Food waste is a continual issue in the United States. A new study reported that nearly 150,000 tons of food is wasted, or about one pound per American daily. Recently, “healthy eaters” have been pinned as the worst offenders, with produce as one of the most wasted foods. But who wants to be told they’re contributing to waste when they’re just trying to eat fruits and vegetables?
While you may be trying to do your body some good by increasing your produce intake, you might need some inspiration to get creative with how you buy and utilize your groceries. Let’s dive into some practical tips that may help you be more mindful of your food choices and reduce the amount of food you waste.
1. Get Creative at Home
Too often we assume that because it’s grocery shopping day, we automatically need to stock up on X, Y or Z at the supermarket. Challenge yourself one day each week to make meals with the foods you still have — whether that’s some meat in the freezer, canned goods in the pantry or the long-lost veggies in the crisper drawer. You may also want to consider giving your fridge a makeover by putting produce in more visible areas.
2. Finish Now or Finish Later
Mindful eating is about awareness while eating. A common practice is to notice all the different sensory aspects of food (taste, texture, aroma, etc.) while limiting distractions during mealtimes. Pairing mindful eating with intuitive eating (which aims to remove food rules and bring back the joy of eating) can help you focus on your hunger cues and be present for your meal. It’s just fine if you end up finishing it all at once — but if you want to save some for later, that works too. Eating leftovers is another way to prevent unnecessary food waste.
3. Eat a Variety of Foods — But Eat What You Like Too
It’s possible that people buy foods they think they should eat instead of foods they want to eat, which can lead to unnecessary food waste. For me, I usually don’t want to take a lot of time to plan out my meals, so I came up with a method to grocery shop (weekly!) that ensures I get a variety of nutrients and taste. I call it the 3-2-1 method: I choose 3 fats (avocados, nuts, oils), 3 proteins (salmon, chicken, eggs), 3 grains/starches (sweet potatoes, pasta, rice), 3 fruits and 3 vegetables, 2 dairy products, 2 special foods (like chocolate or a food you’ve never tried before) and 1 seasoning. With this method, I find I’m more likely to utilize all my groceries, and it’s more fun to make meals for the week. Give it a try!
It’s no surprise that the world would benefit from decreasing the amount of food wasted each day. While it may seem like you can’t make an impact all by yourself, current statistics show that just one person could save close to 365 pounds of food per year. And who knows — you may even inspire your friends to join you!