At present, food wastage is a global epidemic as so much of our unused food ends up in landfill sites. We waste approximately one third of all the food that is grown, produced, packaged and marketed. In brief, this is costing our economies an awful amount of money. In addition, when this food breaks down it turns into methane gas and this contributes to global warming as well as to climate change. We need to act now in whatever small ways we can to reduce food wastage levels. Starting small at home with some of these five simple tips could go a long way towards helping our environment for the better. So let’s take a look at some of the ways in which you can eat more consciously and waste less food today.
1. Plan Your Meals
Planning your meals ahead of time can be a great way to reduce your food wastage. Firstly, make a list of the ingredients you have in your kitchen cupboards and then write down the meals you could potentially create with them. You may find that your food stretches further than you think. Try to use older food first before you open any more recently purchased items. This is because you will then minimize the chance that the older food will go off before it gets used up.
In addition, knowing what the labels mean on your food is very important as people are frequently confused by ‘use by’, ‘sell by’ and ‘eat by’ dates. ‘Use by’ and ‘sell by’ are the dates that the manufacturers and supermarkets refer to in order to market products to consumers. The main one shoppers need to be aware of is the ‘eat by’ date because this refers to the date by which the product should be consumed and after which it may not be recommended to eat. However, going by a products smell, look and taste can often provide the necessary reassurance that the item can still be consumed.
2. Think About Portion Sizes
Have you ever noticed that there are sometimes smaller plate sizes or bowls at many buffet restaurants? This is because people can have a tendency to overfill their stomachs if the plate size is larger. Having a smaller plate will actually help you to reduce your potion size. Also, it helps to stop your eyes being greedy with your food and putting more food on your plate than your body needs to consume. Reducing your plate size will not only mean that you will be able to tell when you become full sooner, it will also allow you to lower your food waste and reduces you having any leftovers.
3. Eat Before Food Shopping
It is always advisable to eat a sensible and filling healthy meal before heading out to do any food shopping. Checking your cupboards the day before a big food shop will help you to plan for this and to make sure you have at least one meal left in the house before you need to restock the cupboards. Try to always avoid food shopping when you have not eaten as you will be hungrier and more likely to pick up the wrong sort of foods.
When our energy levels are depleted our blood sugar levels drop and our bodies tell us we need sugar. This means that when you are in the supermarket you would be more likely to reach for the biscuits, chocolate bars, crisps or fizzy drinks thinking that is what your body wants. These items of junk food are not going to solve the hunger issue because they will lead to your body having a blood sugar spike. This means that your body then has to release the hormone insulin to counteract this rise in sugar. All this leads down the path to becoming diabetic and so here is one way we can avoid it. Always eat a meal before food shopping and you will be more likely to pick up fresh salads, meat, fresh fruit and produce that is better for your health in the long term.
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4. Donate To Food Banks
When you clear out your food cupboards or when you are rummaging for a last minute meal at home, you may come across some tinned goods or jars that are gathering dust and have been there for ages unopened and unused. If you read the labels and see that they are soon to go off and out of their ‘eat by’ date, then why not consider donating them to a local food bank or to a soup kitchen. Even though you may not be able to use them, someone else certainly could and this is a way to combat food wastage as well as to give to a worthy cause.
5.Compost Kitchen Waste
If you have a garden then when you have leftover scraps that really cannot be eaten such as skins of fruit or stems of vegetables, then consider having a composting bin in your garden. Over time the nutrients of these food items will break down and can be fantastic for improving the quality of your soil.
When you have vegetable peelings such as those from carrots or potatoes, why not use them to flavor a soup or add them together to create a delicious stock for chicken for example. There are many ways to reuse peelings and you could even double up the advantages by composting them after cooking.
These are just some of the ways in which we can reduce our food wastage output on an individual level. But remember, we can all make a difference to helping the environment if we start with small changes in our own homes first.
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Below is an informative video from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN on how we can all reduce our food wastage footprint.