Written by Kelley Keehn
Friday, November 16th, 2018
In Canada, we waste approximately 40% of our food, or $31 billion every year.
When I think of all the precious resources it took to make that food only to have it forgotten and thrown out, it angers and upsets me every time I waste food at home.
When you also think about the 815 million people, or 10.7% of the world that's suffering from chronic undernourishment, it makes throwing out that pint of strawberries and expired cheese even more painful.
Finding Solutions at Home
In my household, our waste had turned into a weekly fight between my husband and me.
You see, he loves a deal, and we both try to eat healthy, which means lots of fresh fruit, veggies and unprocessed meats and dairy. In other words, things that spoil fast. So when cauliflower and blueberries go on sale at our favourite market, he can't help but buy too much of everything.
And because he refuses to clean out the fridge, I'm the one throwing out the expired stuff that got pushed to the back and forgotten.
Lessons from Mom
Perhaps it's because I know a lot of farmers, or because my mom often didn't have enough food for my brothers and I when she was raising us as a single mother, many times going hungry herself to ensure we were fed, but every time I fill the garbage with food I should've eaten, I can't help but think of my mom's struggles.
I can happily report our once regular disagreement has been mostly worked out (we're still not 100% there, but we're close). We've been faithfully following these tips:
- We came up with a seasonal meal plan and menu. We always had recipes in our heads but forgot about them when grocery shopping. It took a while, but we typed out all our favourite meals, listed the ingredients, printed a copy for the car and both have it stored on our phones.
- My husband vows not to buy anything perishable just because it's on sale. If it's not part of that week's meal plan, he must pass it by.
- Because we often shop separately, we don't always know what's in the fridge. Each week we write out a quick list of things that are going to expire in a few days and need to be used, and we paste the list in front of the fridge.
And if All Else Fails...
Our best strategy, when our other attempts have failed, is to make a big slow cooker soup or stew from the ready-to-expire meats and veggies that we just couldn't consume. We'll use the opportunity to share the leftovers with our 89-year-old neighbour and my 80-year-old mom.
It's a very small way to show my mom that I appreciate her lessons growing up and haven't forgotten the many sacrifices she made for her family.