Insider’s Viewpoint: Reduce Food Waste and Improve Your Health
August 9, 2016
It’s a bit depressing to learn how much food is wasted each year, much of it fresh produce, a key element in a healthy diet. While we know that the extended shelf life of canned, dried, frozen, and 100% juice products is a huge benefit, how do we extend the life of our fresh produce? And what should we do when it’s nearing its useful life?
With a little planning, food waste can be reduced dramatically, and you may find new ways to incorporate fruits and veggies into new dishes to reach those daily intake goals. Below are some simple tips that can get you started down the path of less waste, more wellness.
4 Ways to Reduce Food Waste
Store. Start out with correct storage. Each fruit and veggie has a “best” method of storage that impacts both shelf life and flavor. Not to mention, some don’t play well with others due to the tendency of some fruits to release ethylene gas – a ripening agent. Check out this fruit and vegetable storage guide to make sure you’re putting produce in the right place.
Freeze. If you have veggies that won’t get used before they go bad, make your own frozen veggies. Simply cut, blanch (dip into boiling water, then quickly into ice water), and place into airtight containers in the freezer.
Repurpose. When produce is nearing the end of its useful life, look for other ways to use it. Fruits can be puréed and used in smoothies or even sauces. For example, a berry-based sauce with grilled salmon is a great nutrition win-win! Veggies can be roasted and used in wraps and pastas, blended into hummus, and tossed into salads.
Plan. To avoid food waste all together, buy only what you plan to eat and make it easy to do so. This means doing some level of meal planning so you have a strategy for using the produce, and then portioning it out to make it simple in the midst of busy schedules. Pre-wash, pre-dice, and portion produce into containers when appropriate. You’ll thank yourself later!
Allison Kuhn, MS, RDN, LD
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
The Little Clinic (inside select Kroger locations)