Reduce Food Waste While Maintaining a Healthy Diet: 5 Practical Ways to Help the Environment by Susan Bowerman, M.S., R.D., CSSD, CSOWM, FAND
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, an estimated one-third of all food produced globally is lost or goes to waste, which contributes to global food insecurity. Additionally, how certain foods are produced, processed and transported can negatively impact our environment.
Making changes in the way you shop, cook and prepare your meals to better the health of the planet doesn’t have to be drastic. When planning your family meals, there are practical ways in which you can help reduce food waste and live more sustainably. Here are five of them:
- Plan ahead. Whether you’re prepping meals for the week or planning the menu for your next family gathering, planning ahead ensures that you’re buying only the ingredients you need, preparing only what can be consumed and not serving more than friends or family can eat.
- Increase your use of more plant-based foods. More people are choosing plant-based diets for health reasons or environmental concerns. Those who are just starting to experiment may benefit from a “flexitarian” diet, a primarily plant-based diet with the occasional inclusion of meat, poultry, fish or eggs. It’s a great way to maintain a healthy, balanced diet while helping the environment by cutting down on energy and resources used to produce red meat.
- Plate up in the kitchen. Portion out your meals in the kitchen. Serving food family-style makes it easy for everyone to help themselves, which makes it difficult to control portions. One of the biggest sources of food waste comes from food left on the plate, which often ends up in the trash.
- Repurpose foods that are reaching expiration. Get the most out of your perishable food items! When your tomatoes get too mushy for salads, make them into homemade tomato sauce. Peel brown, overripe bananas and keep them in the freezer as a healthy smoothie ingredient. Soups and stews can incorporate many different ingredients, like vegetables that might be a little past their prime.
- Donate extras to those in need. Clear out your pantry and donate extra shelf-stable food items to local food banks and charities. And the next time you are cleaning out your refrigerator, freezer or pantry, be aware of what you’ve tossed and try to reduce food waste in the future.
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