How to Reduce Food Waste

Did you know that approximately one third of the food produced in the world gets lost or wasted? This affects around 1.3 billion tonnes of food - fruits and vegetables especially have the high wastage rates. Wrong storage methods, misunderstandings regarding storage life or disorganized grocery shopping are just some of the reasons why food gets thrown away. However, reducing food waste is anything but difficult.

Here are five tips how you can reduce your food waste in your everyday life:

Understand the difference between "use by date" and "best before date"

While the best before date is about quality, the use by date is about safety. Foods can be consumed until the use by date. Afterwards the food could be unsafe to eat or drink, even if it still looks and smells fine. Since the best before date is about quality, the food is still safe to consume. However, the quality might not to be as good as intended - The flavor and the texture could be affected. Nevertheless, there is no reason for throwing food away after the best before date has passed. Knowing the difference between the two dates is an important step to reducing food waste.

Freeze food

Freezing food is a good choice to put the perishability on pause. Recently purchased food, leftovers or food which is approaching the use by date can be frozen: you can freeze pretty much anything. Frozen food should be consumed within three to six months, otherwise the quality may deteriorate. It is recommended to defrost frozen food overnight in the fridge when you are ready to consume it. However, you can also use a microwave to expedite the defrosting process. It is important to make sure that the food is thoroughly defrosted.

 Plan your meals ahead

One of the main reasons of food waste is rash grocery shopping. Planning your meals ahead is a good way to avoid purchasing food which you don't consume in the end. It is good to check what you already have before you go shopping. Food which is approaching the use by date or fresh foods, should be consumed first.

Store food properly

Storing foods in your fridge can sometimes be challenging, especially if you do not have a systematical procedure. While a fridge door suits for eggs, sauces and bottles, the bottom drawers are good for fruits and vegetables. A good storage regime inside your fridge not only helps in keeping track of your food, it also helps in extending the storage life. Because of the circulation of cold air in the fridge, there are different cold regions. The bottom and the upper part of a fridge are usually warmer than the center. Some fruits or vegetables for example need to be stored in a cold environment. Typical fruits and vegetables which are sensitive to cold include tomatoes, cucumbers or zucchinis. They should be stored in a vegetable drawer, which is usually located at the bottom of a fridge.

Have a backup plan

Changing plans are also one of the main reasons why food is wasted and thrown away. Imagine you want to prepare a fancy dish for a dinner party. After buying the food, the party gets canceled though. Now you have many ingredients, which you can't consume on your own. Instead of throwing them away, you could freeze half of them and use the other half for a different dish. Having a backup recipe prevents throwing unused food away.

References

http://www.fao.org/save-food/resources/keyfindings/en/

https://www.food.gov.uk/science/microbiology/use-by-and-best-before-dates

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