Did you know? In Canada, up to 40% of all the food produced ends up thrown away. That’s 1.3 billion tons of food wasted each year. About half of that waste occurs at home, not at the restaurant or the grocery store like we would assume - and for the average Canadian, it can add up to $400 annually!
Food waste bums us out. As a very wise person once said, “Be frugal, eat every penny, food is expensive.”
It’s more than just a waste of money – it’s also a waste of all the resources, time and labour that went into growing, harvesting, processing and transporting that food.
At PRANA, we're hoping we can be part of the solution rather than the problem. So we’ve decided to put together are some of our favorite tips to help reduce food waste..
If you want a lovely daily reminder, make sure you download our Food Waste chart, a gorgeous guide illustrated by our dear collaborator Laucolo of the different ways you can reduce food waste that's so pretty, you'll have to stick it on your fridge!
|Food Waste Chart Download|
1. Stock up on soup!
I save all my kitchen scraps and when I have enough, I make broth! -- Sabrina, PR
Making broth is ridiculously easy, and you don’t even need to have anything in your fridge. All you have to do is save your vegetable scraps: onion skins, potato, carrot and zucchini peels, mushroom stems… anything works! Keep it all in a bag in your freezer and once you’ve got enough, get to making some broth. For each cup of scraps, add one cup of water. Simmer gently in a pot for about an hour, and voilà!
I make batches of soup or broth with all my leftovers and freeze it, or I'll make little puree popsicles with veggies for the pups. -- Nadia, customer relations
Number 1 for me is soup, soup, soup, for veggies, onions and potatoes. -- Karine, Supply chain manager
Soup is an easy (and delicious) way to use up a lot of extra veggies quickly. You’ve got carrots, leeks or asparagus looking sad at the bottom of your fridge? Chop everything up, add an onion and a potato, some broth (see above!), and you’ve got soup! In case of doubt, check out our delicious soup recipes!
|Miso tofu turmeric soup
||Vegan Harira soup
2. I’m on the list
Planning recipes ahead of time really helped me consolidate my grocery shopping so that I can plan similar meals using the same ingredients. -- Erika, IT
I make a list and force myself to stick to it, so I end up talking myself out of (most) impulse purchases and don’t bring home food I won’t eat. -- Gabrielle, digital marketing
Also, shop smaller/more frequently – it’s easier to manage a smaller inventory and you end up eating fresher food. -- Derek, US sales
Something as simple as just planning out a menu for the week will give you an idea of what you’ll need to cook for the week. From that point on, it’s just one more step to a grocery list! Writing down what you need cuts down on the guesswork once you’re at the store, but it also keeps you from buying things you don’t need, and won’t have time to eat. Makes sense, no?
3. Eat what you buy
I'm always prepared to ask for a 'doggy bag' at restaurants. After working as a server for many years, I couldn't believe how many people will leave more than half their meal on their plates, when they could easily take it home. -- Jillian, US sales
The idea that you should eat what you buy seems really obvious, but we all know sometimes we just don't feel like cooking or eating specific things. These foods get relegated to the back of the fridge and before you know it, it's three weeks later and it's definitely too late to eat it now. To counter that, you can organize your fridge and apply the "first in, first out" principle: after you buy new groceries, move the older products to the front so you can see them, and therefore eat them, first.
Another great way to use up what you have is to embrace your leftovers. It includes taking home the rest of the meal you haven't been able to finish at the restaurant and having it some other time in the next few days. If you don't like eating leftovers, find fun and creative ways to repurpose them into new meals with little effort, like turning leftover mashed potatoes into hash brown patties or using up extra tofu or tempeh in salads and sandwiches.
4. Ready or not
My best tip: freezing extra prepared meals. -- Francis, VP Sales
I wash and cut my vegetables as soon as I’m back from groceries, and pack them in portions to-go. It encourages me to eat what’s in the fridge because it’s quick and easy! -- Catherine, Sales analyst
As soon as I've got things starting to look sad in the fridge, I cook them up and freeze them - it's the most efficient thing for me! -- Gaëlle, R&D manager
When you’re in a rush, planning ahead is essential. Any way to save time is a good way, from batch-prepping to using your freezer on the regular. Soups (see above), once frozen, are a great way to pack your lunch without too much effort, which is a real win-win for everyone!
5. Hurray for smoothies!
When my bananas are ripe, I freeze them and use them in my morning smoothies! -- Tiffanie, S&E manager
The key to using up overripe fruit? Smoothies! Bananas, berries… if you're not going to use them right away, freeze them for later use. When the time comes, toss it all in the blender, add some plant-based milk or juice, a bit of maca for a boost of energy, chia and hemp seeds for protein and fibre, and blitz! Just like that, you’ve got yourself a delicious and portable breakfast! Pro tip: freeze your fruit flat in a bag or on a cookie sheet, then transfer to your preferred container to keep them from freezing up in one big block.
|Apple, carrot & orange smoothie
||Creamy avocado smoothie
||Creamy spinach & banana smoothie|
6. Read up!
A key part in cutting down on food waste is understand food expiration dates. Usually, "best before" dates are guidelines to let you know how long your food will be of an optimal quality - but past that date, it doesn’t necessarily mean the food is no longer good to eat! Trust your senses more than the date on the package.
To make sure your food stays fresh as long as possible, you should learn how and where to keep it (freezer, fridge or countertop), and make sure your fridge is set to the right temperature. Tomatoes, for example, shouldn't be stored in the fridge - they belong on the countertop just like bananas!
Another fun DIY projects and a nice way to eat fresh, local and seasonal foods all year is to try your hand at some alternative preservation techniques like canning, pickling and drying. We’ve got a few lovely canning recipes, but there’s plenty more all over the Internet and in cookbooks!
7. Sharing is caring
I like to use my coffee grounds as plant food! -- Marine, e-commerce manager
A great way to reduce food waste is to share. That can take many forms: bringing extra food to work or outings and sharing with your colleagues and friends, or bringing food you know you won't eat to a food bank so it can feed someone in need.
It also means reusing your scraps in creative ways instead of tossing everything in the garbage: vegetable scraps can be used to make broth (see above!) and coffee grounds can be used as plant food (in small quantities, and make sure you do your research first so it's not detrimental to your green friends). If all else fails and you haven't been able to eat it, freeze it, give it or reuse it, your last resort should be to compost, not trash.
Further reading & extra resources:
- The David Suzuki Foundation's Handy tip sheet to end food waste
- Waste Reduction Week's website
What about you? What are your best tips and tricks to cut down on food waste?