by Sara Mack, Marketing Manager
You may be familiar with the expression, “my eyes were bigger than my stomach” when it comes to taking more food than you’re able to eat during a meal. Although adding too much food to your plate during dinner is relatively harmless, the grocery store equivalent to this type of over consumption is more damaging. The phenomenon of purchasing too much at the grocery store without the ability to make use of all of the goods before they spoil is actually one of the biggest and most common contributors to food waste.
Even though overconsumption is a huge issue contributing to the 80 billion pounds of food that are added to the landfill each year in the United States, all hope is not lost. By being thoughtful about your produce habits you can save your uneaten groceries from a fate in the landfill or compost bucket and actually get the full value of the fruits and veggies you purchased with your hard-earned money.
1. Develop a meal plan
The first key to ensuring that no goods with a short fridge or shelf life go to waste is making sure to only purchase items that fit into the recipes you plan to make throughout the week. Even though there will always be a splurge purchase like that odd bunch of grapes you were craving during your shopping trip, it is much more likely that you will be able to use all of your perishable items if you don’t purchase everything that looks good in the store — especially if you’re shopping on an empty stomach!
2. Incorporate leftovers into your routine
Scheduling in leftovers is one of the best things you can do to make sure they are eaten, and to avoid tupperwares full of mystery substances from turning up in your fridge months later.
3. Create a game plan for the grocery store
Know where to start and follow the same route each time. You’ll be less likely to forget important items and to get unnecessary things because you will be on a mission to follow the meal plan you created before heading to the store.
4. Store your produce correctly as soon as you get home
When it comes to the longevity of produce, proper storage is key. Although it can be overwhelming when trying to keep track of the best practices for preserving each item, repeating the same techniques each week will make it second nature in no time. Here are some of our favorite produce-saving hacks:
- Keep leafy greens and herbs in glass jars with water, changing the water every few days, with a plastic bag over the top
- Store spinach washed and dried in a tupperware or closed container with a small towel to absorb any moisture
- Wash and dry your berries!
- Keep potatoes in a cool dark place
- Store carrots and celery submerged in water to keep them crisp
- Keep bread in the fridge to avoid mold
5. Freeze items you aren’t going to eat right away
If you have vegetables that have been sitting in tupperware for a few days and you don’t have any current recipe plans, consider dicing and storing them in the freezer for a future meal. Additionally, if you have fruit that is on its last legs, consider freezing it for baking, blending into a smoothie, or making a natural popsicle when you have the time.
6. Give your produce a second life
Did you know that fruits and vegetables from the grocery store such as green onions, lettuce, and even pineapples can be re-planted in order to grow more produce that you can enjoy time and time again? If you’re less interested in gardening, but you still want to give your scraps a second life before sending them off to the compost pile, consider making vegetable peels into a veggie stock or making fruit pulp from juicing into delicious muffins (recipes coming soon on our blog!)
Even with all of these precautions, some food scraps will still likely not have a purpose, and that’s okay! That’s where composting comes in. Even taking small steps toward reducing food waste is a huge step in the right direction. Let us know if these tips help in the comments, and feel free to share any other food saving hacks you take to avoid overconsumption and waste!