Nine Food Waste Resolutions For 2024


Nine Food Waste Resolutions For 2024

January 11, 2024

2024 brings us one year closer to national and international goals to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030. According to our estimates at the end of last year, our progress in reaching that goal is slow. Americans wasted nearly 312 million pounds of food last Thanksgiving alone, and food waste from consumer-facing sectors reached 349 pounds per person in 2022. While the problem of food waste is one that affects all sectors in the food supply chain, we know that consumers are the biggest contributors. Luckily, we’ve got some solutions for consumers that are easy to implement and can make a big impact.

In the spirit of the new year, we’re calling these nine strategies to reduce food waste our “Food Waste Resolutions.” In no particular order, here are some resolutions you can add to your list for 2024:

Plan Ahead

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” This common saying perfectly encapsulates the food waste consequences that behaviors like overpurchasing and overcooking can lead to. We won’t always get it right, especially when first starting out, but proper planning can utilize ingredients and save you money, all while reducing food waste. Our advice to stick to this resolution is to plan your meals several days or weeks in advance, including take out and meals at restaurants. With a plan like this, you’ll purchase only what you need, putting those wilted vegetables to good use.

Store Your Food Properly

Proper food storage plays an essential role in keeping your food fresh and making it last longer. The trick is knowing which foods require which storage strategies. Figuring out what foods can stay on the counter, should go in the fridge, and are best preserved by the freezer is the best way to start this resolution. And if you’re ever unsure about how to properly store a food item, a quick online search can help you stay on track.

Use Your Freezer

Freezing is such an effective way to store food that it gets its own resolution. Freezing food is like pausing its shelf life, extending your ability to eat the food that you buy and work hard to prepare. While it’s not a solution for all foods, it is a solution for most of them – cooked and uncooked. This resolution will also come in handy on those days you don’t feel like cooking – just reheat what you already cooked.

Learn The Labels

If you think that understanding date labels is confusing, you are not alone. With no uniform language across the food industry – “best if used by,” “sell by,” and “expires on” are all fair game across products – it’s hard to know exactly what they mean for the longevity and safety of the food that you buy. While some advocates are working toward standardizing these important indicators, we encourage you to use your best judgment in this resolution. Consider what the date label says, but also trust your own senses. If the item looks, smells, and tastes good, it’s likely you can eat it without fear.

Eat Down

This resolution prioritizes getting creative with the leftovers that are piling up in your fridge. While you plan ahead, remember to incorporate your excess food. If all of the leftovers aren’t enough to be a full meal by themselves, find ways to combine and conquer. Think about making a new kind of soup or stir fry, and maybe even plan a day each week where you prioritize reducing waste by getting creative in the kitchen.

Those five resolutions are perfect for anyone looking to make a difference to reduce food waste. Sticking to just one of them can have a serious impact. If you find yourself liking those small changes and want to do even more, we’ve got four more resolutions that you can use to make an impact with your purchasing power.

Buy Upcycled Products

Upcycling is a food waste solution that you can participate in by prioritizing it on your grocery list. As the food industry becomes more conscious about food waste, upcycling programs grow. Upcycled products use ingredients from other products in manufacturing plants and grocery stores. For example, rotisserie chicken can be upcycled into pulled chicken in the prepared food section. Baked bread can transform into croutons for your salad. In the new year, keep an eye out for upcycled products with an Upcycled Certified® seal on the packaging.

Use Markdown Alert Applications

In an effort to make use of their own excess food, retailers and restaurants have started to use apps that alert consumers about discounted prices. These apps – like Too Good To Go and Flashfood – are cost effective for both buyer and seller and reduce the chance that food will go to waste. Make it one of your resolutions to download an app like this that’s available in your area.

Buy Imperfect

By now we know that food with bumps and bruises is still delicious, but retailers continue to prioritize selling food that is aesthetically pleasing. While this ensures that flawless food is purchased, it can also ensure that less visually pleasing food is wasted. Luckily, with companies like Misfits Market and Imperfect Foods, this resolution has gotten a little easier to keep in the last several years. Still, if you’re just going to your local supermarket, chances are you’ll be able to buy ugly on your own, reducing the chance that good food will go to waste.

Try Meal Kits

Our last resolution is to invest in a meal kit service. Meal kits are one of the most effective food waste solutions because they allow you to make only what you need. Because most meal kit services have a vast range of menu options, they’re also a great way to expand your tastes while reducing waste.

2024 is sure to be the one of the most important for food loss and waste reduction yet. With mounting pressure to halt climate change and growing interest to make our food system more equitable, now is the time to change your habits and reduce your own contribution to food waste. These resolutions could be just the start of your food waste journey. And if you’re ever curious about even more solutions to food waste, you can always check out our Solutions Database in our Insights Engine.

ReFED is a national nonprofit working to end food loss and waste across the food system by advancing data-driven solutions to the problem. ReFED leverages data and insights to highlight supply chain inefficiencies and economic opportunities; mobilizes and connects people to take targeted action; and catalyzes capital to spur innovation and scale high-impact initiatives. ReFED’s goal is a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive food system that optimizes environmental resources, minimizes climate impacts, and makes the best use of the food we grow.

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