In 2017, research conducted on Canadian household food waste showed that 63% of the food Canadians threw away could have been eaten. For Canada, this amounted to a whopping 2.2 million tonnes of edible food wasted. That’s 140 kilograms, or $1,100, of avoidable food waste for the average Canadian household. When we talk about avoidable food waste, we refer to food that was thrown away because it expired, spoiled or was stored improperly. All of this waste takes a significant toll on our environment, wasting the resources used to produce the food and requiring additional resources to manage its disposal. It also takes a bite out of household savings.
As Canadians grow more accustomed to cooking at home, these are sobering figures that shouldn’t go ignored. The good news is that there are a few simple strategies that go a long way in reducing food waste and helping us save money.
Store Food Properly
Nobody likes stale chips or limp carrots, that’s why it’s important to learn how to store food properly. As a first line of defense, read the labels on packaged foods and store them accordingly. Next, make use of airtight containers and resealable (and preferably reusable) bags, which will keep dry goods from going stale and fresh foods from drying out in the refrigerator. When it comes to leftover canned foods, like canned tuna, transfer them to airtight containers after opening rather than simply placing the can in the fridge.
Purchase Properly Portioned Food
We all love a good deal, but a good deal can quickly turn into food waste when you buy in bulk. Keep this in mind when shopping at bulk warehouses, especially if you’re shopping for a small household. A good strategy to help you reduce food waste in these instances is to look for shelf stable or frozen items that are portioned in manageable sizes, like canned tuna or jars of pasta sauce. Avoid purchasing fresh items, like fruit and veggies, in bulk as you’ll likely end up with a lot of waste.
Plan Your Meals
One of the best ways to reduce food waste is to do some simple meal planning. For starters, when planning next week’s meals, check to see what needs to be used up and plan around it. Another effective way to reduce food waste is to plan to use ingredients that come in larger portions in more than one meal.
Understand Your Fridge
The fridge is a magical place where fresh foods, leftovers, and condiments thrive but to get the best out of your fridge, you need to understand how it works. Use this handy diagram to learn about the cold and warmer zones of your fridge and how to use them strategically to keep food fresh longer.
Learn How to Revive Foods
To reduce food waste, many foods that have passed their prime can be revived or repurposed. For example, stale chips or crackers can be crisped up in the oven and wilted veggies will perk right up after a brief soak in ice water. Other items, like wrinkly peppers or tomatoes, can be used in cooked dishes and no one will be the wiser.