As I was packing up for the holidays, I did my requisite fridge clean-out. Even after making a concerted effort this week to eat as much of the perishable food we had on hand, I still threw out several items. Half a carton of strawberries, half a quart of milk, some leftover pasta that was lost in the back of the fridge, and more are all en route to a landfill. I am not proud of this, and I feel deep guilt about it as I type.
According to the NRDC, over 40% of the food produced in the US is never eaten. Almost half! What’s worse – many people don’t get enough to eat. Feeding America reports that nearly 41 million Americans (including 13 million children and 5.4 million seniors) struggle with hunger.
In addition to people not getting enough to eat, throwing food in the trash is bad for the planet as well. Though most food will decompose quickly, the resources and carbon it took to grow, harvest, package, and distribute decompose along with it.
So, my resolution for 2018 is to waste less food. Any good resolution needs an action plan, so here’s mine:
- More meal prepping. I purchase groceries with the best of intentions: colorful meals with a lot of fresh veggies, recipes that are new and interesting, and a resolve to finally learn how to cook an artichoke. However, busy weeknights mean that some version of buttered noodles is on the table most nights. Taking the extra time on Sunday to wash and pre-chop a lot of those veggies means it is more likely that they will get used. Less food wasted, more veggies consumed — it’s a win-win!
- More weird breakfasts. My husband gets credit for this idea. Rather than throwing out some leftover rice and beans before our trip, he ate them for breakfast — and managed to use up the jar of salsa and the rest of the shredded cheese at the same time. This solution is perfect for when there isn’t quite enough left for dinner. And hey – if it helps me justify leftover pizza for breakfast, I’m all about it.
- Befriending the freezer. If I know I won’t be able to eat food before it goes bad, I’ll do my best to freeze it. I’ve stocked up on reusable freezer-safe containers for everything from soup to pesto to blanched carrots.
- Reading up. I am not the first to resolve to waste less food. The Waste-Free Kitchen Handbook is at the top of my reading list for 2018.
Not convinced? Check out this video. (Warning: You will become inexplicably emotionally attached to a strawberry.)