Dakota County is kicking off a campaign to stop food waste in homes starting in 2017. Food waste is the largest component of our trash in Minnesota at 18 percent. Throughout the year you will see opportunities to learn about smart shopping, storing and cooking food. We are partnering with the SavetheFood.com campaign created by the Ad Council and National Resources Defense Council.
American families throw away about
25 percent of the food they buy. That’s like leaving the grocery store with four bags, dropping one in the parking lot and not bothering to pick it up.
This impacts not only your wallet, but also how we use our resources. In the United States, 50 percent of land is used for growing food, which requires freshwater, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and energy.
Food is the single largest component of trash in Minnesota. In Dakota County, household trash usually ends up in a landfill where the food rots and produces methane, a greenhouse gas more than 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.
What you can do
By implementing one, or all, of the tools listed below, you can reduce your food waste, save money and conserve our natural resources.
Take a deeper look
Start paying attention to the food you toss in the garbage. Use a
tracking sheet from Eureka Recycling for a few weeks or a month to understand the foods that don’t get eaten.
Before going shopping, think about how many meals will be eaten at home in the upcoming week, including lunches. See what items you have in the fridge and cupboards first and plan meals around what is on hand.
- Make a
shopping list taking note of the quantity needed to avoid over purchasing.
- Buy fruits and vegetables sold loose and only buy what is needed. For example, take four bananas instead of six.
- Buy what you need. Buying large amount of a product is not a good deal if it ends up in the trash.
- Check out the discount section in the produce department. Fruits and vegetables might not look perfect, but they taste just as good.
- Know the difference between
"sell by" and "use by" dates.
Prep now, cook later
Prepping some or all of your food for the week as soon as you get back from the grocery store will increase the likelihood of food being seen and eaten as well as saving time later on.
- Wash, chop, slice, dry and store produce that will be used for the next few days. Freeze extras that you might not use right away.
- When preparing meals, only cook the amount needed for that one meal if you do not think the leftovers will be eaten.
- Cook large batches of meat upfront and freeze individual portions for later. Consider cooking and freezing large quantities of chicken breasts or hamburger to use in a variety of recipes.
- Use online resources like
Allrecipes to search recipes by ingredient. You can also make easy-to-use shopping lists with Allrecipes.
Know how to store
Storing different foods in ways that prolong their life can dramatically reduce food waste.
Eat what you buy
All this planning, shopping and prepping is useless if the food doesn’t get eaten. Pay attention to behaviors that encourage you and your family to eat what you have.
- Move food that should be eaten soon to a designated area in the fridge, and use those ingredients first.
Print out a “Use It Up” sign to label your new shelf.
- There are great websites to help breathe new life into
leftover ingredients. Hot dishes, soups, smoothies, frittatas, burritos and potpies are all easy delicious ways to repurpose leftovers. Sharing leftovers with friends or coworkers is also a great way to use it up.
Ten Tips to Prevent Wasted Food, Eureka Recycling
Video: Why does half of America’s food go to waste, PBS News Hour
Food: Too Good To Waste, West Coast Climate and Materials Management Forum
Love Food, Hate Waste
I Value Food, Sustainable America