Wellness Club — Avoiding Food Waste

Wellness Club — Avoiding Food Waste
Abingdon, VA. - Sunday, Nov 1, 2020.

Written by: Elizabeth Hall, MS, RDN, LDN, Food City Registered Dietitian


This time of year, you may find yourself with excess food that you don’t know what to do with. Forty percent of food in America gets thrown away annually, often due to cooking too much or not storing food properly. It’s important throughout the holiday season, and all year long, to live more sustainably, limit food waste, and if you have excess food, to give to those in need.

The first step to avoiding food waste is to make sure to plan your meals properly. Check your refrigerator, freezer, or pantry first to see what you have on hand and then look for recipes that utilize those ingredients. When planning meals for the week, choose recipes in which there are overlapping ingredients or repurpose foods in different ways. For example, if you are cooking turkey or chicken, you could eat it as the main course one night, then the next day, use it to top a salad or fill a sandwich, then add it to a soup the following day. Remember, a good rule of thumb is that leftovers are best eaten within 3 to 4 days after cooking if you are storing them in the refrigerator.

It is also important to take proper portion sizes into account when planning how much food to buy or prepare. For example, the recommended portion size for proteins is 3 to 4 ounces. For bone-in meats such as turkey or ham, you can estimate around 1 pound per person. Simply multiply this factor by the number of people you are cooking for to get the amount that you should buy at the store.

Lastly, make sure to keep your food fresh by storing it properly. Use the “first in, first out” or FIFO method by putting groceries you just bought behind older groceries in your refrigerator or pantry so that you eat the previously purchased food first before the newly purchased food. This ensures that older items don’t expire. Utilizing your freezer can be a great way to store items longer since food stored in the freezer typically lasts 3 to 4 months.