9 Ways to Avoid Food Waste
Avoiding food waste can play a huge role in living more sustainably. It’s estimated that more than 40 million tons of uneaten or spoiled food ends up in U.S. landfills each year. That’s an average of 30 - 40% of edible food, which is equivalent to about 20 pounds of food, per person per month. Below are 9 helpful ways you can avoid food waste and live more sustainably.
“Shop” in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer weekly
Before you go to the grocery store, check your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer to see what you already have. You may be surprised by what’s left over from previous meals. Even if you can’t pull together a full meal, you can buy ingredients that compliment what’s already in your kitchen, buy less, and avoid waste.
Plan your meals
Reduce your food waste with meal planning. When you have the week’s meals preplanned, it takes the guesswork out of dinnertime and grocery shopping. You can also coordinate recipes that use the same ingredients.
Include quantities of food on your shopping list
Write down quantities on your grocery lists. Instead of listing generic items like “apples” or “milk,” estimate how much you’ll need or what you plan to make with that ingredient to help gauge how much you may actually use.
Store food properly
Storing your food properly is very important to avoid wasting food. When you store it in an optimal place and temperature, it stays fresher for longer. Make sure your refrigerator and freezer are set at and are maintaining manufacturers recommended settings. Keep milk in a sealed container in the fridge. Avoid storing it on the shelves by the door. For more tips on proper storage, see this link.
Treat your freezer like your best friend
Use up all your freezer space! Storing food in the freezer extends its lifespan. Foods like fruit, whole grains, and meats freeze well. You can even freeze your milk in your ice cube trays or in an airtight container with a half-inch gap at the top. Frozen milk is best used for cooking, baking, or making smoothies and stays good for up to three months. Also consider pre-cutting and preparing ingredients and freezing them together while meal planning to streamline dinnertime.
Meal prep in advance
If you need to use an ingredient right away to avoid spoiling, consider cooking them before you need them and then freeze and label them for future use. It can be a real time saver when preparing weekday meals.
Understand expiration and use by dates
Use by dates indicate the last date the food is at peak quality, not when it’s no longer safe to eat. The sell-by-date is the last date a store can sell the product. This is the date used for milk. You can still use milk up to one week past this date when properly refrigerated. Learn more the dates on your food here.
Use versatile foods
Purchase foods you know you can incorporate in many of your recipes. Versatile foods like milk, cheese, rice, and eggs are essential to many recipes, therefore there is less chances they will go to waste.
Eat more dairy
Cooking with fresh Florida milk is a cost-effective way to include many nutrients in your diet. At a cost of $.20 for one 8 oz serving of nutrient-rich milk, milk offers a unique and powerful combination of essential nutrients – like vitamin A, vitamin D, calcium, and protein – that are essential to a healthy immune system, teeth and bone health, and more.
Sustainable management of food basics. The United States Environmental Protection Agency. https://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/sustainable-management-food-basics
Food waste faqs. United States Department of Agriculture. https://www.usda.gov/foodwaste/faqs