How to Prevent Food Waste in Your Daily Life

by Cath
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It was a regular workday, we set up a table and went to fetch our food containers from the fridge.

I put my food container in the microwave to heat up.

After taking it out, while bringing it to the table where we were going to lunch, the food container burned me and I let it fall.

My precious lunch in the ground.

I was devastated, I went home, told everyone that I’d go to lunch so I could cry my eyes out. Here’s what I thought at the time: “Here I am wasting food when there are so many people dying of hunger. I’m so stupid”.

You can tell how I hate wasting food.

I was so angry with myself but if it happened to someone else I would have said: “are you okay? Are you burned? It happens, don’t worry”. But instead, I was mean to myself for doing what I did. It’s so much easier to be mean to ourselves, I always wonder why.

But wasting food happens and I’m telling you this story because we should be kind to ourselves and not punish us when we waste food. If you’re trying to reduce your food waste, good for you! Every small step is important and don’t let yourself feel overwhelmed by all the things you’ve yet to do.

Life happens and sometimes we end up not eating those mushrooms that we bought specially to make that risotto. They were in the fridge so long that you cannot eat them, and the only solution is to throw them out or compost them.

You cannot control everything but I have a couple of tips for you to prevent food waste in your daily life.

Buy less

If every week you’re throwing out food, you’re buying too much food.

Do this experiment: for a month, buy less food than you usually do.

You’ll see that you don’t need that much food.

If you do this, you’ll understand that you can buy less and have enough food and realize what you need on a daily basis.

Another advantage of buying less is taking a look at your pantry.

How many times do you forget what you’ve in your pantry? More than you want to admit right?

By buying less, you’ll make yourself use what you’ve in your pantry before going grocery shopping. That way, those packages that were going to expire soon are going to be eaten.

Preventing food waste in two places by making ONE change!

Meal Plan

I love to cook but you know what I absolutely hate?

Deciding what to cook for dinner on a weekday.

Sometimes it was such a tiring day that I don’t want to make another decision and decide what I want to cook, I want something quick to make and let’s go.

Do you feel the same way?

Lately, I’ve been meal prepping, I think that meal prep for busy people is possible, you don’t need to spend an entire day making meals. Meal prepping has made my evenings so much better.

I’m not stressed out by what we’re going to eat and I’m not going to buy something else instead of using what I’ve in my fridge/pantry.

It’s so easy to buy those ingredients to make that quick meal that you love so much instead of figuring out what to do with what you have already.

I used to waste more food before because I’d go grocery shopping on the weekends with huge plans for making delicious food and then during the week, I wouldn’t have any motivation to cook. It didn’t happen every single day but meal prepping helped me reduce my food waste.

Store your food better

Did you know you can store lettuce in water to make it last longer? And if you store mushrooms in a paper bag they won’t get soggy so soon?

There are so many tricks to make your fruits and vegetables last longer.

And that’s possible even without plastic. That’s why I created a guide on how to store fruit and vegetables without plastic.

Making your food last longer in your home, will drastically reduce your food waste.

With this, even if you’ve last-minute plans, you can be at ease that your food won’t go bad because you didn’t cook it today.

Freeze

Freeze Prepared Meals

Once you realize that you won’t be able to eat that prepared meal, freeze it right away. If you put that prepared meal in the freezer, you can eat it next week, it won’t get ruined.

This is especially helpful when you prep a few meals during the weekend but unexpected dinners come up. Put those meals in the freezer and you’re good to go.

Freezing prepared meals can preserve the freshness of your meal and I’m sure that you love knowing that you’ve something ready for dinner in those more difficult days.

To defrost, I use the defrost setting in my microwave and once defrost it I’ll turn up to the highest setting and heat my meal. This makes a huge difference in texture and taste, even after frozen.

Freeze fresh fruit and vegetables

You can also freeze vegetables and fruit if you know you cannot use them before going bad.

Just wash them and cut them to be ready to use and store in your freezer in a reusable bag or jar.

Some examples:

  • Freeze spinach to use it later for soups or creamed spinach.
  • Freeze bananas that are too ripe – they’re great for smoothies, banana bread or with yogurt for breakfast.

To defrost these vegetables, I put them the day before in the fridge so they can slowly defrost.

I don’t always have time so sometimes I just throw them in a pan straight from the freezer! Living dangerously!

Donate

If you know you won’t be able to eat your food, why not donate it before letting it get ruined? If you’re traveling or for some reason, you’ll have to eat out, the reason is not important! Donate food, someone will thank you.

Se sabes que não vais conseguir usar a comida doa-a antes de ela ficar estragada. Se vais viajar ou se por algum imprevisto vais comer mais refeições fora de casa, na verdade não interessa a razão! Doa a comida, alguém ficará agradecido. Se queres saber onde doar a tua comida podes ler esta publicação onde falo disso

Donate to those you need it

Organized a big birthday party and now you’re left with lots of leftovers, even while giving away so much to everyone who was there?

Give to institutions that take your food, I bet you can find one nearby.

Personally, I know that Refood, that operates in multiple cities around the world, accepts cooked food. That food is then donated to the families that they help.

Instead of letting food go to waste, you’re helping.

Donate to friends and family

During Spring, when the chickens are laying more eggs, my parents donate their eggs to our closest family. It’s very common, for people who have gardens, to donate their excess veggies and fruit to family, neighbors, and friends. Everyone is happy and less food is wasted.

If you don’t have a yard, but still have too much food, don’t be afraid to ask if someone else needs it. It might seem odd to donate, for example, flour, but won’t you feel better giving it to someone you know will use it?

In the city, these types of trades and donations are not as common but it’s all a matter of mindset.

If you start to do it with people you’re close with, they’ll do it with other people as well and slowly this sharing movement grows.

Donate using the app OLIO

OLIO is one of the best apps that helps you reduce food waste. It’s very simple to use. If you have food to donate, just take a photo and add a small description of its contents and where you can deliver it.

I already donated orange marmalade that I made too much of through this app and the recipient was so happy that asked me whether or not I wanted some cookies! Daniel loves cookies so I didn’t decline her offer. We were both happy, me because I gave marmalade that I wouldn’t eat, her because she had given cookies that were sitting around in her pantry.

And again, the concept of sharing, so important to reduce our eco-footprint.

After reading all of these tips, you can see how much they have in common with one another.

Preventing food waste is about thinking a little bit ahead and decide whether or not you’re going to eat something and do something about it.

I still believe that buying less is the most effective tip. We always tend to overestimate what we need.

In this society, we’re always reminded of what we don’t have and that just makes consume more than we need. When people talk about consumption, fast fashion and electronics come to my mind, and while both are relevant to this topic, we should also take a look at the food that we buy.

Everything that’s in your pantry it’s strictly necessary?

Have you taken an inventory of what you’ve? How much do you throw out every year just on food that has expired? That you forgot that it was there?

I’m guilty of this myself and I don’t even have a big pantry (actually my pantry is 1 cabinet in my kitchen). It’s a work in progress, we just need to realize that we can prevent a bit of this food waste and strive to make a few changes.

Are you ready to prevent food waste in your home?

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