33 great little tricks to make your food last longer and reduce waste

Filed in: Green Living.

Throughout each step of the supply chain, a tremendous amount of food is wasted. From the farm to the table, an incredible 40% of the food produced in the USA. UU It ends up in landfills. And while food losses occur during the stages of production and harvest, handling and storage, processing and packaging, as well as distribution and transit, the most staggering losses occur once the food is delivered to the customer.

The equivalent of throwing approximately 20 pounds of food per person per month, Americans shot 35 million tons of food in 2012. This costs the average family of four people between $ 1,365 to $ 2,275 each year. And when good food is thrown away, not only is the food itself wasted; all the resources that were destined to its production (water, energy, agricultural chemicals, packaging, land and human labor) are also wasted.

When the final destination of the food is the landfill, the environment also pays a high price. The organic matter left to decompose in the landfill releases huge amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that traps heat 23 times more efficiently than carbon dioxide, and directly contributes to global climate change.

We are very fortunate to live in a part of the world where food is abundant, convenient and readily available. An unfortunate side effect of the ease with which we can obtain food is the perception that food is disposable. There is little doubt that if the food were less accessible and more expensive, we would think twice about throwing the food perfectly edible!

In an effort to reduce food waste, we have compiled some tips and tricks on how to prolong the longevity of the food you grow or purchase, the countless ways to make sure you consume everything you prepare and the best method. to get rid of food remains that do not harm the planet.

Audit your fridge

Refrigerators not only significantly prolong the shelf life of food, but also protect us from the consumption of harmful bacteria such as Salmonella Y E. coli. A refrigerator maintained at a temperature of 40 ° F or below stops the growth of these pathogenic microorganisms, but other bacteria that cause deterioration will in fact multiply in colder temperatures if given enough time. Although the spoilage bacteria affect the appearance, smell and taste of food, no matter how disgusting, eating unhealthy foods will not make you sick.

Depending on the type of perishable food, refrigerators can extend the quality and edibility of days or weeks of food longer than if they were stored at room temperature. To maximize the efficiency of your refrigerator, you should:

Check the temperature – Place a thermostat in the refrigerator for a few hours (and leave the door closed) to obtain an accurate reading of the internal temperature of the refrigerator. Must maintain a climate of 40 ° F or lower. Perform the same procedure with the freezer, which must be maintained at a temperature of 0? Keep clean – Avoid cross contamination by cleaning spills immediately and regularly cleaning all shelves and surfaces with a mixture of vinegar and water. Cleaning the condenser coils. annually it will keep the refrigerator running optimally and will ensure that the appliance is more energy efficient. Keep food sealed – Leftovers and open packages should be stored in airtight containers or zippered bags. Allow adequate air circulation – Cramming the refrigerator full of food will prevent cold air from circulating freely, which will cause food to spoil faster. Organize it – Place dairy products, eggs and raw meat on the lower shelves where the refrigerator is cooler. Fruits and vegetables are put in the most crunchy point. The shelves on the refrigerator door will be prone to fluctuating temperatures, so put condiments, juices and water there. The upper shelves should contain foods ready for consumption or prepared as leftovers, cold meats and cheese. Inspect and purge – Every one or two weeks, inspect the contents of your refrigerator and throw away any smelly, sticky or questionable food. As the saying goes, "a rotten apple ruins the bunch" and keeping bad food in your refrigerator will contaminate other foods.

Know what food labels really mean

Apart from infant formula and baby food, expiration dates are entirely voluntary and are not regulated by federal law in the United States. Despite this, many mistakenly believe that these dates of "what is best before", "use for" and "sell for" are related to food security, when they are not.

According to a NRDC report90% of Americans are prematurely launching good food due to the confusion surrounding these dates. Provided by the manufacturers, The expiration dates are merely advisory and only involve the quality of the food. – That is, the ideal period of time for freshness, flavor and consistency.

