Are you looking for ways to reduce food waste and save money? You’re in luck. This blog post will provide you with simple and practical tips to help you achieve your goals. From meal planning to creative uses for leftovers, we’ll cover all the bases to help you make the most of your food and your budget
Food waste is a term used to define food that is thrown away or wasted, instead of being used for its intended purpose. This includes food that is lost during production, transportation, or storage, as well as food that is discarded by consumers.
Globally, around 13 percent of food produced is lost between harvest and retail, while an estimated 17 percent of total global food production is wasted in households, in the food service and in retail all together.
So, reducing food waste is important for the environment and for our wallets.
What is the problem of food waste
The problem of food waste is a complex and multifaceted issue. Food waste happens at all stages of the food system, from production to consumption. In the production stage, crops may be lost due to weather, pests, or disease. In the distribution stage, food can be lost due to spoilage or damage during transport. And at the consumer stage, food is often thrown away due to cosmetic imperfections, date labels, or confusion about what “sell by” dates mean.
The environmental impact of food waste is disturbing. Its impact on the economy, society, and environment at large is heavy and hence, the need to solve these problems.
When food is thrown away, it ends up in landfills, where it decomposes and produces methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Food waste also contributes to water and energy waste, as it takes a lot of resources to produce and transport food. And one important thing too, when we throw away food, we’re also wasting the money and labor that went into producing it. So, food waste has a big impact on the environment, the economy, and society as a whole.
Financial and environmental cost of throwing away food.
Research shows that Americans throw away about $165 billion worth of food each year. This adds up to about $1,500 per household. Likewise, According to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), an estimated 14 million tons of food is wasted in Nigeria every year, making it one of the highest contributors to food wastage in Africa. This outrageous amount of wastage is equivalent to nearly 25% of the total food produced in the country. Now, a Data compiled, says that the average Nigerian household spends roughly 59% of its income on food. That is, an average Nigerian spends $62 (48,186) each month on food. Note that this is above the minimum salary in Nigeria.
With all this, it is okay to say, Food waste also has a big environmental cost. As earlier mentioned, food waste produces methane, a greenhouse gas that’s 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. And since it takes a lot of water and energy to produce food, food waste also contributes to water and energy waste. So, in addition to the moral cost of throwing away food, there are also significant financial and environmental costs.
Tips for reducing food waste and saving money
There are some solutions to the problem of food waste. Therefore, we would look at tips for reducing food waste first then, tips for saving money.
Tips for reducing food waste
Here are a few ways to minimize food waste.
- Plan your meals in advance: One way to reduce waste in your home is to plan your meal in advance so you only buy what you need. This can also help you save money. Already knowing what you need makes you buy just the quantity you need and this is very effective in reducing food waste.
- Shop at farmers markets or farm stands: When you shop at farmers markets or farm stands, you’re buying food directly from the source. This means that you’re getting fresh food, and you can buy exactly the amount you need. Instead of buying a whole head of vegetables, for example, you can just buy a few leaves. This can help you to reduce food waste.
- Buy imperfect produce: Imperfect produce is food that is cosmetically imperfect, but is still perfectly edible. This includes items like slightly misshapen fruit or vegetables with cosmetic blemishes. These items are often sold at a discount at farmers markets and some grocery stores. Buying imperfect produce is a great way to reduce food waste as they are still edible and shouldn’t be thrown away. Besides they are often sold on discount and this enables you to save money too.
- Donate surplus food: Another way to reduce food waste is to donate your surplus food to a food bank or community kitchen. This is food that you would otherwise throw away, such as extra produce from your garden or unused leftovers. By donating this food, you’re making sure it goes to people who can use it, rather than letting it go to waste. So next time instead of throwing the remaining food, just donate it.
- Buy frozen or canned foods: Frozen and canned foods have a much longer expiration date than fresh foods, so they’re less likely to spoil and be thrown away. Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked and frozen at peak freshness, so they retain their nutrients and can be just as healthy as fresh produce. Same goes for Canned foods. So, by choosing frozen or canned foods, you can reduce your food waste and save money too.
- Understand the difference between “best by,” “sell by,” and “use by” dates: “Best by,” “sell by,” and “use by” dates are often misinterpreted by consumers. These dates don’t insinuate that the food is unsafe to eat, but rather they indicate when the food will be at its peak quality. So, for example, a “best by” date of January 1 on a can of soup doesn’t mean you have to throw it out on January 2. Instead, it’s just a suggestion for when the soup will be at its best. Knowing the difference between these dates can help you to reduce food waste, by not throwing away perfectly good food based on the date on the label.
Tips for saving money
Here are some tips for saving money on food
- Make a shopping list and stick to it: Making a shopping list and sticking to it can help you to save money greatly. It can help you to avoid impulse purchases that you don’t really need, buying things because you saw them or want them and not really need them. it can also help you to plan meals around the items on your list, so you’re not buying extra ingredients that will just go to waste. it can also help you to stick to your budget, by only buying what you’ve planned for. And sticking to your budget can save you money in the long run.
- Shop at stores with good prices: Shopping at stores with good prices like discount grocery stores or ethnic markets is another great way to save money. Discount grocery stores offer low prices on many items. Ethnic markets often have lower prices on specific items, like produce or spices. Shopping at these types of stores can help you to get the most for your money.
- Use coupons and sales to your advantage: Coupons and sales can be another great way to save money on groceries. Many grocery stores offer digital coupons that you can add to your account and automatically apply at checkout. And many grocery stores also run sales on specific items or categories of items. You can often find these coupons and sales in the store’s weekly ad. And you can also find coupons and sales online.
- Buy store brands instead of name brands: Store brands, also known as “private label” brands, are usually much cheaper than their name-brand counterparts. And in many cases, the quality of store brands is just as good as name brands. So, you can save a significant amount of money by choosing store brands over name brands.
- Buy in bulk, especially for items that you use often: Many grocery stores offer bulk bins, where you can buy items like rice, beans, nuts, and spices in large quantities at a lower cost per unit. Buying items like toilet paper and paper towels in bulk can also be a great way to save money. And some stores even offer bulk discounts on fresh produce and meat.
- Cook at home more often, rather than eating out: Cooking at home is one of the best ways to save money on food. Restaurant meals can be much more expensive than home-cooked meals. You can also cook in bulk and freeze leftovers to save even more money.
Tips for reducing food waste and saving money is a way to help the society economically and financially. When we stop wasting food, the economy stops losing so much money and you can be a part of the reformation to saying No to food waste. Help yourselves and help the society.
Additionally, You can also store your food properly to make it last longer. For example, you can wrap leafy greens in damp paper towels to keep them fresh. You can also get creative with your leftovers, like turning them into new dishes or using them in recipes. And finally, you can compost your food scraps to keep them out of landfills.
Will you be more patriotic and say No to food waste?
Let me know in the comments.