5 Ways to Avoid Food Waste and Help the Planet

Fall is the time of year when we start thinking about upcoming holiday celebrations, and the beautiful, elaborate meals we’ll be preparing to share with family.

Unfortunately, one of the biggest issues plaguing the environment is food waste, which happens year-round – let alone during extravagant holiday meals and family celebrations, where we buy too much and prepare more than we need.

Tips on How to Reduce Food Waste

The Importance of Environmental-Friendly Choices

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, an estimated one-third, or about 1.3 billion tons, of all food produced globally is lost or goes to waste, which contributes to global food insecurity.

It is a harsh scenario to consider, especially when we are lucky enough to have food on the fridge or the pantry whenever we get hungry. But this privilege can also inspire us to make more conscious choices.

A recent survey conducted by Herbalife Nutrition around plant-based diets showed that 40% of respondents’ food choices are a result of wanting to be more environmentally friendly. Reducing food waste is an additional, simple action that can have a great effect.

How You Can Make a Positive Impact

When planning your family meals there are several ways in which you can help reduce food waste and live more sustainably. Here are five of them:

1. Plan Ahead

Whether you’re meal-prepping nutritious meals for the week, or planning the menu for your next soiree, planning ahead is a great way to ensure you’re preparing only what you can consume and not serving your guests more than they can eat.

2. Consider Cooking with More Sustainable Ingredients

People are leaning towards more plant-based diets for a variety of reasons, including health concerns, weight loss, or concerns about the environment.  For those who are just starting to experiment, it might be best to adopt a “flexitarian” diet or menu, which is a primarily plant-based diet with the occasional inclusion of meat, poultry, fish or eggs. It’s a great way to maintain a healthy, balanced diet, while helping to protect the environment by cutting down on energy and resources used to produce red meat.

3. Plate up in the kitchen instead of at the table

Consider portioning out your meal in the kitchen. Serving food family-style makes it easy for everyone to help themselves, which is precisely why it’s not such a good idea if you’re trying to control portions, and ultimately avoid food waste. With serving dishes on the table, it’s just too easy to have “just another spoonful.” One of the biggest sources of food waste comes from food left on the plate, which often ends up in the trash.

4. Repurpose foods that are reaching expiration

There are many ways to get the most out of your perishable food items, even when they start to look a little sad. When your tomatoes get too mushy to cut up for salads, consider making them into homemade tomato sauce. Are your bananas getting brown and squishy? Give them more life by unpeeling them and keep them in the freezer as a healthy smoothie ingredient! Soups, stews, salads are great dishes that can incorporate many different ingredients with shorter shelf lives.

5. Donate extras to those in need

Clearing out your pantry? Consider donating extra shelf-stable food items to local food banks and charities. You can find local food banks through Why Hunger.

The next time you are cleaning out your refrigerator, freezer or pantry, pay attention to what you’ve tossed and make an effort to reduce food waste in the future.

Ready to take action? Download our #NutritionforZeroHunger guide on food waste reduction and make a difference today.

Susan Bowerman, M.S., RD, CSSD, CSOWM, FAND –Sr.Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training

Susan BowermanM.S., RD, CSSD, CSOWM, FAND – Sr. Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training

Susan Bowerman earned a B.S. in biology with distinction from the University of Colorado, and received her M.S. in food science and nutrition from Colorado State University. She is a registered dietitian, holds two board certifications from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as a certified specialist in sports dietetics, and a certified specialist in obesity and weight management, and is a Fellow of the Academy.