It’s the holiday season, which for some of us means large family gatherings and meals. How much of that food gets wasted at your house?
The United States Department of Agriculture estimates that nearly 30 percent of the available food supply in the United States was lost from human consumption at the retail and consumer levels in 2010.
“The food waste in landfills decomposes, emitting carbon dioxide, methane, other gases, water vapor, and leachates, thus exacerbating our ecological footprint,” says the USDA. “Additionally, consider the land, water, fertilizer, labor, energy, and other inputs that went into producing that food, which is now wasted.”
The USDA highlights seven suggestions for reducing food waste from the Environmental Protection Agency.
Shop Your Fridge
Check your refrigerator first so you can cook or eat what you already have on hand before buying more food.
Plan Your Menu
Make a list of menu items needed before you go to the store so you can buy only those things you need.
Buy Only Needed Items
Buy only what you realistically need and plan on using. Buying in bulk only saves money if you are able to use the food before it goes bad.
If it’s safe to do so, use edible parts of food that you normally wouldn’t eat. Stale bread is a good example, it can be used to make croutons, or something like beet tops can be sautéed and eaten as a yummy side dish.
Freeze, preserve, or can extra fruits and vegetables—especially abundant seasonal produce.
When you go out to eat at restaurants, only order what you can finish by asking about portion sizes and knowing what side dishes are included with entrees. You can also take home the leftovers and enjoy them again.
So many choices at al all-you-can-eat buffet, but try to only take what you will actually consume.
See more recommendations, from how to handle leftovers safely to how to safely store food, at USDA.gov.