5 tips to reduce food waste

Did you know that a third of the food produced in the world goes into the garbage? Annually, this represents 1.3 billion tonnes! It’s like going to the grocery store, coming back with 3 bags of food and throwing one in the trash! It’s hard to accept that in Canada, 30.4% of the food that could have been used is in fact lost or wasted, while more than 805 million people, or 1 in 9 people in the world, suffer from hunger [1].

Unfortunately, the society we live in sometimes pushes us to buy more food than we really need. So it often happens that the products in our refrigerator perish without anyone having tasted them. How to prevent this situation, food waste, this scourge of the 21st century?

# 1 Plan meals and snacks

Before shopping for groceries:

  • Inspect the pantry and the fridge.
  • Identify what you have left and avoid buying it back.
  • Plan meals and snacks for the week.
  • Write a grocery list with all the ingredients you need for your planned meals.

By following this method, you will only buy the quantities necessary to meet the needs of the week. In addition, it will save you a lot of time: once the planning is done, no need to worry about the evening when you come home from work to determine what will be the dinner!

# 2 Prepare fruits and vegetables upon purchase

Cut and ready-to-eat raw vegetables will always be more inviting to eat than at the bottom of a vegetable drawer. For all of our best tips on this subject, this article details the preparation surrounding the grocery store.

# 3 See beyond the expiration date

Wait before throwing away all your little jars of “past date” yogurt! Just because we have reached the day after the expiry date does not mean that yogurt suddenly becomes dangerous to your health. Indeed, the expiry date is only an indication of freshness, not of wholesomeness. This assures consumers that the product is fresh and has maintained its original taste, texture and nutritional value [2]. Once the jar is opened, this date is no longer valid. To learn more about food storage times, consult the Thermoguide developed by MAPAQ.

# 4 Store food well

If your food tends to perish too quickly in the refrigerator, the thermostat may be out of order. Make sure the refrigerator is set between 0 and 4 degrees. At this temperature, the multiplication of microorganisms causing food degradation is slowed down. As for the freezer, its set point must be maintained at -18 degrees in order to completely stop the multiplication of these microorganisms. [3] Don’t hesitate to refrigerate homemade breads, cakes and muffins to prolong their shelf life. Finally, if you are the type who cooks in large quantities, freeze the leftovers in reusable dishes so that nothing is lost.

# 5 Reinvent recipes or dare to mix things up!

Too often we are led to follow recipes “to the T”, which prompts us to always buy new ingredients. Note that it is often possible to replace an ingredient in a recipe with another, especially in the fruits or vegetables it contains. Cope with what you have in the fridge rather than running to the grocery store to buy what you need! Towards the end of the week, rather than buying a fast food meal or prepared meals at the grocery store, dare to mix things up with whatever ingredients you have left and especially those that are close to perishing.

Use your creativity!

[1] FAO, Pertes et gaspillages alimentaires : quelques chiffres clés, http://www.fao.org/news/story/fr/item/196443/icode/ [consulté le 16/06/2016].
[2] Lavallée, Bernard (2015). Sauver la planète une bouchée à la fois, Montréal : Les éditions La Presse, 226 pages.
[3] MAPAQ, Entreposage des aliments, http://www.mapaq.gouv.qc.ca/fr/Consommation/guideconsommateur/entreposage/Pages/entreposage.aspx [consulté le 16/06/2016].

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