In most cases, foods that have passed their labeled date are still good enough to eat. Unfortunately, there is an incentive for food producers to continue adding these confusing labels to the package; This encourages the consumer to get rid of the food, which ultimately means that more food will be bought.

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Then, for the record:

Dates of "Sale" They are designed for the retailer and determine when the shopkeeper should take an item off the shelves. It has nothing to do with the safety of food and only denotes the moment when food reaches its maximum freshness.

Dates of "The Best Before" They are labeled for the consumer, but they are a recommendation and not an imperative. It is advice on when to consume the food to obtain the best quality, although the article will remain edible after the date provided.

"Use by" dates they share the same meaning as the "best date" dates, an indication of the quality of the food and not of safety.

Plan your meals

Planning your homemade menu for the week only takes a few minutes and can help you eat healthier, save money and time and reduce the amount of food thrown away. Making sure you eat everything you buy is simply sensible, so here are some tips on how to start:

Write your favorite foods – Make a list of all the foods you like to cook and eat. When you are drawing a blank space on what to do for the week, check this list. Plan meals around sales. – As a source of inspiration (and to obtain some savings), check the supermarket brochure before buying. Buy your kitchen – Before arriving at the market, check what you already have at hand. Make a shopping list – An excellent way to spend more and more is to go to the grocery store without a list! When you select a shopping list according to your meal plan (and stick to the list), you will only buy what you really need Y reduce the chances of making impulse purchases randomly. Avoid the stagnation of dinner. – Variety is the spice of life and you can get tired of preparing the same 10 to 20 meals day after day. Adding one or two new recipes to your repertoire will shake things up considerably, so surf the web or ask your relatives for their delicious recipes. Be fooled days – It is not a trap in itself, but preparing elaborate meals seven days a week is a good way to quickly exhaust yourself. Make room in your meal plan for a day or two of quick and easy meals when you know you do not feel like cooking.

Do not buy in bulk … Unless you have a plan

Buying in bulk can be a great way to save money, but it is also a terrible loss of food if your bulk purchases get bad before you can manage your meals. It does not mean that buying perishable food in large quantities is inevitably a waste, it only requires a little planning:

Keep it – If it is not humanly possible to eat the bulk purchase within one or two days, you can prepare the surplus for long-term storage can itFreezing picklingor dehydrating. Make meals easy to freeze – Perfect for those days when you do not feel like cooking, prepare in advance a large number of foods that will stay well frozen. Here are some fabulous recipes to freeze. Just make sure you have enough space in your freezer to accommodate them. Divide it with friends and family – Coordinate bulk sales with your social circle to help make the large volume of products much more manageable.

Eat your leftovers … or make smaller portions

Forgotten and forgotten, many, many leftovers have shared the same fate of being pushed to the back of the refrigerator only to be rediscovered after it is too late. If this happens frequently in your home, try to keep the leftovers in transparent containers in a visible place so you can see them every time you open the refrigerator.

If the idea of ​​eating the same meal two or three nights in a row is not tempting, try using leftovers as the basis for a different recipe. Here is a fantastic summary of common food leftovers – like pasta, pizza, rice and chicken – that can be transformed and remade into something totally new.

Otherwise, if leftovers are left frequently due to a preference for freshly prepared food, one solution is to cook only what you will eat that day. Is online calculator It will eliminate some of the guesswork when determining portions and portion sizes, depending on the size of the group. You may also want to invest in a kitchen scale.

Buy an ethylene gas absorber

Nicknamed the maturation hormone, ethylene is a gas released by some fruits and vegetables that accelerates the aging process of other products sensitive to ethylene. It is a natural mechanism that makes the fruit softer and sweeter, but also leads to faster deterioration. The amount of ethylene emitted can be increased by factors such as cold temperatures, damage to the fruit or vegetable, or by decomposition or decomposition products.

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High-ethylene producers include: passion fruit, apple, apricot, avocado, melon, peach, pear, plum, papaya, nectarine and kiwi.

