Easy ways to reduce food wastage

Food waste is a bigger problem than many people realize.
Discarded food is sent to landfills, where it rots and produces methane gas. Methane gas is the second most common greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide. 
You can help reduce this harmful practice by following the easy tips in this article. Every little bit helps. 

Shop Smart
Most people tend to buy more food than they need. 
Though buying in bulk may be convenient, research has shown that this shopping method leads to more food waste. 
Make a point to use up all the food you purchased during the last trip to the market before buying more groceries. 
Additionally, try making a list of items that you need to buy and stick to that list. This will help you reduce impulse buying and reduce food waste as well.

Store food correctly
Many people are unsure how to store fruits and vegetables, which can lead to premature ripening. 
Potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, cucumbers and onions should never be refrigerated. Foods like banana, tomato etc. produce ethylene gas that promotes ripening in foods and could lead to spoilage. 
Keep these foods away from ethylene-sensitive produce like potatoes, apples, leafy greens, berries and peppers to avoid premature spoilage. 

Learn to preserve
Food preservation techniques have been used for thousands of years. 
While you might think fermenting and pickling are new fads, food preservation techniques like these have been used for thousands of years. 
Pickling, drying, canning, fermenting, freezing and curing are all methods you can use to make food last longer, thus reducing waste. 
Utilizing these methods can shrink your carbon footprint and save you money.

Keep fridge clutter free
You’ve probably heard the saying, “out of sight, out of mind.” 
This rings especially true when it comes to food. Overly-stocked fridges can lead to food waste. 
Help avoid food spoilage by keeping your fridge organized.
Good way to stock your fridge is by using the FIFO method, which stands for “first in, first out” or “first thing, first thing”.

Save leftovers
We all have some food leftovers from time to time. 
Storing leftovers in a clear glass container, rather than in an opaque container, helps ensure you don’t forget the food. 
If you happen to cook a lot and you regularly have leftovers, designate a day to use up any that have accumulated in the fridge.

Raw chicken legs on a dish

Eat the skin
People often remove the skins of fruits, veggies and chicken when preparing meals. 
Chicken skin is packed with nutrients, including vitamin A and B vitamins. 
Apples, potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, mangoes, kiwis and eggplants are also edible and nutritious. 
Not only is eating the skin delicious, but it’s also economical and reduces your food waste impact
However, if you are suggested against eating the skin of chicken by your doctor, then avoid it. 

Eat the yolk
Evidence shows that most people, even those with high cholesterol, can enjoy whole eggs risk-free in limited numbers. 
Egg yolks are packed with nutrients, including protein, vitamin A, iron and selenium. 
You can even use them as an ultra-moisturizing hair mask. Add them to recipes to mask the flavor or texture of eggs you don’t like.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23021013/

Be a seed saver
Aside from using the tasty flesh of your pumpkins in recipes and baking, a great way to cut waste is to save the seeds. 
In fact, pumpkin seeds are tasty and packed with nutrients. They are very high in magnesium, a mineral that is important for heart and blood health and helps control blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

Blend it up
Blending up a nutrient-packed smoothie can be a delicious way to reduce food waste. 
The stems of greens like spinach and coriander are packed with fiber and nutrients, making them a great addition to smoothies. 
Other items that would otherwise be discarded can also be thrown into a nutritious blend, including fruit and vegetable peels, wilted herbs, overripe bananas and chopped broccoli stalks.

Make homemade stock
Whipping up a homemade stock is an easy way to use excess food. 
Sauté vegetable scraps like the tops, stalks, peels and any other leftover bits with some olive oil or butter, then add water and let them simmer into an aromatic vegetable broth. 

Perk up your water
Many people don’t drink enough water simply because they don’t like the flavor, or lack thereof. 
One of the easiest ways to increase your water intake is to make it taste good. Use peels from citrus fruits, apples and cucumbers to add a kick to your glass of water or seltzer. 
Wilted herbs and berry tops also make excellent additions to your water bottle. 

Keep Your Serving Sizes in Check
Overeating is a problem for many people. Making sure your portion sizes stay within a healthy range doesn’t just help keep your weight down, it also reduces food waste. 
While you may not think twice about scraping the leftover food on your plate into the trash, remember that food waste has a major impact on the environment. 
Being more mindful of how hungry you are and practicing portion control are great ways to reduce food waste.

Get friendly with your freezer
Freezing food is one of the easiest ways to preserve it, and the types of food that take well to freezing are endless. 
For example, blanch winter vegetables like peas or carrots and store them in airtight boxes or zip lock bags and use for a later date. 
An excess of herbs can be combined with olive oil and chopped garlic, then frozen in ice cube trays for a handy and delicious addition to sautés and other dishes.

Understand Expiration Dates​
“Sell by” and “expires on” are two of the many confusing terms on food labels. “Best by” is a suggested date that consumers should use their products by. 
Neither of these terms means that the product is unsafe to eat after the given date. 
While many of these labels are ambiguous, “use by” is the best one to follow. This term means that the food may not be at its best quality past the listed date.

​Compost if you can
Composting leftover food is a good way to reuse food scraps for plants. 
An outdoor composter may work well for someone with a large garden. 
A countertop composter is best for city dwellers with houseplants or small herb gardens. 
There’s a wide range of countertop composting systems available.

Pack your lunch
Although going out to lunch with coworkers or grabbing a meal from your favorite restaurant may be enjoyable, it is also costly and can contribute to food waste.
A helpful way to save money while reducing your carbon footprint is to bring your lunch to work with you. 
If you tend to generate leftovers from home-cooked meals, pack them up for a satisfying and healthy lunch for your workday.

Don’t toss the grounds
Coffee grounds make excellent fertilizer for plants. The grounds are high in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, which plants crave. 
Coffee grounds also make a fantastic natural body scrub. 
Mix it with some coconut or olive oil and use it as a body scrub for soft skin.

Pamper yourself
If you want to save money while avoiding potentially harmful chemicals found in some skincare products, try preparing a scrub or mask at home. 
Avocados are packed with healthy fats, antioxidants and vitamin E. Combine overripe avocado with a bit of honey for a luxurious skincare combination. 
You can also apply cool used tea bags or excess cucumber slices to your eyes to reduce puffiness.

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Rithika Rajgopal

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