Independence Day is right around the corner, and you’re eager to spend it outdoors munching on holiday food favorites at this year’s cookout. Between your son’s superb grilling skills and your niece’s knack for desserts, you expect you’ll need a second plate before you’ve made it down the buffet line. You know you tend to overindulge at cookouts. (You may have been accused of having eyes bigger than your stomach at last year’s celebration.) Sure, you don’t eat everything, but what’s the harm? It’s one day.
The fact is food waste is not restricted to just one day. According to the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, approximately 80 billion pounds of food is discarded in U.S. landfills each year, nearly half of which comes from residential sources. We’re all guilty of taking more than we can eat, whether it’s that last bite or an entire meal. And while food waste isn’t entirely preventable, taking small steps to reduce wasted food in your home can benefit the environment and save you money and time at the grocery store.
The following are just a few ways older adults can reduce food waste this summer:
- Shop Your Refrigerator & Pantry: You always intend to see what food you have before you head to the grocery store, but before you know it, your list is created and you’re walking down Aisle 2. Make a real effort to see what you already have at home before you buy more.
- Buy What You Will Realistically Use: Buying in bulk can be a great deal if you’re hosting a large group of people, but if you live alone or with one other person, buying perishable food items in bulk isn’t the wisest choice for your wallet or the environment.
- Be Creative with Food Scraps: Did you know you can use celery leaves in place of parsley? Or that you can use corncobs to flavor your chowder? A quick online search can render a number of creative and safe ways you can use the edible parts of food you do not normally eat.
- Preserve or Can Surplus Fruits & Vegetables: If you grow your own produce or enjoy supporting local farmer’s markets, try your hand at preserving or canning. Not only will you reduce food waste, you’ll have a new retirement hobby—not to mention a new source of homemade gifts for children and grandchildren.
- Compost Food Scraps: Composting is nature’s process of recycling decomposed organic materials into rich soil. Composting your excess food instead of throwing it away has a number of environmental benefits. Plus, compost can feed the soil you use for gardening.
If you follow all these steps but still find yourself with excess food, don’t simply throw it away. Donate all nutritious, safe, and untouched food to local food banks to help hungry people in your community.
This summer and beyond, make it your goal to reduce food waste in your home. A few small changes can mean big benefits for you, your community, and the greater environment.
What foods should you fill your plate with this Independence Day? Check out our latest guide for help making the nutritious choices!