Almost 1/3 of the food produced in the world goes to waste every year. The environmental and economical negative effects of this waste is enormous. Unfortunately, these effects can be amplified in times that unite us all. Taking action through small steps, however, is immensely beneficial in reversing the trend. One of these small steps to prevent waste is buying food responsibly.
In this episode of the Let’s Stay At Home series with Massimo Bottura, we answer this question along with practical tips and tricks to help you stock the kitchen and pantry responsibly.
We hope that these tips will help you make your groceries last longer, giving you fewer reasons to go out.
Now, let’s have a look at the third theme in our series: Buying Food Responsibly
First Step: Assess the fridge and pantry, “What’ve we got?”
Assessing what’s already at home can be quite helpful. First, make a list of everything you’ve already got. This will not only help with making sure you only buy what you need but also give you a chance to see what you can make with what you already have at home.
Planning what meal and which leftover is going to be used helps with making better use of bought food and estimating how long the food is going to last. Our next step is creating a meal plan to assess what needs to be purchased.
Second Step: Meal Planning, “What’s on the menu?”
Meal planning can seem like an “extra” move. Still, it is a fundamental necessity for making the most of bought groceries and avoiding waste when purchasing anew.
Before diving into what you’ll be cooking for the next 14 days, take a look at your leftovers or things you already have at hand. Prioritize items with less shelf life left in your cooking and try to finish them first. If you need to pre-cook for scheduling reasons or kids, make sure you freeze your cooked meals, so they keep their flavor and nutrients longer.
For a more straightforward menu creation process, try to use the leftovers from the day before the next day.
Try batch cooking to save time on making similar dishes that take a long time, such as chickpeas, beans, or any legume. You can portion freeze them for later and serve it on different days.
Third Step: Creating a shopping list, “Write it down on the list.”
Now that you know what you have and what you’d like to cook for the next week, it is time to add the missing items and ingredients to the list. The list will save you time, money, and help you avoid waste while keeping your peace of mind. If it’s on the list, you get it, and if it’s not, you skip it until it goes on the meal plan. As strict as it sounds, this will help stop any impulse purchase temptations and buy only what you need. Although a simple pen and paper would do, you can use an app to track and share your list if you’d prefer a paper-free solution.
Fourth Step: Grocery shopping, “Shopping in the times of quarantine, it’s on the list.”
Try to pick earlier or later hours to avoid crowds. Try to take a reusable shopping bag or net to avoid having to use plastic bags. Don’t forget to wear your mask and wet wipes or hand sanitizer with you so you can easily clean your hands before going in and after coming out. Wipe the cart or trolley you’re using as it is one of the most touched places in the store.
Stick to your list, don’t be tempted by sales or campaigns for fresh bulk purchases. Instead of buying prepackaged produce or goods, try to buy according to the needs of your meal plan so that you don’t get more than you need but always have enough in the fridge.
Don’t cave into panic shopping and try to stock up for the next ten years. There’s plenty of food to go around if one knows how not to waste it. Plus by buying only what you need for the next week, you give time for suppliers to replenish the shelves and give everyone a chance to cover their necessities as well. If you’d like to help avoid waste, stores usually put items that are approaching their best by, and expiration dates on sale. If there’s such an item on your list that’s up on your meal plan, go for it. It will help you to avoid waste.
To minimize contact, try to rely on contactless or mobile payment options. If you’re going to use gloves, make sure to toss them out properly before touching your car or your bag.
Fifth Step: Storage, “So Fresh, So Clean”
Now that we’ve bought everything that’s needed making sure nothing goes to waste requires attention to how we store these items. Each food has its storage conditions and tricks that extend its shelf life if not extend its flavor. You can discover the best ways to keep food and more tips from Massimo Bottura in our Keeping Food Fresher for Longer article.
Massimo Bottura says, “Lots is never the right word. Buy the right amount of food you like. Because that is the most important thing.” As we shop, being considerate of others doesn’t mean we have to forgo of flavor. It just means we need to be precise about what we want to eat and how much we need to make it. Through these times at home, we collected on our favorite ways on how to use up everything bought. You can catch up on it right here in our Using Every Bit of Food article to get some inspiration on how to use up your groceries.
Now more than ever, a better future starts at home.
For more inspiration, read our articles or try our recipes. Want to do more? Support your action by giving back to our community partner Food for Soul.