Food waste in America takes up more space in the US landfills than any other type of waste. Indeed, Americans discard approximately 40 million tons of food every year. To put it into perspective, it’s the equivalent of 40% of the entire country’s food supply.
Every American produces 219 pounds of waste on average. Not only does food waste have an environmental impact, but it is also expensive for the household. So, here are some tips to help you avoid food waste and stick to your budget when you cook.
#1. Make sure you have the right equipment
Ultimately, the ingredients are only one part of the problem when it comes to food waste. You could buy the right ingredients, but things would still taste wrong on the plate because you don’t have the appropriate equipment. What do you need to cook delicious meals that don’t waste the ingredients?
- You need a sharp knife to prepare your food. This will ensure you can cut neatly rather than crush or tear. Make sure to invest in a quality knife and a sharpening stone.
- A food processor or a stand mixer is an indispensable tool for the kitchen. You can use it to prepare batters, make soups, and mix healthy smoothies, for example.
- Non-stick pans and pots will make a difference. Nobody likes food that’s stuck to the bottom of the pan.
#2. Learn different recipes with the same ingredients
Some ingredients are a favorite for households because they are high quality for the price, such as apple or chicken. However, if you only know one recipe per ingredient, your family will get bored with the taste. Food waste also occurs when people don’t want to eat the same dish anymore. So it pays off to diversify your cooking know-how.
For instance, if you often make chicken and avocado tortillas, it’s time to learn new things, such as how to make blackened chicken (stovetop, grill, or air fryer). Your family will thank you for this! On the budget side of things, your grocery shopping costs don’t need to change.
#3. Learn how to store your ingredients
Do you sometimes plan a meal in your head only to discover that your main ingredient has started to rot in the fridge drawer? Unfortunately, fresh ingredients can go bad quickly depending on:
- How you store them
- How clean your fridge or cupboard is
- How long they’ve traveled to get to the US
Ideally, if you want to keep your fruits and vegetables fresh for longer, buying local will ensure you get the best products. Imported products are likely to have been harvested too early and have been frozen and/or bashed during transportation. These things don’t help! Additionally, local products are also cheaper as you don’t have to pay for the import.
When it comes to storage, these few tips can help preserve freshness for longer:
- Wash and store leafy green wrapped in a paper towel and refrigerated in a sealed container
- Wrap asparagus stalks with a damp paper towel in the fridge
- Store tomatoes at room temperature away from direct sunlight
Hopefully, these ideas can help you keep your grocery budget low without producing unnecessary food waste.