According to the USDA, in the United States, about 90 billion pounds of food go uneaten each year, costing consumers about $370 per person annually. According to the EPA, food waste is the single largest component of municipal landfills, where rotting food generates atmosphere-damaging methane.
To combat this problem, the USDA and EPA have created the U.S. Food Waste Challenge, an initiative to cut the country’s food waste in half by 2030. Thanks to these efforts, as well as those of the food industry organization Food Waste Reduction Alliance, U.S. food manufacturers recycle 93 percent of their food waste, through donating food, and recycling leftovers into animal feed, fertilizer and compost.
While efforts by manufacturers and retailers have a positive impact on food waste, it’s not the only factor. Consumers can help as well. Here are a few suggestions on how to reduce food waste at home.
Putting together a weekly menu not only saves time and energy, it ensures you buy only what you need for the week. Planning ahead will help prevent you from buying items that end up going to waste, which will also save you money.
Use as much of your ingredients as you can
and don’t be afraid to get creative. Beet greens and broccoli stems are great in salads, and leftover chicken bones can be cooked down into bone broth.
Check out the FoodKeeper app
The USDA, Cornell University and the Food Marketing Institute have created a handy, free mobile app to reduce food waste at home. FoodKeeper helps users determine the best storage methods for foods and set reminders when items are approaching the end of their recommended storage time. There’s even a feature to answer food safety questions, in case you’re worried whether your lasagna from last week is still safe to eat.
Support businesses taking part
in the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge, following a plan to prevent and divert wasted food in their operations. Find a searchable database of more than 800 organizations supporting the program.
Candied Citrus Peels
This recipe from author Anne-Marie Bonneau’s blog the Zero-Waste Chef saves orange, grapefruit, lemon and lime peels from the trash by turning them into a delicious candied treat. Note: Make sure to use organic citrus, as non-organic varieties retain pesticide residue in their peels.
5 to 6 mandarin oranges (or citrus fruit of your choice)
1⁄2 cup water
1⁄4 cup sugar
1. Without piercing fruit, cut through mandarin peel and remove strips about 1⁄4- to 1⁄2-inch wide. Don’t worry about making them uniform.
2. Use knife to slice away most of the pith.
3. Add peels to a pot, cover with water, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for about 25 minutes. Drain.
4. Combine sugar and water in pot and boil until sugar dissolves. Add peels. When they begin to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
5. Remove citrus peels with a slotted spoon to a drying rack. Allow to dry overnight.