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Knife and food scraps on table Knife and food scraps on table

5 easy ways to reduce food waste at home

5 easy ways to reduce food waste at home

Would you throw $1,600 into the trash? A recent study discovered that was the average value of uneaten leftovers and spoiled groceries an American family of four tosses away every year. Nationally, that adds up to a staggering $165 billion.

“Food waste is not only a waste of calories, but all the water, energy, fertilizers, and greenhouse gases used to grow or create the food are also wasted every time something goes in the garbage,” says John C. Scott, Subway Vice President of Global Sustainability and Responsibility.

Subway does its part to reduce food waste in restaurants by baking bread and preparing fresh ingredients daily, eliminating excess leftovers. “We’ve also implemented new mobile apps to help franchisees manage their inventory better, so we have proper management of expiration dates and to ensure we don’t have too much inventory at any one store,” says Scott.

Cutting down on wasted food is easy to do at home, too.

1. Plan ahead

Man in grocery store with list Plan a menu for the week around what's already in your fridge and pantry, and you won't buy more than you need at the store. (Photo: Dean Drobot/Shutterstock)

Spend your Sunday mornings planning a menu for the week ahead. Start by looking through your fridge and pantry to see what’s already there, making sure to prioritize perishable foods so they won’t go bad before you have a chance to use them.

2. Buy bulk wisely

Couple shopping in warehouse Properly storing or freezing bulk food items can help reduce food waste. (Photo: Chameleons Eye/Shutterstock)

Make those warehouse trips pay off by making good use of your bulk food items. Immediately cut up your fruits and veggies and refrigerate or freeze them so they’ll be ready to go. Cooking and freezing meat such as ground beef or chicken not only prevents spoiling, it also makes dinnertime a breeze.

3. Store food properly

hands washing berries under water Only wash fresh berries when you're ready to eat them. (Photo: VC Vadim/Shutterstock)

Improper storage can shorten the life of your food before you have a chance to put it on the table. For instance, bananas and onions should be kept on the counter rather than in the fridge, and berries become moldy if washed before refrigerating. (Wash them right before eating instead.)

4. Plan "leftover" days

When you plan your weekly menu, designate one or two days to use up the leftovers from previous meals.

5. Use food scraps for compost

Scraping food scraps into compost Add scraps of produce to a compost heap instead of throwing them in the trash. (Photo: Imray/Shutterstock)

Produce scraps can be used to make a compost heap. Start with a plastic or ceramic container with holes for ventilation (preferably on the lid). If you have outdoor space, begin with a thin layer of leaves or straw in a corner of your yard, add scraps (no meat), and cover with a layer of garden soil and more leaves or straw. Mix it with a shovel now and then, and in a few weeks, the mixture should decompose into healthy black compost.

Top Image Credit: Kali Antye/Shutterstock

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