This particular topic, above all, is a personal heart mission. Approximately 1/3 of the food purchased in the US is wasted. At the same time, more than 41 million Americans face hunger, including nearly 13 million children, according to USDA. This is where the “Rethink” of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rethink” really comes into play. It takes some work to change your way of doing things. Just like you, I am busy. I don’t need another thing to do. But big changes require doing things you haven’t done before. And big change is what’s needed to put food into hungry people’s mouths instead of the trash can.
Here’s what I am doing to change my behavior around food waste…
Plan ahead and create a menu | Before I create my menu, I “shop” in my pantry and refrigerator/freezer. I try to pay attention to what the family has planned for the week, who will be home, how many people I am cooking for, and how many leftovers we will need for lunches the next day (we also pack our lunches). Another thing I am beginning to pay more attention to is the timing of when I need to use certain ingredients before they start to look unappetizing and therefore go uneaten.
Know what the dates mean | The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service gives the following advice on their website about dates on food and what they mean https://www.fsis.usda.gov
- A “Best if Used By/Before” date indicates when a product will be of best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.
- A “Sell-By” date tells the store how long to display the product for sale for inventory management. It is not a safety date.
- A “Use-By” date is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. It is not a safety date except for when used on infant formula as described below.
- A “Freeze-By” date indicates when a product should be frozen to maintain peak quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.
Get Inspired | I like to have a little inspiration when I am making big changes. Here are some movies to inspire you…
“Expired” from www.notreallyexpired.com
“Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story” on Amazon Video
Store and Use Food Properly | I found two great online resources for this one.
Savethefood.com—storage, planning and recipes
The Foodkeeper app—search your food type and it will tell you how long a particular food will keep and proper storage options
Recipes for leftovers | There are so many great recipe books and websites available. One of my favorites is “Eat it Up!” by Sherri Brooks Vinton. Bonus: Amazon has used copies (flexing the “Reuse” muscle twice).
A running mantra in our house is “Do it for the kids!” Who’s with me? Let’s do it for all the kids; young, old, born and yet to be born!