You may have heard it said that one of the largest percentages of our landfills is food waste. And you may have heard that reducing food waste is one of the top ways to decrease CO2 build-up, which is contributing to climate change, which is a total bummer when you want to sit and chill out. Even if you haven’t heard those things, it’s obvious that if one person is throwing away food, someone else is not getting any. And If you’re like me, you care but don’t want to actually do anything. Relax. Read on, click the links for more info and recipes. Join me in reducing food waste by being lazy.
- Stop Cooking So Much: Sure, home cooking is proven to help with physical health for you and your loved ones, plus the psychological benefits of sharing a meal, but it takes time and effort. Stop trying so hard. When you do cook, cook a bunch and then have that for lunch the next day, or for leftover meals for days to come. Heck, make a TON of food and then freeze it in dinner-size portions for less cooking for weeks! Just warm it up. Less food waste. So easy.
- Don’t Shop So Often: Stay home. Eat what you already have. Look in your refrigerator for what needs to be eaten soon. If you don’t have enough in the fridge, check the freezer, reach waaaay back. Eat it. Still not enough? Look in your pantry. Make that weird grain you bought six months ago and those canned…things…that were on sale. Don’t waste the food you already have. So much lazier than walking out your door.
- Be the Uncreative Cook: Use the same recipes each week. This means less time at the grocery store since you already know what you’ll buy, save money by knowing exactly how much you need, and less time making decisions each day. Here’s a tip: Look at what needs to be eaten now, dump in a pan, pour eggs and cheese (or favorite topping) on top and bake at 350 for at least 20 minutes. You’re welcome.
- There’s An App For That: Meal planning apps can help you shop and plan your meals for accurate amounts of food to buy, cutting down on extras that sit around and eventually get thrown away. Having a party? Use ‘Guestimator’ to figure out the perfect amount of chips and dips to buy and prepare, how many deviled eggs, how much salad, coffee, tea, etc. Who wants sixteen boxes of cake pops in their fridge after a party? (You don’t; trust me.)
- Make Easy Decisions: Join a CSA (community supported agriculture)where you pay a farmer at the beginning of the year and then get weekly produce during harvest season. This cuts down on shopping time because you pick up a basket of food pre-selected for you (fresh from the farm!). Fewer decisions to make since that food must be eaten. You already paid for it. Keep an “Eat Me First!” shelf specifically for foods that will spoil quickly so you don’t even have to think about it. If anyone needs a snack, tell your family to, well, eat those first and reduce food waste.
- Stop peeling and prepping so much: Leave the skins on those apples and potatoes and cucumbers and summer squash. What’s the big deal? Bake winter squash and sweet potatoes whole in the oven (prick it with a fork) and then just scoop out the seeds after and then scoop out the part you want to eat. Scooping is fun. Scooping is the lazy way to eat. You don’t even need to reach for a bowl. In fact, most skins of squash and potatoes are fine for eating too. Just sit, scoop, eat, and have fewer food bits to throw away.
- Don’t Throw It Out Yet: Did you know the only mandated ‘past-due’ dates on food is for baby formula? There are NO federal guidelines for those dates on your juice, cheese, can fish, cereal, salad dressing, etc. Those are put there by the industry to help you eat food when it tastes best, and then throw it out, wasting food, and BUY MORE! That’s the plan. Instead of trusting people who only want your money, use your own senses. Rotten eggs are obvious. You can cut off small amounts of mold on hard cheeses or bread. Liquid items may settle or separate – check what is normal instead of throwing it away. Slice off the bad spots on veggies and fruits. If the milk doesn’t smell, don’t shove it under someone else’s nose- it’s fine. (Unless you have a cold, then ask for a second opinion.) Pantry and frozen items can stay around for a loooooong time. Here are some great recipes for using up older food.
- Don’t buy whole foods: If you know you’ll never get around to chopping them for a meal, don’t buy them. If your whole foods end up in the garbage most of the time, buy pre-chopped food. Cut melon is a quick snack. Frozen chopped onions and peppers can be put directly into your pan to cook. This is true for meat and cheese as well. If you can’t be bothered to shape your own burgers, just buy them pre-made. Throwing away moldy cheese because no one likes grating it? Buy the grated kind. Don’t be embarrassed; accept your lazy, beautiful ass just as it is.
- Be honest: Honesty will save you time and energy, and reduce food waste. Keep track of how much you actually eat at home. It’s better to eat out and have a bare refrigerator than eating out with a full one that you have to toss the next week (the food, not the refrigerator.)
- Skip the Appetizer and Tray: If you never take a doggie-bag home, or take one and toss it in the trash two weeks later, don’t order so much. If you’re starving, go to a place that serves some bread or chips and salsa before your meal to tie you over. Or keep a snack in your bag and eat it on the way. Then you will order a more reasonable amount of food. Similarly, if you can barely finish an entree, order the appetizer and a side instead. Or share a meal with a dining partner. This will cut down on restaurant waste. Order what you will eat. Similarly, dumping food at buffets and cafeterias is rampant. Skip the tray and hold your food (the bowl, not the actual rice and beans) in your hands. Buy only what you can hold. If you eat all that and are still hungry, go back for seconds. It rarely happens*.
- Let Someone Else Compost: Composting is a way to recycle food waste, but let’s still include it here. It keeps the food out of landfills. If you live in a rural area, chances are there is a farm that will take your compost. If you live in a suburban area, I guarantee you have a nerdy green neighbor** that composts. However, if your neighbor doesn’t have enough space for two households of waste, or you live in an urban landscape, you still have a great option. There are places that will take your compost and even places that pick up your compost at your door! This means you can feel superior at the next party mentioning casually about how composting is so important for the environment while doing absolutely no work yourself. Sweet.
- Slow Down: Enjoy your meal. Lounge. Chew with pleasure. Eating slower is shown to reduce consumption, which means you’ll have leftovers, which means you’ll learn to cook less, shop less, and have less food waste. Which will save the world, one lazy forkful at a time.
*Does not count hungry teenagers.
**Like my husband
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