Happy National Nutrition Month! Week three, the talk is food waste. Many of us have become more mindful when it comes to what we throw in the garbage. Food waste, as we’ve found out, it’s not great for the environment...or our wallets. As we discussed in past entries about Intuitive Eating, one big goal is to relearn our innate body cues of hunger and fullness. That may mean leaving food on your plate. The talk of food waste tends to make it confusing as it can feel wasteful to throw away a plate after you find you are full. I remind my clients it is waste whether they throw away food or they eat it after they have reached the point of fullness. (I.e. your body is just going to turn it into waste anyway).
There are many ways to reduce food waste, starting with what we already have in stock.
1. Get Creative with What’s in the Pantry
Take inventory of what you already have, that means fridge, freezer, and every cabinet. It’s important to know this before grocery shopping (especially if it’s been a long time). When you know, create a meal plan for the next 2-3 days based on the inventory. To simplify it, I like my clients to write down 2 breakfast ideas, lunch ideas, and dinner ideas. Then make a grocery list based on the items you still need.
2. Grocery Shop with a List, Not an Empty Stomach
We have all gone grocery shopping while hungry. Where did that get us? A bill that is $50 more and too many frozen items to fit in our freezer. Try making a list of items that you need to buy (based on the inventory you created above) and stick to that list. This will help you reduce impulse buying and reduce food waste as well.
3. Start Small
Who’s eyes have ever been bigger than your stomach? Meeee. It’s helpful to start small and remind yourself you can go back for seconds if you’re still hungry. Did you know it takes about 20min for your digestive system to let your brain know if it is full and satisfied? Tune in and listen. That’s one of the biggest parts of intuitive eating. We won’t always get it right, but little by little we become more intune.
4. Get Creative with Leftovers
If you are someone who cooks often, designate a day to use up any leftovers you have accumulated in the fridge. Storing leftovers in a clear glass container, rather than in an opaque container, helps ensure you don’t forget the food. It’s a great way to avoid throwing away food. Now what to do with the leftovers is the fun part. Blend up over-ripe fruits and veggies, use the stems of herbs and vegetables. Turn rice and chicken into stir fry tacos or create a casserole. There is no limit to your creativity. Ask your roommate or kids what fun creation you can make.
5. Utilize Your Freezer
Freezing food is one of the easiest ways to preserve food waste. Lucky for us, there is an endless list of foods that take well to freezing. As an example, greens that are a bit too soft to be used in your favorite salad can be put in freezer-safe bags or containers and used at a later date in smoothies and other recipes. An excess of herbs can be combined with olive oil and chopped garlic, then frozen in ice cube trays for a handy and delicious addition to sautés and other dishes. You can freeze leftovers from meals, excess produce, and bulk meals like soups and chilis. It’s a great way to ensure you always have a quick, home-cooked meal available.
The Take Away
By thinking more about the food your household wastes every day, you can help create positive change to conserve some of the earth’s most valuable resources. Even minimal changes to the way you shop, cook and consume food will help reduce your impact on the environment. It doesn’t have to be difficult. With a small amount of effort, you can cut your food waste dramatically to save money and time. There are many more ways you can reduce, reuse and recycle your food waste. What is your favorite way to save food? If you have any other ideas, we would love to hear them!
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