At AIM, our practitioners are very passionate about preventing food waste and taking care of the environment. By supporting amazing organization like La Soupe and frequently talking with patients in our Get Well Program, we are very aware of the fact that “Up to 40% of the food in the United States is never eaten. But at the same time, one in eight Americans struggles to put enough food on the table.”
Here are some simple ideas that every family can easily implement to help reduce their food waste.
- Keep your refrigerator organized. When you can see what you have on hand, you’re more likely to use it! Move older foods to the front and put newer foods in the back so you make sure to see and use items that could be nearing expiration.
- Check and see what you already have on hand that may need to be used. A quick scan of your refrigerator may reveal some spring mix that could be the base of your salad for tomorrow’s dinner. Or, you may find some meat that has been in the freezer that should be used. Many times people buy foods they already have or end up tossing out foods that go bad because they were forgotten about.
- Meal Planning: By knowing ahead of time what you are going to eat, you reduce your risk of buying too much produce, dairy or meat, which can all spoil easily. Creating a healthy, weekly meal plan just two or three times will help you have a tasty rotation of foods in your diet that will reduce boredom with your meals. You can incorporate any ingredients you already have on hand to reduce your grocery list!
- Make a Shopping List and stick to it: One of the easiest ways to help yourself adhere to your shopping list is by eating BEFORE you go to the grocery store. People often veer from their lists when they start thinking about what they want to eat in the moment. By eating beforehand, the temptation to buy items off of your list will be reduced.
- Go to the grocery store more frequently. It may seem counter intuitive, but buying in bulk leads to more food waste than buying smaller portions. Need to use up that salad mix? Have some extra peppers on hand? Great, grab some protein on the way home and you have dinner.
- Utilize Your Freezer: Many people don’t like to eat the same thing over and over and over again. If you make a meal, instead of putting the leftovers in the fridge, which you may not be in the mood for during the next day or two, freeze it instead! That way, when you have a busy day in the future, you already have a meal ready to go. For those of us who don’t like to eat leftovers, it is VERY important that you understand your typical portion size in order to reduce your waste.
- Monitor your waste: Create a Food-Waste List and put it by your trashcan. Every time you have to throw away some food, write it down. Within a month or two, you will better understand what you may be over buying and the portions that you and your family really need to be prepared during each meal.