Hi! My name is Olivia Vosmeier, a dietetic intern at Purdue University. For my 3-week community nutrition rotation, I had the pleasure of being placed at Gleaners Food Bank.
During my time at Gleaners, I have had the opportunity to expand my knowledge of ways we can all reduce and prevent food waste in our homes, minimizing the effects of food insecurity in our communities. I am excited to share some helpful facts, tips, and recipes that you can incorporate into your lives to not only protect our Earth, but also our wallets!
Did you know that about 90 billion pounds of food goes uneaten and thrown away every year? This amounts to about $370 per person each year, with the majority of the money coming from wasted protein foods, vegetables, and dairy items. With all the food that is being wasted, significant amounts of nutrients are being lost as well. On average, 1,217 calories, 146 grams of carbohydrates, 33 grams of protein, and 57 grams of total fat are wasted per person per day. This is the same as throwing away a meal which consists of spaghetti and meatballs, garlic bread, Caesar salad, cooked broccoli, mozzarella sticks, Pepsi, and Tiramisu!
So, what can you do to help reduce and prevent food waste?
Photo from www.eco-business.com/news/global-standard-to-measure-food-waste-aims-to-put-more-on-plates/
How to Write a Grocery List
To write an effective grocery list, it is important to begin by setting a budget. This saves you from spending money on items that you may not necessarily need. It’s also a great idea to plan out your meals for the week by looking at the food items you already have along with looking at the weekly grocery ads for any coupons, sales, or promotions going on that week. Lastly, organizing your list by different areas of the store is beneficial for reducing your time spent in the store.
Understanding Dates Applied to Packages
There are many common phrases that we see on packages that suggest how long the food item is good for. Phrases such as “best if used by”, “sell-by”, “use-by”, etc. are placed on food packaging for an estimate of when the product is at its peak quality or flavor. However, there is a lot of confusion around these phrases, resulting in many wholesome foods being thrown away. In fact, these food dates are not used for the safety of the products, but rather the overall quality of the item. When a package says, “best if used by” or “use-by”, it is still perfectly safe to use or consume after this date. “Sell-by” labels are primarily used by the stores to know how long the product should be displayed or on sale.
Repurposing Leftovers by Trying New Recipes
Many times, leftovers are thrown away because they become boring, or the appearance and texture may change, making them less desirable to eat. One option for using these items instead of throwing them away is to try out a recipe that specifically uses leftover ingredients. These recipes are a great place to start:
Need more ideas? Click here to search for recipes that use specific ingredients you already have on hand!
Turning Scraps of Fruits and Veggies into Compost
A great way to turn food scraps into usable material is by composting! This saves from adding to our already very full landfills, reducing methane gas emissions into our atmosphere. Composting consists of a chemical process which turns plant material into usable, organic soil or mulch. Composting enriches the soil, helps it to retain moisture, reduces the need for chemical fertilizers, and overall reduces our carbon footprint!
Through this experience, I learned that there are so many easy ways that I can practice reducing my food waste. Here is a short video along with a handout that you can watch for more information on reducing and preventing food waste. For more nutrition and cooking tips, click through the NutritionHub website, Facebook page, and Instagram page!
Sarah Wilson, RDN, Nutrition Manager at Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, along with guest blog posts by dietetic interns