Your ally to stop wasting food is the wit and the fork. Yes, because most of what is thrown is still edible . That’s why a revolution can start in your kitchen and at your home table.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), globally 1,300 million tons of food are wasted per year (of this 6% corresponds to Latin America and the Caribbean). This translates into 30% of cereals, between 40 and 50% of roots, fruits and vegetables, 20% of meat and 35% of fish that could well feed two million people.
As with the impacts of climate change and poor eating habits, the effects of food waste are not felt immediately. You can look at the amount of leftovers and products in disrepair that you throw away each week, but you do not see mountains of decaying waste in landfills, which generate billions of metric tons of greenhouse gases and waste the freshwater resources of the Earth.
List of tips to end this sad habit
- Prepare a list of meals throughout the week, then review what ingredients you have in your kitchen and which ones are not, and go to the supermarket to buy only those that are needed . In this way, it is avoided to buy on impulse “caprices” that after a while no longer want and end up wasting.
- Look for alternatives to prepare food in a different way than what was planned, but just as rich. For example, with the fruit that is a bit past you can make delicious juices and smoothies , compotes and jams; with vegetables, soups and broths .
- If a lot of prepared food is left over, you can freeze or pickle so it does not get bad.
- Serve the right amount on the plates, without these overflowing. It is always better to repeat to have to throw food than on the plate.
- There are foods such as chicken, which, once cooked, can be reused to make stews or soups. The same goes for sauces or the leftovers of a meat stew: they can be crushed and made into the best accompaniment to a pasta dish. Imagination is power (and saving).
- Another great idea is to get the most out of one of the most beloved dishes: croquettes . Everyone knows ham or cooked, but it is a dish that admits any type of leftovers.
- When cooking rice, it is best to refrigerate it just after cooking it , to prevent the bacteria from multiplying when leaving the leftovers too long at room temperature, and to end up throwing it out for fear that it feels bad to us.
- It is better to make the daily purchase , every two or three days, or the week. Fresh products, such as meat and, of course, fish, should not be in the refrigerator for more than those days. So, if you buy every seven days, you have to end up throwing food. It is pure mathematics.
- Chocolate and yogurt can last a long time . There is no reason to throw them away if the expiration date is past a few days. Remember, this type of food is preferential consumption .
Tips to Incorporate Into Your Daily Life to Stop Food Waste.
Trust your senses and not so much on the expiration date
Many people have become fussy about the expiration of products. But these often follow market reasoning that are oriented to indicate an expiration date before what is actually to prevent people from being intoxicated, especially in microbiologically very perishable foods (that’s why in some it says “preferential consumption before of”). Or they are based more on the loss of the original flavor, rather than on the fact that they can cause some damage, as indicated by Dana Gunders, food scientist at the Council for the Defense of Natural Resources in the United States.
And it is that the expiration is something hard to calculate, so it is best to base yourself in your sense of taste and smell to know if something still works, and not so much in the exact expiration date. Of course, when you do your shopping check the dates, to be able to calculate the duration of your pantry without wasting a single food. In case the food is not in the optimum state, but it does not hurt you either, this is what you can do:
Things like rice or bread can be reused, in case they are not spoiled but you no longer want to eat them like that. You can both use them, for example, to wrap some delicious pancakes with eggs. The same can be done with fruits and vegetables, using them in smoothies and desserts, like jams. You can even use the bread in desserts.
Just as these Mexican innovators found a massive solution to waste through dehydration with dryers that work by solar energy, you can solve the waste of fruits and vegetables in your home by dehydrating them. In this version they serve as a delicious and nutritious snack.
There are three ways to dehydrate food: by solar heat, by the use of commercial electric dehydrators, or by stoves and ovens.
It is also important that before shopping you think very well about the quantities . That is why there is the aforementioned difference between “expiration date” and “preferential consumption before”, because in this way they can function as guides (although not absolute) for when you make your purchases. The best thing is that you organize a menu in a notebook or on your cell phone, in which you include all the portions and help you think about the duration of each food to know on which day of your menu you will use it.
And to preserve food, in addition to dehydrating what is left over, making sauces, breaded or desserts, you can also make your freezer a great ally:
Freeze everything you can
Many things like vegetables and bread can be frozen to stay longer, because many times we throw food is because it is slightly oxidized or, as in the case of bread, hardened, things that freezing prevents from happening. There are myths like the one that leads to think that what was not frozen on the day of purchase can no longer be frozen, but it is not. Just look at the expiration date and there will be no problem.
There are many things that can be frozen, including cheese (except for soft ones, as it acquires a strange consistency), as well as milk and even meat stews that, once placed in the pan, will recover their original flavor and texture. You only have to take care that your food does not spend more than three or four months in freezing, because beyond spoiling can be affected in its taste by the crystals generated by the cooling.
Plan your purchases
A lot of the time we go to the supermarket, we choose random items without thinking about what we will use them. That habit results in a large amount of spoiled food in your fridge, especially fruits and vegetables. To avoid this, make a conscientious list before going to the market taking into account what meals you will prepare throughout the week.
Check the expiration date
There are some foods like butter, some cheeses, milk, chocolate, eggs and yogurt that can be consumed a few days after their expiration date. There is no better technique to discover if a food is in good condition than to smell it, observe it and taste it.
Rotate the food
This tip is directly related to the previous one. When you arrange the food in the refrigerator, be sure to place those that are close to expire more in sight. If you discover a food with little time to live, plan a recipe to use it.
Cooking just and not over
Try not to cook more of the amount you are going to consume or store, because the food may break down without you noticing and you should throw it away. It is important to cook for each meal, so you avoid waste.
Instead of throwing away the leftovers, reuse them. Add other ingredients and prepare a new dish to eat in the day, such as tortillas, broths or cakes. With the remains of meat you can make sauces for your pasta and with the vegetables you can prepare a delicious soup.
Use the freezer
If you left leftovers from the previous day and you know you will not consume them soon, store them in the freezer. Before preparing your next meal, notice what you left frozen and so you will be also taking care of your pocket.
Separate the garbage
If you start to separate your waste between organic and inorganic, not only will you be helping the environment but you can also start to become aware of the amount of food you are wasting.
If you are going to have dinner outside the house, take the leftovers
If you decided to go to dinner at a restaurant and left some food on your plate, ask your waiter to wrap it to take home. This way you avoid that the restaurant throws food and in passing, you will have something delicious to eat the next day.