Food Waste in Canada: According to Value Chain Management International, $31 billion of food ─ approximately 40% of the food produced in Canada is wasted annually. About 47% of food waste happens in Canadian households. What can we do to reduce food waste at home?
10 Tips for Reducing Food Waste at Home
- Plan for shopping in advance by making a list of what you need: Check the refrigerator, freezer and cupboards to avoid buying what you already have and only buy items when you have a plan for using them. Always consume perishable items before buying more. Beware of sales: Fliers have the potential to encourage consumers to buy more than they need. This may seem like a deal at the time, but if you can’t consume it before it goes bad, it really isn’t a deal. If you do want to take advantage of a sale, make sure you have a plan to use that item.
- Organize the cupboards and refrigerator: Put the new items in the back and older items in front so that you can use the older products first.
- Learn how to store food properly: Visit the following page for great tips on storing food so that it lasts longer and gets wasted less: http://makedirtnotwaste.org/sites/default/files/foodstorage-quickreference-web.pdf
- Keep record of what you throw away: Throwing out 1 L of milk each week? Why don’t you start buying less? Tossing half a loaf of bread? Why don’t you keep only what you use in a week and freeze the rest?
- Use your freezer: Lots of leftovers after a big party? Freeze them! Don’t let the food stay in your fridge until it goes bad. Freeze leftovers in small portions. They will be great for busy nights when you don’t have time to cook.
- Have one leftovers night each week: This way you can use up all the food that is left in your fridge before cooking a new batch of food.
- Try to use everything: Keep vegetable and meat scraps for broths or soups. If you cannot use them right away, freeze them to use later.
- Get creative: Don’t throw away anything just because it is no longer fresh. Use soft fruits in smoothies, put old vegetables in soups and broths and learn how to can and pickle.
- Best before date is not the same as expiry date: Know the difference between expiry date and best before date. Best before dates have nothing to do with food safety, only food quality. Even expiration dates are not always about food safety. They are usually manufacturers’ suggestions for peak quality. If stored properly, most foods (even meat) stay fresh several days past these dates. If it looks, smells, and tastes okay, it should be fine.
- Don’t forget foodbanks: You bought more than what you needed? Don’t keep them until they expire. Why not donating those extra cans of tuna or chickpea to your local foodbank?
Sara is a Leftovers volunteer and blogger.