In no way is food waste management and prevention a new concept, however it continues to be a global issue.
Daily efforts to combat it are being made around the world by governments, organizations, businesses, and individuals. These efforts aim to reduce food waste at various stages of the food supply chain, from production and distribution to consumption and disposal.
Although managing food waste year-round is essential, during the holidays, due to larger meals and gatherings, more than 305 million pounds of food is wasted every single year.
Raising awareness about food waste is necessary because it can lead to behavioral changes at the individual, community, and societal level. These changes can ultimately lead to reducing food waste and its associated negative impacts globally.
By this point, I hope you’re asking what you can do to combat food waste?
Worry no longer, below are some tips to help you manage food waste for the holidays and beyond. The hope is that by following these suggestions, you can significantly reduce your food waste, all the while making your celebrations more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
The key is remembering that even small efforts can have a big impact when it comes to reducing food waste.
Plan your meals
Make a detailed meal plan and create a shopping list to avoid buying excess food.
Consider the number of guests and their preferences when planning portions.
Use leftovers creatively
Repurpose leftovers into new meals or snacks. Share extra food with guests or send them home with leftovers.
Get creative with leftovers by turning them into soups, casseroles, sandwiches, or salads.
Practice proper storage
Store perishable foods in airtight containers or freezer bags to extend their shelf life.
Label and date leftovers to keep track of when they should be consumed.
Set up a composting system for food scraps like fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds, and eggshells.
If your area offers food waste recycling, participate in the program.
Donate excess food
If you have unopened, non-perishable food items you won’t use, consider donating them to a local food bank or shelter.
Check if there are organizations in your area that accept prepared food donations.
Serve smaller portions to avoid overloading plates.
Encourage guests to take only what they can eat and let them know there will be seconds if needed.
If you have more leftovers than you can consume in the next few days, freeze them for later use.
Be sure to label frozen items with the date and contents.
Monitor expiration dates
Check the expiration dates of foods before purchasing and be mindful of items that may expire soon.
Reduce food packaging waste
Choose products with minimal packaging or buy in bulk to reduce waste.
Recycle or properly dispose of packaging materials.
Educate your guests
Encourage your guests to be mindful of food waste and take only what they can eat.
Share information about your food waste reduction efforts to inspire others.
Aliyah Young is a Family and Consumer Sciences Agent with UF/IFAS Extension Leon County, an Equal Opportunity Institution. For gardening questions, email the extension office at AskAMasterGardener@ifas.ufl.edu.