Here’s a shocker: Experts say we waste up to 40 percent of our food. In fact, the average family tosses out up to $4,000 worth of food every year. Jonathan Bloom is the author of “American Wasteland.” He says that most of us don’t realize how much is thrown out every day on farms, in grocery stores, and in our own kitchens. So, here are four tips to make the most of your food.
- First, before schleppin’ to the grocery store, plan ahead. Try planning meals for one week at a time, or plan for a few key meals and jot down what you need. You’ll toss out a lot less – and save money - if you buy only what you plan to use. Try an app like Recipe Matcher. You tell it which items you have in the fridge and it’ll give you recipes that use those items.
- You’ll also waste less food by buying frozen items. For example, if you throw out unused produce every week, why not buy frozen fruits and vegetables that’ll keep a lot longer. If you don’t think they’ll be as nutritious, know this: A recent study found that the amount of vitamin C in fresh broccoli drops more than half within seven days, but it only drops 10 percent a few months after it’s frozen. In fact, levels of certain antioxidants and minerals actually increase after freezing.
- When it comes to your refrigerator, perishables will last longer if you keep it set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll extend the shelf-life of bread and meat by one year if you keep them in the freezer. Before frost covers the packaging, use a marker and write down what’s inside, and the current date.
- One final tip that can help you waste less food: Don’t freak out over the use-by, sell-by, and eat-by dates. Experts say they’re designed for quality, not safety. Bottom line: If it smells, looks, and tastes okay, it probably is!