How much food do you think your family throws away each year?

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans threw away more than 34 million tons of food in 2010. That is absolutely appalling. Food waste is the largest component of municipal solid waste. FOOD! Not paper (that was second) or plastic (disposable water bottles drive me crazy!), but food. You know, the stuff we pay to eat and then complain about how expensive it is.  At the very least we can put it into the compost barrels.

Want to know how you can reduce the amount of food you toss? Here are some helpful suggestions:

  1. Buy less. This is hard for me, especially at the farmer’s market, but I’m getting a lot better. I’ve found that I really didn’t understand how many carrots or tomatoes or heads of lettuce we REALLY needed in a week. Putting our family on a budget along with buying more organic produce makes me very conscious of how much we really eat. Also supporting a local CSA helps because you get a set share every week and it helps introduce you to new and interesting vegetables.  And of course, never
  2. Compost your kitchen scraps. We have two compost systems in our back yard and we probably need another rotating bin. If you have just a bit of space, you can turn your produce scraps, coffee grounds, egg shells, corn husks and even some paper into rich garden compost. We have been amazed at how empty our garbage bin is when we take it to the curb each week.
  3. Eat your leftovers. I know, I know. Leftovers can be boring. But, with a little planning what’s made tonight can become tomorrow’s take to work lunch (Which saves more!).  And sometimes the leftovers from one meal can be rolled into the next.  Think spaghetti one night with a little extra pasta and fried spaghetti the next night, or beans one night and bean soup the next.
  4. Freeze extra produce. Did you know you can freeze most produce whole? If you freeze tomatoes and peaches whole, they are easy to peel once they thaw. Beats blanching any day in my book.
  5. Donate. Have a bunch of extra tomatoes or squash or cucumbers? Share with your neighbors! Not only will you make them extremely happy, but you’ll reduce the amount of food you’re wasting.  When tomato season comes around there’s always bags of the stuff to give away!

Ok, so with this knowledge I am re-committing our family to reduce our food waste. What about you? Do you have suggestions? Share!