Food waste in Canada is a surprisingly large issue. With grocery stores abundant with picture-perfect produce, we become picky when we shop, buying nothing that looks less than advertisement-quality.
The $31 billion of food waste in Canada is attributed throughout the food supply system, though the biggest source of waste is in our households.
“Statistically we waste 31 million pounds of food a year,” says Debra Lawson, executive director at Second Harvest.
“And that is mainly 50 per cent household waste, what you and I would buy, not eat, and throw out. That is an incredible amount of food.”
Any little bit helps, so here are a few tips that can help you reduce food waste in your household.
Plan Your Meals
With a little foresight and planning, you can significantly reduce food waste in your home. Scheduling meal plans based on when you’ll be home to prepare and consume the meal prevents ingredients from going to waste. You won’t have any ‘meals you never made’ or foods you didn’t get around to cooking, because you’ve already planned ahead.
Weekly themes are a great way to stay on track – think ‘Meatless Monday’, ‘Taco Tuesdays’, or the classic ‘Slow Cooker Sunday’. You might also save some cash in the process, since you shouldn’t need to buy ingredients you don’t have a plan for.
Freezing foods can prolong their shelf life long enough for you to find a use for them. Chopped bananas and avocados can be frozen for future smoothies.
Many people toss leftover cooking wine, coconut milk, broth and stock, as they don’t think it can be realistically used again. Not so – these can all be frozen in ice cube trays or silicon muffin baking cups for later use.
Foods with the shortest shelf life should be consumed first, with heartier, more robust foods reserved for later in the week.
So eat your tomatoes and leafy greens by Tuesday, and round out the week with your squash, carrots, and sweet potatoes. This applies to meats too; fresh fish should be enjoyed asap, while sealed package ground meat can wait a little longer.
The ‘Fridge Clean Out’ Meal
At week’s end, you can opt for the comprehensive ‘Fridge Clean Out’ meal. Results and ingredients will always vary, as it’s entirely dependent on what foods you have left over.
Common food hodge-podges include frittatas, stir-fry, or fried rice.
The best way to go about a super left over meal is soften any aromatics first (garlic, onion, ginger, peppers) in oil. Next, you can add any firm vegetables laying around (eggplant, mushrooms, potatoes), cooking them until they’re soft. Complete the dish by adding quick-cooking veggies like tomatoes or spinach (though you should’ve eaten those tomatoes earlier in the week!).