By: Amanda Li, Registered Dietician
Take a moment and think about your weekly grocery bill. Now, think about the food you buy that never reaches the kitchen table and is thrown straight into your trash or compost a few days later. What a waste!
On average, Canadians waste $31 billion dollars worth of food every year, with a whopping 47% wasted in the home alone. Food waste is defined as the loss and disposal of food along the food chain that is perfectly fit for human consumption. Again, that is perfectly fit for human consumption. The most troubling fact is that this massive amount of wasted food could help those who do not have enough, seeing as 1 in 8 Canadians struggle with food insecurity. Additionally, wasted food goes beyond the food itself. It extends to the significant amount of money and resources invested throughout the entire production process that are lost when food is wasted.
Since consumers are the largest contributor to food waste, we have a responsibility to make changes. There are a number of little things you can do in your own household that can help make a difference, even if it is small. Here are 5 ways we can cut back on our household food waste:
- Don’t overstock perishables such as vegetables, fruits, dairy products and meats. Rather, become more like an European shopper, purchasing smaller amounts, more frequently if possible.
- Educate yourself on best-before dates. “Best before” dates relate to food quality, including taste, texture and appearance, but do not indicate that eating product past that date will be harmful. Use by dates or expiration dates on the contrary, tells you the last day a product is safe to consume. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency mandates that only baby formula and nutritional supplements need to be labelled with an expiration date. The next time you toss out an unopened tub of yogurt because it is 1 day past its “best before date,” take a look, use your senses and make an informed decision.
- Learn how to properly store perishable food. For example, fresh poultry pieces such as chicken breasts can be stored in the fridge safely for 2-3 days but can be wrapped and stored in the freezer for up to 6 months. Click here for a complete food storage overview from Health Canada.
- Meal plan for the week. Taking time to think about what you are going to eat in the coming week will not only remove a good deal of stress from meal preparation, but will also keep you focused at the grocery store. Don’t forget to take a quick inventory of ingredients you already have on hand before heading out to shop. Perhaps you have some pork chops in the freezer or a jar of half opened tomato sauce that can be used up before replenishing stock.
- Get creative. Have half an onion, bell pepper and leftover roasted chicken in the fridge? Dice them up and make a big pan of fried rice or pot of soup! Did you know there are several websites and apps where it will generate recipes based on the ingredients you have on hand at home? Try one out today!
What are your favourite food-saving tips and tricks? Let us know below!
Until next time, cherish every bite.