Food waste reduction

Edible food doesn’t belong in your green cart

About 40 percent of the food we throw out is still good to eat. This works out to approximately $112/month! Keeping edible food out of the green cart is good for our pockets and the planet combined.

Did you know that you can eat foods after the best-before date has passed? The food is still safe to eat but may have lost only a fraction of its freshness or flavour.

Where food is wasted in Canada’s food value chain

This problem isn’t just in restaurants and grocery stores. Nearly 14 percent of all food waste occurs in our homes.

Where food is wasted Percent
Households 14 percent
Processing 34 percent
Retail stores 4 percent
Production 24 percent
Hotels, restaurants and institutions 9 percent
Distribution 2 percent
Manufacturing 13 percent

Source: The Avoidable Crisis of Food Waste: The Roadmap, Value Chain International, 2019

What can we do to reduce food waste?

  1. Keep it fresh
  2. Use it up
  3. Plan it out

Keep it fresh

  • Eat older and more perishable food items first. Tip: create an ‘EAT ME FIRST’ shelf in your fridge.
  • Set fridge to a maximum of 4 degrees Celcius and freezer to -18 degrees Celcius
  • Take produce out of plastic bags. Airtight wrappings speed up their decay.
  • Don’t wash produce until you’re ready to eat it. Moisture speeds up decomposition.
  • In your fridge crisper:
    • Keep fruits in one drawer and vegetables in the other.
    • Use the adjustable levers on crisper drawers to change humidity levels – set the vegetable drawer to high humidity (closed) and the fruit drawer to low humidity (open).
  • In your freezer:
      • Divide large packages into smaller portions and freeze.
      • Freeze extra food such as bread, meat and leftovers.
      • Freeze food up to 24 hours before its best before date.
      • Search online for storage tips to avoid freezer burn.

Use it up

  • Reuse your food leftovers. Download a copy of the Guelph Family Health Study cookbook, aimed at cutting food waste.
  • Search online for ways to use up food in your fridge. Use extra vegetables from stir-fry for soups, or leftover fruits from desserts for smoothies.
  • Serve kids smaller portions to start. You can always offer seconds.
  • Involve kids in the kitchen. They are more likely to eat what you serve.
  • The best before date tells you when an unopened product might start to lose its flavour, texture and nutritional value – not that it’s unsafe to eat.

Plan it out

    • Before shopping, take stock of what you already have. Build meals around these ingredients to use up soon-to-spoil foods.
    • Make a meal plan and shopping list. A little effort up front will save you time and money later on. New to meal planning? Check out these online apps:
    • Check your calendar. Buy less food on weeks you are going to parties or restaurants.
    • Plan to serve leftovers by making additional portions.
    • Don’t shop hungry. You are more likely to buy foods on impulse rather than need.
    • Only buy ‘family size’ packages or ‘buy one, get one free’ items if you’re sure you’ll eat all the food.

Content courtesy of EcoWatch, Metro Vancouver and Peel Region.