Like many people who love food, I am guilty of trying to eat a new dish, with new ingredients with a new composition for every meal. I’m just too excited about food to appreciate leftovers. I want to experience it all, in it’s endless permutations. But really, if I live to be 75, I still have about 18,250 lunches left in my life (just lunches!) to try new things and revisit my favorites.
According to a report from the Natural Resources Defense Council in San Francisco, a whopping 40% of food in the U.S. goes uneaten, totally wasted. From half eaten pasta dishes, to wilted lettuce and all that spoiled milk in between, America is loosing 165 billions dollars worth of food every year. This statistic is a dramatic, 50% increase from the 1970’s.
Even more confounding is the fact that in America, where over 1/2 of the nation’s land is dedicated to food production, 1 in 6 Americans are food insecure.
While a huge portion of food waste occurs at the farming and production level, most people have the ability to do their part to reduce waste at the grocery store and in the kitchen, by purchasing less, planning more and reusing what they can.
Recently, more people are confirming the actual amount of wiggle room when considering expiration dates of packaged foods and how they often refer to food quality, rather than food safety. The old adage “when in doubt, throw it out” is losing a little bit of steam. Might I suggest “when in doubt, throw it inside a taco shell“?
Here are a few tips to remember:
- Don’t be afraid to freeze things you have cooked. They will return to an edible temperature.
- Compost when possible.
- If your schedule has a routine, consider using a meal planner like Fresh 20 to get the most out of your groceries.
Here are a few recipes for the food up-cycler in us all:
- Couldn’t finish all that chicken? No problem: Curry Chicken Salad
- Think that frozen brocoli is done for? Think again: Brocoli Slaw with Tahini
- Corked that bottle of wine before it was empty? I doubt it, but: How to Use Leftover Wine
- Day old loaf of bread too stale for you? Innovate that thing: Leftover Bread Ideas
- Have ingredients from all corners of the earth? Make soup from just about anything: Leftover Soup
And always, reduce, reuse and recycle. It doesn’t have to be a chore.
For more topics by the numbers: