Make a Difference this Earth Day
Happy Earth Day! The CHEF IQ® team has been thinking about ways in which we can help make a difference. One simple step is to help reduce the food waste that winds up in landfills. In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that almost 220 pounds of food per person is wasted annually. Though a sizable chunk of that comes from retail outlets (grocery stores and restaurants), we can all work to help reduce waste. The EPA has even put forward a goal to cut food waste in half by 2030. By following the tips for avoiding food waste offered below, you will not only be working to help save the environment but will be saving money, too.
It has happened to all of us -- we head to the store when hungry and end up with a mountain of food in the cart. Instead, map out what meals you want to make that week and shop only for what you need.
Store Foods Wisely
Before throwing all your fruits and veggies into the fridge, make sure you study up on how to properly store each item. For example, did you know tomatoes actually last longer and will taste better if left out on the counter at room temperature? Some fruits last longer with more humidity, so consult your fridge’s user manual to understand your storage options.
Have you ever bought a pack of strawberries and not touched them all week because you didn’t want to hull them just for dessert? To avoid this scenario, prep some of your fruits and vegetables before you store them in the fridge. If those carrots are already peeled and cut into handy sticks, you might be more likely to snack on them. It may require a touch more work after returning from the market, but you’ll thank yourself later.
Give Leftovers Some Love
If you’re anything like us here at CHEF iQ®, you always have some sort of leftovers. Invest in sturdy food storage containers. We often reuse plastic deli containers — but even better eco-friendly options are glass containers. Plan a dinner of leftovers. If you don’t have enough for a full meal, think about combining ingredients. Leftover sausage links might not be enough for dinner on their own, but will be filling if thrown into a fabulous frittata. Leftover potatoes can be transformed into tasty hash browns while veggies can be stirred into a hearty soup.
Scan the Sell-By Dates
When cleaning out the fridge, don’t simply throw away food because the “best by” date has passed. While food safety is paramount, you can still use your judgment. Keep in mind when evaluating food freshness that “best by” dates do not mean the food will have spoiled by that date, but that it likely tastes best if eaten by then. Note that you do want to pay attention to the “use by” dates on foods. With “sell by” dates, you usually have a day or two of leeway before you should consider tossing the item.
Don’t Forget the Freezer
You may buy food with the intention of cooking it, but instead indulge in too many takeout nights due to lack of time. Don’t automatically chuck the food -- freeze it! Many foods, such as bread, freeze excellently. Others, like berries, are perfect in a smoothie or sauce. Pro tip: Make sure you label everything you put into your freezer with names and dates, so you don’t have to play a guessing game later!