Fruits and vegetables that are sensitive to ethylene: apple, kiwi, pear, apricot, banana, mango, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, cucumber, lettuce, potato, spinach and strawberry.

Although keeping ethylene producers away from the ethylene propensity is a no-cost method to extend the storage life of their fruits and vegetables, it is not very practical. Ethylene absorbents (as this) can be placed in the refrigerator of your refrigerator and help reduce ethylene levels, which results in longer fruits and vegetables.

Food storage (and recovery) tips for a longer shelf life

Small touches to help your food stay longer:

Bananas – Wrap the stem of a cluster of bananas in a plastic wrap to slow the ripening process. Head lettuce – Cover the lettuce with a cold, damp cloth and place it in a salad container. Berries – Avoid mold by washing strawberries, blueberries and raspberries in a bath of 1 cup of vinegar and 3 cups of water; rinse with water and dry completely in a salad spinning machine; Store in a container with a loose lid so moisture can escape. The tomatoes – Keep the tomatoes at room temperature and place them on a flat surface. Flour – Prevent the weevils from infesting their grains by storing flour in the freezer for a week. Onions – Storing onions in pantyhose can maintain freshness for up to six months when they are hung in a cool, dry and dark space. Drop an onion on a stocking leg and tie a knot. Keep adding onions and knots until each leg is full. Herbs – Treat fresh herbs such as cilantro, basil, green onions and parsley as fresh cut flowers by cutting an inch from the ends and placing them, stems down, in jars filled with water; cover the upper parts with a plastic bag and tie them with a rubber band; Put them in the fridge and fill the water as necessary. Honey – Although it will NEVER go wrong, the honey will crystallize with time. You can soften the honey by putting the sealed bottle in warm water (not boiling) and letting it rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Potatoes – Storing your potatoes with just one apple will help keep the potatoes firm and free of jets for approximately eight weeks. Celery – Wrap celery stems in aluminum foil to prolong freshness for a month or more. Milk – Adding a pinch of salt to a milk carton will not affect the flavor and will make the dairy products last a little longer. Withered leafy greens – Return the soaked lettuce, arugula and spinach to its former splendor by cutting the golden leaves and soaking them in ice water for 20 to 60 minutes. Cucumber – Store the cucumber at room temperature, not in the refrigerator. Asparagus – Like herbs, the asparagus should be trimmed and then placed in a jar of water; Cover it with a plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator.

Recycle your food waste

Through better management, much of the food that is thrown away in homes is totally avoidable. Although studies on avoidable food waste are lacking in the United States, research in the European Union can give us a rough idea of ​​how much food waste can be prevented. According to a study published in Environmental research lettersNearly 80% of the food wasted in the EU is edible, but it is not consumed.

After paper products, food waste is the second largest contributor to landfills in the United States, rather than plastics, metals, glass and textiles. Organic waste (food scraps, garden clippings and paper) are among the easiest things to recycle, and yet only 34% of all waste generated is diverted from the landfill.

Landfills bury waste in a "dry grave" that creates an arid, anaerobic (or airless) environment. In this state, the normal biological process atrophies and results in the creation of methane, nitrous oxide and other harmful gases.

To reduce the carbon footprint of organic waste, food waste must always be recycled. The benefits of composting they are abundant, and when you allow organic substances to decompose as predicted by nature, very little carbon dioxide is generated. Because oxygen and moisture are essential for a healthy compost pile, the contamination caused by the dry tomb filling does not occur. And not only composting will drastically reduce the environmental impact of food waste, its by-product, humus, enrich the land, keeps our fertile soil, and yes, it can even be used to grow more food.

Here is another great way to use leftover food remains: How to grow beautiful indoor plants from food waste that you would normally throw away

Reference: https://www.naturallivingideas.com/make-food-last-longer/, by Lindsay Sheehan

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