This blog post is written by Illinois State University graduate student and dietetic intern, Alyssa Laing.
We’re all guilty when it comes to throwing away uneaten food that we’ve let spoil or sit in the fridge past its prime time. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), around 133 billion pounds of food never made it to a fork in 2010. By reducing the amount of food that is wasted in our own household, we could save money and have a positive impact on food security, conserving natural resources, and reducing climate change. In 2015, the USDA and Environmental Protection Agency created a goal that calls for a 50% reduction in food waste by the year 2030. As a consumer, let’s do our part to assist in reaching this goal! Here are a few ways we can actively prevent food waste in our daily lives.
Planning and Shopping
- Before going to the store, shop around in your own pantry and refrigerator to see what you have and make a plan to use the items that are likely going to spoil soon.
- Plan more than one meal around similar ingredients.
- Be cautious of marketing gimmicks that encourage buying more of a product to save money. You end up losing money if you can only eat half of what you bought before it spoils.
Storing and Organizing
- Keep fruits and vegetables in proper storage environments (http://ucce.ucdavis.edu/files/datastore/234-1920.pdf).
- Freeze fresh foods like breads, meats, and produce that may spoil before you have the chance to eat them.
- Keep your refrigerator at 40° F or below and your freezer at 0° F or below.
- Organize your refrigerator and designate a spot for food that is going to spoil soon. Create a sign that says “Eat First” to help you remember.
Everything but the Kitchen Sink Soup (Printable PDF)
2 tablespoons butter, olive oil, or neutral-tasting oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 ½ cloves garlic, sliced
3 to 4 cups of vegetables
About ¾ lb. raw, boneless meat
About 4 cups water or chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Your favorite seasonings
Wash your hands with soap and water. Set a large stockpot over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons butter or oil. After heating the butter or oil, add onion and garlic and your favorite seasonings. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender, about 15 minutes. Place the meat in the pot. Wash your hands with soap and water after handling raw meat. Then add vegetables and other add-ins into the pot. Add enough liquid to cover and season with your favorite seasonings! Increase to high heat and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the flavors come together and the vegetables and greens are tender, about 20 minutes more. If you added raw chicken, remove it from the soup when cooked, allow to cool, shred and return to the soup. Taste and adjust for seasonings. Add more hot liquid if needed to thin the soup to desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot, garnish as desired.
Yield: 6-8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving): 200 calories, 11 grams fat, 150 milligrams sodium, 4 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 18 grams protein