Refrigerator full of food


7 Ways to Minimize Food Waste

Aug 4, 2017

Today is a “Fridge Pasta” day. Fridge Pasta is the legendary Khan household meal made of whatever is leftover in the fridge, doused in pasta sauce. Both my husband and I come from South Asian families where nothing goes to waste, so raised with that mindset, we have mastered the utilization of leftover groceries and run our pantry like a well-oiled machine.

Food wastage in Canada accounts for $31 billion annually, and research indicates that some 47% of it is created on a consumer level. So what can you do on an individual level to minimize food wastage and save your hard-earned dollars?

Here are some suggestions for your consideration:

1. Size does matter

Our previous home came with a very large fridge and we discovered that the back of the fridge was the no-man’s land where perishables went to die. We would lose track of foods we had purchased and they would inevitably go bad before we could consume them. So unless you have a large family or excellent fridge organizational skills, buy a smaller fridge.

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2. Pantry prioritization

Similar to the fridge, if the pantry is well stocked but disorganized, chances are that you will purchase duplicate items or keep expired items stocked. Once a month, show some love to your pantry and cook with existing items, making a grocery list accordingly.

3. Breads

If you have loaves going bad, let them sit outside and dry out completely. Then cut them up in small pieces, grind and add dried herbs if desired and voila! You’ve got ready-to-go seasoned breadcrumbs!

4. Dairy

Throw unopened, unexpired bags of milk in the freezer and they can last a while. When you need to use them again, thaw in the fridge and shake up the bag to mix the fat back into the milk.

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5. Fruits

Dying fruits make for great desserts and smoothies. Use sad bananas in banana breads that’ll make you happy. Wash and freeze berries to use in smoothies later. Less than perfect berries, peaches and apples also work well in crumbles or pies as they get cooked in the process. Ditto for jams and preserves.

6. Vegetables

My favourite way of minimizing wastage of vegetables is to save scraps in a bag in the freezer. Once I’ve got a good quantity, I cook them in salted water for half hour, turning them into vegetable stock which I freeze in small batches for use in recipes later. Leftover tomatoes can make a simple pasta sauce that can be used right away or frozen for a quick weeknight meal later. Cook onions and tomatoes together with some spices to create a base for curries, which you can freeze in small portions to quickly make curries on weeknights. Got too much garlic or ginger? Cut it up and grind together to form ginger-garlic paste that lasts in the fridge for up to two months and can be used in various different Asian and middle-eastern recipes.

7. Share the love

I had a neighbour in Ottawa who, like me, visited Toronto regularly. When she was heading out of town, she would give me her leftover perishables instead of tossing them out, and I would do the same for her. If you buy in bulk, or if you’ve got too much left of something, share it with your neighbours, those in need, or better yet, cook it up and invite some friends over.

Food production uses up resources and energy and its wastage costs us on a global and personal level, so prudence in buying, preparing and consuming food benefits us all.

Article Author Yumna Siddiqui-Khan
Yumna Siddiqui-Khan

Read more from Yumna here.

Yumna Siddiqui-Khan is an accountant by day, and writer and amateur photographer by night. A Toronto native, she now resides in Ottawa with her spouse and their 3-year-old spawn. Her photography, musings on life and the lessons learned through parenting can be found at the Institution of Parenthood.

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