James and their children Bella, Noah, and Liam. Fredrika and her family were recently featured in the documentary Zero Time to Waste. Fredrika is also the author of Zero Waste for Families - A Practical Guidebook (which you can buy on this site)

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