Did you know that 40% of food goes uneaten in the US each year?!1 In a typical week, an average American family of four purchases 96 lbs. of food, and of that 22 lbs.—or about 23%-- goes to waste in the home.2 That’s like buying four bags of groceries and tossing one in the trash, yet 1 in 7 Americans experiences food insecurity.3
Taking small actions in your home can help reduce the valuable nutrients lost and even help the planet, too. Unsure of where to start? Here we’re diving into some tips to reduce food waste along with some delicious dairy-centric recipes.
PLAN MEALS AND SNACKS FOR THE WEEK
Taking time to sit down and make a meal and snack plan for the week will help reduce overbuying and reduce food waste. A good place to start is by looking at what is on-sale for the week to help guide you in your meal and recipe choices. Then you can create a list for just the amount of ingredients you need for the week rather than guessing. Meal planning doesn’t have to be boring! Including meals like this pizza with yogurt sauce can help keep your meals exciting and balanced.
Planning for leftovers to use throughout the week can also be helpful in reducing food waste. If you’re not a fan of leftovers look for other ways to repurpose foods throughout the week. One example of this is taking leftover roasted veggies to add to cheese omelets or an egg bake. Or you could take leftover chicken and shred it to make tacos for another meal—get creative! These lasagna roll-ups make for a great meal throughout the week OR they can be frozen in individual servings to be used for quick meals.
MASTER FREEZER MEALS AND STAPLES
Make your freezer your best friend! Consider making extra batches of meals. If certain items are on-sale that could be used in a soup, lasagna, or casserole make two batches. Then you can serve one for a meal and refrigerate or freeze the other for later. Always have fruits and veggies in your freezer. This is an excellent way to get more color into your meals without having to worry about wasting fresh produce. If you can’t use up fresh produce, toss it in the freezer before it goes bad to thaw and use later just like this quick and tasty peanut butter strawberry banana smoothie!
COOK FROM YOUR PANTRY
Having pantry staples is great to make quick, balanced meals. Everyone will have different staple foods, so starting with items you feel comfortable cooking in meals is a great option. Do an inventory of your pantry every few weeks so you can use what you have on hand in meals before buying more. This slow cooker creamy chicken cheddar broccoli rice is a great option using freezer and pantry staples.
There are few foods deliver dairy’s powerhouse of readily available nutrients including calcium, vitamin B12, protein, zinc, and selenium just to name a few! It’s also affordable and delicious. This makes it a great option to incorporate into your meal planning, snacks, and refrigerator staple foods to boost the nutrient quality of your overall diet.
Consistently making some or all of these actions habits each week will have a positive impact on our lives, help reduce our food waste, and benefit the environment.
1. Hall KD, Guo J, Dore M, Chow CC (2009) The Progressive Increase of Food Waste in America and Its Environmental Impact. PLoS ONE 4(11): e7940. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0007940
2. Buzby, J. C., Wells, H. F., & Hyman, J. (2014). The estimated amount, value, and calories of postharvest food losses at the retail and consumer levels in the United States. EIB-121, ERS, USDA.
3. Feeding America (2016) https://www.feedingamerica.org/
American Dairy Association North East is one of 16 state and regional promotion organizations working under the umbrella of the United Dairy Industry Association. It is the local affiliate of the National Dairy Council®, which has been conducting nutrition education and nutrition research programs since 1915. For more information, visit www.americandairy.com.