Top 5 Tips during Food Waste Awareness Month
Did you know that the USDA reported that American waste more than 130 billion pounds of food annually? The even crazier statistic is that about 1 in 6 Americans goes to bed hungry. So often we might see a sale and indulge when we don’t have a plan for that product and before you know it, it goes bad. In efforts to combat this the EPA, USDA, and FDA declare April food waste awareness month. Here are our top tips for loving up on the leftovers.
Keep air and heat out
It is important to let foods cool before placing them in the freezer. When freezing anything, you need to let it sit out and cool before packaging and freezing. If something is packed hot the item will have steam trapped in the container, causing an increase in frost. Although this is not an issue or food safety it can change the taste of some foods. When freezing anything, make sure you get as much air out of containers as possible. If you are freezing any baked goods, try wrapping them in plastic wrap or foil and then place inside of a bag. This helps prevent the air from making the food stale.
When storing fruits and vegetables, blanching is the best way to preserve color, taste, and vitamins. For blanching, you wash your produce and then place them into boiling water for the recommended time. Then you drain the water and place the produce in ice water until it is cooled.
With freezing more foods comes defrosting more foods. Defrosting correctly is important for food safety. The best and safest way is to place the food into the fridge overnight to thaw. If you forget to set the food down the night before (let’s be honest it has happened to the best of us), you do have some other options to get the job done. You can thaw foods with the appropriate microwave setting. You can also place foods under cold running water.
Adapt the Recipe You are Using
Have a few leftovers from the week? Think through how you could reuse them in your upcoming meals! For example: taco tuesdays, everything but the sink salads, and even purees can take on multiple flavor profiles with a few additions from your previous meals. Or if you meal calls for something briney like a caper, you could substitute olives or lemon juice if you have that on hand.
Stick To Your List
Think through that extra item you are about to put into your cart that’s not on the grocery list. If you don’t have a plan for it, you might end up wasting it. Items that are canned or frozen are easy to revamp but if it has a quick expiration date or is fresh be sure to have a backup plan to cook and freeze it!