Friday nights at our house are always pizza and movie night. We started this family tradition when my oldest daughter was in kindergarten. It gave us something to look forward to and helped everyone relax and enjoy time being together after a busy week. I read an article this week focusing on how we can reduce food waste and pizza night came to mind. Making homemade pizza is one of my favorite things to do, so our pizza is made using what I find in the fridge at the end of the week; maybe a scrap of onion and any other vegetables that need to be used in the vegetable drawer, some of my daughter’s favorite salami, and cans of tomatoes that are always in the pantry. Pizza night helps reduce food waste in our house.
Food waste is leftovers that don’t get eaten, produce that goes bad before it is purchased at the store, food thrown out because it is past an expiration date, spoiled food in your own fridge or food that spoils while being transported from where it was made to where it will be sold. The author of the article noted that “According to the USDA, it’s estimated that Americans dispose of 30-40% of the food supply in the United States, which wastes money, time, and natural resources.”1 Reducing food waste is good for the environment (food waste is the single largest category of material in landfills). Reducing food waste can also save money and help improve your diet.
Reducing food waste starts with smart meal planning. Before you go to the store, take inventory of what you already have and decide how you can use that in your meals. Pizza night gives me one meal a week that is always set. You could have baked potato night, or soup, or stir fry once a week. Make a routine to use what you already have on hand and this will save you time and money.
When you are at the store, stick to what is on your list. Buying extras can lead to food waste and also wastes money. When you have a meal plan, a list, and you know what you need, going to the store may also take less time. Don’t put anything in your cart, unless you have a plan for how you will use it. It is also helpful to purchase things that can be used for more than one meal.
Utilizing products that are canned and frozen is another strategy to reduce waste because these products last longer than fresh items. When purchasing canned fruits, look for fruit that is in 100% juice. When purchasing canned veggies, look for low sodium options. You can use water to rinse canned fruits and vegetables before eating to reduce the sugar and sodium content. Fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy (butter, cheese), and grains can all be placed in the freezer if you aren’t able to use them as soon as planned.
Find a strategy that will work for you and make a plan to reduce food waste in your household. Maybe it will spark a new weekly tradition, like pizza night, and be part of your routine for years to come.
- Rust, MS, RDN, Roseanne. “Reducing Food Waste: The Dietitian’s Role in Helping the Cause and Strategies for Counseling Clients.” Today’s Dietitian, Vol 24. No. 3, March 2022, P. 36-39.