Nutrition Articles

5 Ways to Prevent Food from Going to Waste

Don't Kick Food Waste to the Curb--Prevent It

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Plan to preserve.
Consider preserving your own food if you don't have time to eat it before it goes bad. Pickling, canning, drying (dehydrating) and freezing are all ways to extend the shelf life of many fresh fruits, vegetables and meats. We often only think of cucumbers when it comes to pickling, but in reality, almost any vegetable can be pickled. Canning your own fruits, vegetables, sauces and soups can be a fun family event, and it can make farm-fresh foods available all winter. Raisins are dried grapes, but have you ever considered drying mango, pineapple or apple slices? This can be done in a food dehydrator or on a low setting in your oven. However you do it, drying fruit is a great way to make your own grab-and-go snacks and to prevent fruit from going bad.

The freezer is often underutilized. Bread, scrambled egg mix, leftover coffee, tea, and broths can all be frozen for later use. Your homemade soup, cooked rice and other dinner entrees can also be frozen if you don't have a chance to eat the leftovers in time. Try using an ice cube try to store single serving pieces of purees, sauces and beverages. Freeze leftover coffee for an iced coffee drink, or a cube of frozen veggie broth to whip up some gravy later in the week. Make smoothies down the road by freezing mashed or chopped fruit. Almost anything can be frozen except for canned foods in the can (although they can usually be removed and frozen) and eggs in the shell. The USDA’s Freezing and Food Safety information sheet offers tips on freezing food and thawing it successfully.

Keep your eyes on the size.
Serving up the correct portion size can help stretch you food dollars and eliminate waste created from uneaten portions—not to mention cut calories for weight management! You should be getting two servings from each boneless, skinless chicken breast. If you’re cooking for one or two, cut your meat into the correct portion sizes and freeze the rest that you won’t eat right away. Stick to these proper portions to feed more people per dollar and cut down on what you may be scraping off the plate!

Compost.
Throwing away (or composting) food should be your last resort if you can't eat it or preserve it first. When food lands in a landfill, it's out of sight, out of mind. So what's the big deal? Well, food and lawn waste makes up 25% of all waste in landfills, which are so densely packed that oxygen isn't readily available. When oxygen is lacking during the decomposition process, the food emits methane gas, which is 20 times more toxic than carbon dioxide. All this methane is bad for the environment, and the inhospitable conditions of landfills make it difficult if not impossible for natural materials like food to break down properly. Each ton of organic matter we can divert from a landfill can save 1/3 of a ton of greenhouse gases from being emitted into the environment. Plus, composting can provide you with your very own "black gold" for free, allowing you to condition and enrich your soil, saving money and turning your food into nutritious fertilizer that will nourish future plants.
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About The Author

Sarah Haan Sarah Haan
Sarah is a registered dietitian with a bachelor's degree in dietetics. She helps individuals adopt healthy lifestyles and manage their weight. An avid exerciser and cook, Sarah likes to run, lift weights and eat good food. See all of Sarah's articles.

Member Comments

  • This is a subject that I thought I was on top of, and turns out, I'm not. I can do a lot more! Thanks. - 8/9/2014 7:48:24 AM
  • I liked the suggestions for what can be done with scraps & leftovers. - 7/21/2014 8:59:15 PM
  • Good article...motivat
    ing! And I enjoy reading the comments from others. There are a lot of good thoughts there, too. By the way, some foods ARE good for your dog, but please check with your vet first as was suggested. - 4/10/2014 5:25:42 PM
  • BETTYCOOPER121
    http://inspiyr.co
    m/ - 10/14/2013 1:22:04 PM
  • BETTYCOOPER121
    Simply fantastic article!! Great suggestions too. The suggestion of composting was the best.I also liked the other idea wherein making of broth using raw veggies was suggested. - 10/14/2013 1:20:43 PM
  • I clicked the link for.... Freezing and Food Safety information
    It said the page has moved - 8/28/2013 11:57:38 AM
  • Another great solution to many issues is: Buy a Juicer! All to often neglected are the multiple benefits you can reap by "juicing" fruits and vegetables. In the property I asked for from my divorce was my juicer. At 61 yrs old I am again juicing almost "everything". Green beans, carrots, celery, spinach, and it may be a little wilted...but that's OK! I save tons of money now..juicing fruits...grapes, tomatoes, apples, even catalope, watermelon, etc. My weight has dropped my energy level is "jacked" and my appetite is much better controlled. Read myrecent blog for more . Best of all....NO MORE WASTE! Try it...u will love it! Scott - 8/28/2013 7:32:02 AM
  • I really like the idea of using raw veggie scraps for making broth and even using the left over chicken bones for a chicken broth. Thanks! - 8/17/2013 1:40:45 AM
  • all good points I would like to add that its good to keep a sharp eye on the fridge- I know its easy to forget what's inside before it spoils - especially vegetables. - 11/19/2012 8:34:10 PM
  • If you're lucky your compost pile just may produce beautiful vegetables all by itself. Mine gave me two perfect and delicious spaghetti squash! - 9/24/2012 7:42:58 PM
  • These are actually good ideas! I save money by buying whole chickens and cutting them to portions myself. I freeze the scraps like the backbone and organs for stock, then after I eat the meat off the bones I also freeze those for stock. I save onion peelings, celery ends, and carrot bits for the stock too. I always have a big container of these scraps, and when it's full it's stock-making time! I also make my own raw fermented sauerkraut and pickles and plan to make my own apple cider vinegar from apple cores and skins once I get a bunch of apples. Leftover wine can be made into wine vinegar. - 9/7/2012 1:59:37 PM
  • Great ideas. I do save my veggie scraps and freeze them until I have enough to make broth. I put them in the crock pot for 48 hours and then freeze them in ice cube trays so you can measure them easily (about 1/4 cup each cube). Besides using them in rice and similar items, I will use a couple of cups worth on steak night, reduce it down to about 1/3-1/2 cup so the flavors are condensed, add a little salt and pepper and just a dab of brown sugar which helps flavor and thicken. Then, I add my sauteed mushrooms and the whole thing goes over the filet mignon. Sort of a semi-veggie-demi-
    glace. Heavenly! - 9/7/2012 1:48:23 PM
  • Great ideas, I really like the one about freezing leftover coffee for iced coffee later. - 9/7/2012 12:14:39 PM
  • Great Article. I was just talking about this yesterday. Composting is a very good idea. - 9/7/2012 10:27:13 AM
  • This was a fantastic article, and I'm loving the suggestions in the comments. I had no idea I should freeze spinach for my smoothies. Problem solved!!! And I wanted to add that you CAN most certainly feed your dog scraps depending on what it is. But if you do, first check to make sure it's not toxic (http://www.aspca
    .org/pet-care
    /poison-contr
    ol/people-foods.aspx). Secondly, it should be free of salt or most seasonings. Also, because some foods (pasta for example) are higher in calorie than others (like carrots), you'll want to adjust the amount of regular dog food you're feeding. And I never give scraps while at the table or just because I have some available .... always mixed into the regular dog food. But, naturally, avoid any of this if your dog has a sensitive stomach. But generally speaking, variety in foods - especially at a young age, is just as good for dogs as it is for humans. It also helps avoid allergies. But always talk with your vet if you have doubts. - 9/7/2012 9:28:35 AM

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