A Good Time To Go “Back to School” on Food Waste
As kids head back-to-school, it’s a good time to remember how you can contribute less food waste and teach your children to do the same. Food waste is the number one component found in America’s landfills. More food than we’d like to admit routinely gets tossed in the trash. In fact, 40 percent of all food produced in the United States is discarded. Twenty percent of the food we buy is never eaten. Let that sink in.
The effects of food waste are astounding – on the economy, it equates to about $218 billion of food lost each year; and on American families, we each toss approximately 300 pounds of food a year, costing a family of four as much $2,200.
As kids head back-to-school use these tips to reduce food waste:
- Plan meals ahead and use a shopping list – it helps to avoid impulse buys and unnecessary quantities, and you purchase only what is needed.
- Eat what you buy – know portion sizes, don’t prepare too much and always eat leftovers.
- Don’t toss food before it spoils – learn about food expiration dates, and “use by” and “best if used by” dates. Check out the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s Date Labels on Packaged Foods for more information.
- Consider purchasing more foods from the frozen and dairy aisles.
Purchasing frozen and refrigerated items is a great way to reduce food waste. For many products you can use just what you need and put the rest back in the fridge or freezer for the next time. There are also numerous frozen and refrigerated products that are perfectly portioned, so no waste.
For frozen foods, the flash freezing technology and eco-friendly packaging keep cool foods fresher longer and provides a much longer shelf life – so again, less waste. With frozen food you are paying for 100 percent edible food!
This Back-to-School Bento Box lunch recipe is made with handful of short-cut ingredients from the freezer and dairy aisles. Bento boxes can be not only tasty and healthy for students, but are also great for the environment as they eliminate the need for disposable packaging like plastic bags and foil.
In an effort to be part of the food waste solution, we partnered with education curriculum specialists Young Minds Inspired (YMI) to develop a No Taste for Food Waste educational program. This program addresses food waste by educating future consumers about the problem. Targeted at middle and high school students in family and consumer/environmental science and health classes, the curriculum materials, which include a teacher’s guide, lesson plans, reproducible student activities and more, have been distributed to more than 65,000 targeted educators across the country. Feel free to share this program with your children’s teacher(s).
How do you try to prevent food waste in your own household? Share with us on social media @EasyHomeMeals.
Sources: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Defense Council, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Worldwatch Institute.