Fall is the time of year when we start thinking about upcoming holiday celebrations, and the beautiful, elaborate meals we’ll be preparing to share with family.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest issues plaguing the environment is food waste, which happens year-round—let alone during extravagant holiday meals and family celebrations, where we buy too much and prepare more than we need.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, an estimated one-third, or about 1.3 billion tons, of all food produced globally is lost or goes to waste, which contributes to global food insecurity.
Not only is food waste an issue, but many people are starting to realize the importance of sustainable ingredients to help the environment. A recent survey conducted by Herbalife Nutrition around plant-based diets showed that 40% of respondents’ food choices are a result of wanting to be more environmentally friendly.
This increasing awareness, along with World Food Day taking place on October 16, has sparked the revolution for #ZeroHunger, a global initiative to eliminate hunger and provide access to nutritious meals for children, Susan Bowerman shares seven tips to consider when planning your family meals to help reduce food waste and live more sustainably:
- Plan Ahead
Whether you’re meal-prepping nutritious meals for the week, or planning the menu for your next soiree, planning ahead is a great way to ensure you’re preparing only what you can consume and not serving your guests more than they can eat.
- Consider Cooking with More Sustainable Ingredients
People are leaning towards more plant-based diets for a variety of reasons, including health concerns, for weight loss, for religious reasons, or concerns about the environment. For those who are just starting to experiment, it might be best to adopt a “flexitarian” diet or menu, which is a primarily plant-based diet with the occasional inclusion of meat, poultry, fish or eggs. It’s a great way to maintain a healthy, balanced diet while helping to protect the environment by cutting down on energy and resources used to produce red meat. A recent study conducted by Herbalife Nutrition uncovered that 40% of the respondents who identified as flexitarian chose this type of diet in order to be more environmentally-friendly.
- Plate up in the kitchen instead of at the table
Consider portioning out your meal in the kitchen. Serving food family-style makes it easy for everyone to help themselves, which is precisely why it’s not such a good idea if you’re trying to control portions, and ultimately avoid food waste. With serving dishes on the table, it’s just too easy to have “just another spoonful.” One of the biggest sources of food waste comes from food left on the plate, which often ends up in the trash.
- Learn about the dating system of food labels
Most of what we waste is safe and edible—like the remains of a family-sized carton of yogurt or the heels of a loaf of bread. A sell-by date is really just the date that food has to be pulled from the store shelves—a use-by date is suggested for best flavor or quality, but foods are safe to eat after this date. For instance, milk can easily last another week past the date, and eggs should last another three weeks.
- Repurpose foods that are reaching expiration
There are many ways to get the most out of your perishable food items, even when they start to look a little sad. When your tomatoes get too mushy to cut up for salads, consider making them into homemade tomato sauce. Are your bananas getting brown and squishy? Give them more life by unpeeling them and keep them in the freezer as a healthy smoothie ingredient! Soups, stews, salads are great dishes that can incorporate many different ingredients with shorter shelf lives.
- Bigger Is Not Always Better
Yes, larger good packages and buying in bulk can have their financial upsides, but if you’re committed to helping the environment, and avoiding food waste, consider buying only what you know you’ll actually be able to consume.
- Donate extras to those in need
Clearing out your pantry? Consider donating extra shelf-stable food items to local food banks and charities. You can find local food banks through Why Hunger (https://whyhunger.org/find-food/?gclid=cljn1abt1cmcfdgpgqodmkoaww)
The next time you are cleaning out your refrigerator, freezer or pantry, pay attention to how much food you’ve tossed and make an effort to reduce food waste in the future.
For more tips from Susan Bowerman, visit www.IAMHerbalifeNutrition.com.