3 tips for preventing food waste
What do you do with expired milk, an overripe banana or a limp carrot? If you’re like most people, you’re probably used to throwing away food that’s gone bad. According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), a third of the food products we consume is lost or wasted, which amounts to 1.3 billion tonnes of food per year. About half of that food waste is generated by consumers. That’s about $27 worth of food that we each throw into the garbage every week. But with a few simple actions, you can make a big difference.
Here are three tips for grandparents who want to cut down on food waste.
Go grocery shopping daily or a few times a week, accompanied by your grandchildren. By using the products you buy the same day, you’ll cut down on large purchases that end up sitting in your fridge until they go bad. Plus, you’ll always have fresh products on hand and you’ll encourage the same behaviour in your grandkids.
A great way to limit excess purchases is to keep an inventory of the items in your fridge, freezer and pantry and update it daily. You can then use this as your grocery list. Another good method is to choose two or three different types of fruits and vegetables per week. As a bonus, you’ll save money on your grocery bill!
Don’t overstock your refrigerator. You should be able to see all the items inside. You may find it helpful to place larger items at the back and smaller ones in the front. This makes it easier to use all the food you have, without forgetting anything.
Use the various compartments of your fridge for their intended purpose. Generally speaking, the space near the rear interior wall is coldest. The temperature also decreases the lower you go. The warmest section is typically located adjacent to the door. More perishable items like dairy products, food leftovers and fresh cheese should not be stored here.
What about “best before” dates? Some types of food products may be consumed after their “best before” date if they haven’t been opened, including eggs, yogurt, kefir, salad dressings and marinades. IMPORTANT! Once you open a product, its “best before” date no longer applies. Make sure to remind your grandchildren. We recommend writing down the date you opened the product and following the shelf life instructions in the Thermoguide (in French only).
Is it mouldy or just a little wilted? Moulds come in various forms and some of them produce toxins that can be harmful to our health. By contrast, limp and withered vegetables or overripe fruits can still be consumed: for example, in a stir-fry, a sauce or even a breakfast smoothie (fruits, carrots, cauliflower, spinach, cucumber, etc.) that your grandkids will surely enjoy.
You can also use leftover food to make a homemade broth. Vegetable scraps and bones left over from meat, poultry or fish can pack a lot of flavour. After each meal, put your leftovers in a container and freeze them. Once you have a sufficient quantity, place the items in a pot of boiling water for 30 minutes. Drain and then freeze the broth until you’re ready to use it in a soup, sauce, or stir-fry and compost the rest. This way, you’ll be reusing the same product multiple times!
What can you do with strawberry tops, orange peels or cucumber peels, besides composting? Use them to flavour your water! Place your fruit scraps in water and let the mixture infuse in the refrigerator. It’s a great way to add a bit of freshness to your summer—and your grandkids will love it!