During March we celebrate National Nutrition Month and this year’s theme is “Go Further with Food.” The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is asking the leaders in our communities to help spread this important message by educating our friends and families on ways to help reduce food waste in our country. Here at AIM, our practitioners are very passionate about this issue. By supporting amazing organization like La Soupe and frequently talking with patients in our Get Well Program, we are very aware of the fact that “Up to 40% of the food in the United States is never eaten. But at the same time, one in eight Americans struggles to put enough food on the table.”
In order to do our part this month, we talked with our dietitian, Liz DeJulius, and she came up with some simple ideas that every family can easily implement to help reduce their food waste.
- Meal Planning: By knowing ahead of time what you are going to eat, you reduce your risk of buying too much produce, dairy or meat, which can all spoil easily. Working to create a healthy, weekly meal plan just two or three times will help you have a tasty rotation of foods in your diet that will reduce boredom with your meals.
- Reassess: Once you have your meal plan and before you go shopping, review the items you already have in your pantry and fridge. Too often, people buy foods they already own because they didn’t take a moment to do this simple step.
- Make a Shopping List (… and stick to it!): One of the easiest ways to help yourself adhere to your shopping list is by eating BEFORE you go to the grocery store. People often veer from their lists when they start thinking about what they want to eat in the moment. By eating beforehand, the temptation to buy items off of your list will be reduced.
- Utilize Your Freezer: Many people don’t like to eat the same thing over and over and over again. If you make a meal, instead of putting the leftovers in the fridge, which you may not be in the mood for during the next day or two, freeze it instead! That way, when you have a busy day in the future, you already have a meal ready to go. For those of us who don’t like to eat leftovers, it is VERY important that you understand your typical portion size in order to reduce your waste.
- Monitor: Create a Food-Waste List and put it by your trashcan. Every time you have to throw away some food, write it down. Within a month or two, you will better understand what you may be over buying and the portions that you and your family really need to be prepared during each meal.
- Eating Out: Avoid ordering appetizers when going out to eat. This will reduce your need to carry your main meal home, which often gets tossed out when we feel it has sat in the car too long because we didn’t head home right after the meal. Order you main course and then, at the end of the meal if you are still hungry, consider adding the appetizer or additional side salad at that point.