Every year globally, 1.3 billion metric tons of food that is produced for human consumption ultimately becomes waste. This includes not only fruits and vegetables, but also fish that are harvested from the ocean and livestock that are slaughtered. On a macro level, this level of waste is tragic considering the widespread shortage of food and water in underdeveloped nations—but it also carries immense environmental consequences. Food waste in landfills eventually breaks down and produces methane, a greenhouse gas which contributes to climate change. On a more personal level, wasting food also translates to fiscal waste. One can easily cut back on food-related expenses by planning ahead for the week in terms of meals and by bearing in mind the following five tips:

1) Shop at Home First

First, look at what you’ve got at home in the fridge, freezer, and pantry and make menus for the week based on this. Do you still have a head that carton of eggs you’ve been meaning to use? Then pick up a little milk, some butter, cheese, and green onions and turn them into an omelette. Are there leftover carrots in your vegetable crisper? Hey, Kitchen Stories has a great, simple recipe for pork tenderloin with tarragon carrots. See how easy it is?

2) Make a Detailed Shopping List

Figure out which ingredients you’ll need to supplement the ones you’ve already got at home and make a shopping list that includes specific quantities. If a recipe calls for only 1 shallot, it doesn’t help your efforts to prevent wasting food if you go to the store and buy 5 because you didn’t plan ahead.

3) Cook Ahead of Time

Prepare meals that include perishable items as soon as possible and then store them in the fridge or freezer, if possible. For example, a fillet of fresh salmon will last in the fridge for approximately 2 – 3 days uncooked. However, if you cook it and then store it in the fridge, it will last for approximately 3 – 5 days.

4) Store Produce Properly and Freeze Any Surplus

Fruits like apples, bananas, and tomatoes produce more ethylene—the naturally occurring gas that facilitates ripening—than others. Store such produce separately from other fruits and veggies to ensure their longevity. If you can’t consume your produce before it becomes overripe, simply cut it up, place it in freezer bags, and then freeze it until you can.

5) Don't Just Throw it Away

In the end, if you still have safe and nutritious food that can’t be consumed, Google around for a local foodbank and donate it to them. You can also try your hand at composting, which is a much better alternative to contributing to already overburdened landfills.
No matter what your reason for reducing food waste is, it’s a lot simpler than you might think. Take into consideration the aforementioned tips before your next trip to the supermarket and make the most of your food.

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