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How to Minimize Food Waste This Holiday Season

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food_gone_bad.png.662x0_q100_crop-scaleFood waste was identified as one of the most pressing problems of modern society. For some reason, however, regardless of the warnings and pleas of governments and eco-groups, people still throw away perfectly good produce. Here are some tips to avoid falling into this trap over the holiday season.

Feeding the global population is one of the main challenges ahead of us. As it was outlined by the latest IPCC report, and discussed over the numerous UN meetings across the world, the issue of food security should not be taken lightly. Green activists have made everything possible to raise awareness, people have developed businesses by using unwanted produce, but it is far from enough.

Supermarkets still throw away perfectly good produce, restaurants throw away perfectly good meals, and so many of us keep stuffing their fridges with incredible amounts of food that they will never consume in time and will eventually send to landfills. Of course, these bad habits are intensified over the holiday season, when people somehow forget about the importance of it all. But we can still change that and reduce food waste. Here are five simple tips on how to do it at home that guarantee success.

1. Make full use of the freezer.

In many parts of the world, Christmas holidays are associated with closed supermarkets and local businesses, forcing people to plan ahead and stock up. But everyone should do this sensibly, and most of all buy products that they can store for longer periods of time. The freezer is your best friend over the holiday, so use it. It keeps the food fresh, and I do not only mean raw products, it is great for keeping leftovers good to eat for a long long time.

2. Know your fridge content.

Please, oh please, know what you have in the fridge before you go shopping. It hurts me to say it, but I have been a witness of so many families, who simply do not know what they have on that last shelf of their fridge. In fact, it is often that they find out they had a product only when they already bought it again. Besides, trust me when I say it, the fresh ingredients in the fridge can make up a tasty meal, even when you think they are not enough. You have the holiday anyway, you have all the time you need to experiment with new and exciting recipes.

3. Know your products.

Just because a banana has gone slightly black or an apple has gone a bit soft, it does not mean they should be thrown away. Same goes for vegetables, herbs, stale bread, cheese. The fruits make a great ingredient for delicious warm pies, the veggies can be added to a hearty soup, bread can be turned into breadcrumbs, croutons or rusks, and cheese, most of it can be eaten for a long long time, just remove the moldy bits and keep going. Of course, as a last option, you can always freeze them all and cook with them when you please.

4. Never go shopping without a list.

Make a good plan and stick to it. This is the golden rule. When you know what and how much you will be cooking, you are much less likely to buy unnecessary items. Something that I do is to write a list, and to avoid feeling like a total control freak, I add a ‘mystery item’ in the end of it- just in case I see a fancy ingredient that I have never cooked with, or a yummy treat that tempts me on the spot. But I do try to keep this to one item ‘per shopping spree’. Just a tip.

5. Do not fall for supermarket offers, buy only as much as you need.

I know, it is so tempting to fall for that great ‘buy two get third one free’ offer, when in fact you need only one of a certain item. But that feeling of great satisfaction when you get home with three bags of things instead of one, disappears when you find out you do not have enough space to store it all, or when you have to throw away the expired products just because you could not eat it all in time. Just stick to what you need, and if you happen to see an offer, always check the expiry dates and think if you can finish it all in time.

Hope these help a bit. Happy green holidays, everyone!

Image (c) USDA

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