Our Tips for Reducing Food Waste at Home

“Don’t waste food”- a familiar phrase you may remember from childhood. But, you’ll be surprised by how much food is actually wasted just in our own homes!
 Food waste refers to food items that are perfectly suitable for consumption, but instead are thrown away, either by retailers or consumers [1]. 
In 2017, the National Zero Waste Council conducted research on food waste in Canada. They found that:

  • An estimated 47% of food waste comes from Canadian households

    • 63% of Canadians throw away avoidable food waste, which could have been consumed. 
    • In other words, for the average Canadian household this amounts to 140 kilograms of wasted food annually at a cost of over $1,100
    • For Canada all together, that is 2.2 million tonnes of edible food wasted per year, totalling a cost of over $17 billion [2]!

    You may not realize this, but in one way or another you may have contributed to these alarming numbers. For example, do you sometimes find yourself forgetting about leftovers that have rotted in the fridge? Or throwing away food that’s simply a day past it’s best before date? Well, these are all ways in which we unintentionally generate avoidable food waste within our households. 
    Here are a few tips that will help you tackle situations like these and help reduce food waste within your own homes!


    Keep track of what you throw away

    This is a simple, yet important tip to keep in mind for reducing food waste. Try recording your weekly food wastage. By doing this you may start to note patterns of items you throw away each week and can change your buying habits accordingly!
    It may also help to understand best before dates before throwing away food. These dates are often flexible, as they indicate the shelf life of foods, rather than guarantee food safety or expiration of foods. Many foods may be safely consumed even after their best before date [3].


    Plan ahead

    This tip will help you practice buying only what you need and avoiding the disappointment of having to throw away unused items that have gone bad. 
    Try getting into a habit of creating weekly meal plans before heading out for groceries. This way you’ll know exactly what ingredients and food items are required for the week’s meals. Always remember to include quantities of foods on your grocery list and note how many meals you’ll make with each item. This will help you shop more realistically and avoid overbuying.
    Want to read more about meal plans and free resources to make them? Check out our blog on Healthy Eating Tips!


    Eat what you buy

    This may sound overly simple, but ensure you are using up items in your fridge before going grocery shopping! Follow the “First In, First Out” rule and properly label your items with dates to ensure older items are used up first. 
    Try to only cook what you’ll eat, but if you happen to make extra leftovers that won’t be eaten in time, freeze those dishes for later. This tip will help avoid spoilage of leftovers.


    Get creative with leftovers

    Don’t feel like eating the same dish twice in a row? Try repurposing leftovers to craft new dishes. There are plenty of creative ways to repurpose leftovers, while also feeding your appetite. Mastering this tip will help save you time, money and reduce food waste by preventing leftovers from going bad in the fridge! 

    In need of some inspiration? Love Food Hate Waste Canada features some great recipes for leftover foods!

    Interested in finding more ideas for repurposing leftovers? Read more about this on Cooking at Home blog!


    Learn to use food scraps

    Many of us don’t realize that certain parts of food that are usually discarded, such as carrot tops, are actually edible and make for some delicious meals including pestos, soups and stir-frys!  

    Using food scraps, such as onion skins and radish tops to create new dishes will help you get creative with your cooking, while also reducing food waste! 

    For example, here’s a simple recipe from one of our co-founders, Kamil: 

    “One of my discoveries of the year has been daikon greens! It’s my first time trying to grow them in the garden and I accidentally grew them WAY too close together. Rather than just throwing away the plants I thinned, I did a quick search and learned that daikon greens are very popular in Japan. It’s as simple as steaming the greens until tender, then tossing with salt, pepper and a bit of soy sauce. And that’s it, a super simple, super green side dish!” 

    Food waste has a significant impact on the environment. But, the good news is that we can all take simple steps to cut down on food waste from within our homes! Enacting these simple tips to reduce food waste within your own homes is an easy way to have a large impact on the world. Learning to reduce food waste will save you time, money and disappointment!

    Rahbika Ashraf

    Rahbika Ashraf is a Business Development and Growth Marketing Assistant at Neophyto Foods, with a background in Human Health and Nutritional Sciences from University of Guelph. She is passionate about health and wellness research, and bridging knowledge gaps with science! When she is not typing away, you can find her meditating, hiking, playing sports and watching TV shows.

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