Exactly how much uneaten food wound up in garbage cans between 2007 and 2014 in the United States? Nearly 150,000 tons a food day, a study found, which translated into one pound of food per person. (In 2020, you can only imagine what those numbers could be!). In terms of calories, that equaled roughly 30 percent what every American consumes on a daily basis.
Of 22 food groups studied, fruits, vegetables, and mixed fruit and vegetable dishes (39 percent of the total) were wasted most. Those were followed by dairy (17 percent), and meat and mixed meat dishes (14 percent), the findings showed.
Tips on How to Store Food and Decrease Waste!
Store produce in the correct spot in your kitchen to reduce food going bad.
INSIDE THE FRIDGE
• Apples, berries, and cherries
• Grapes, kiwi, lemons, and oranges
• Melons, nectarines, apricots, peaches, and plums (after ripening at room temperature)
• Avocados, pears, tomatoes (after ripening at room temperature)
• Almost all vegetables and herbs
OUTSIDE THE FRIDGE
• Bananas, mangos, papayas, and pineapples: store in a cool place
• Potatoes / onions: store in a cool, dark place
• Basil and winter squashes: store at room temperature—once cut, store squashes in fridge
MORE STORAGE TIPS
• If you like your fruit at room temperature, take what you will eat for the day out of the fridge in the morning.
• Many fruits give off natural gases that hasten the spoilage of other nearby produce. Store bananas, apples, and
tomatoes by themselves and store fruits and vegetables in different bins.
• Consider storage bags and containers designed to help extend the life of your produce.
• To prevent mold, wash berries just before eating.
HELPFUL PLANNING TIPS
• Plan your dinners and meals before heading to grocery store. This reduces last minute grabs at the store.
When you get home from the store, take the time to wash, dry, chop, dice, slice, and place your fresh food items in clear storage containers for snacks and easy cooking.
• Befriend your freezer and visit it often. Freeze food such as bread, sliced fruit, or meat that you know you won’t be able to eat in time.
• Cut your time in the kitchen by preparing and freezing meals ahead of time.
• Prepare and cook perishable items, then freeze them for use throughout the month. For example, bake and freeze chicken breasts or fry and freeze taco meat.
Take a pledge to reduce waste in YOUR house this year!
Kelly Devine Rickert MS RDN CSSD LDN
Moraine Valley Registered Dietitian/Wellness Coordinator