The sad reality is that nearly half of all food produced ends up wasted in a landfill. Knowing the sheer quantity of perfectly edible food that gets thrown away is nauseating, especially when considering how many people go hungry all around the globe. When food is thrown away, not only is sustenance wasted, but so is the land, water, fuel, and labor used to produce it. To help reduce your contribution to our worldwide issue of food waste, we’ve put together some useful food waste solutions while traveling.
Shop Smart, Waste Less
Don’t overbuy an item just because it seems like a good deal. However cost-effective it may be to buy in bulk or stock up, it won’t be saving you anything if that food you buy ends up in the trash can. Buy what you know you will use and don’t get distracted with sales designed to make you buy more than what you need. Keeping a food waste journal to document what you throw out and why can help you keep track of what is wasted so you can be a more savvy shopper who is aware of personal consumption habits and waste tendencies when making your purchasing decisions.
We’ve all seen the use-by dates and best-before labels on items lining the grocery store aisles, and each person regards these dates with a different level of authority. The reality of these dates, however, is that they intend to indicate peak freshness and in no way do they dictate when the food must be disposed of. The dates are not enforced by law and they have nothing to do with safety standards. The dates are decided by food manufacturers who have something to gain by making you believe you need to replace an expired item, when in fact you probably don’t have to quite yet.
Believe it or not, how you pack items into your RV’s refrigerator could have an effect on how much food you waste. The trick is to keep your most perishable items at eye level so you don’t forget about them and weeks later find their old, moldy remains tucked away in the back. Put condiments and other items with a decent shelf life toward the bottom. By reserving the prime real estate in your refrigerator for items that go bad quicker, you will be more likely to consume them before you have to get rid of them.
Though you travel with your own kitchen while RVing, it might not always keep you from occasionally enjoying a restaurant or two over the course of your travels. Restaurants, especially in the Midwest, are known for their hefty portions and plate-dwarfing serving sizes. Knowing the tendencies of restaurants to serve such large quantities, order your food accordingly. If you’re able, take what you don’t eat to-go and store it in your fridge (at eye level) until your next meal. Splitting entrees with others can be another effective way of limiting the food you buy that goes to waste.
There are many smart ways you can put seemingly unusable food to good use! Learn how to make substitutes for ingredients you might be low on and repurpose leftovers by incorporating them into other meals. Stews can be a great way to concoct a hearty meal using a variety of perishables. Have stale bread? Repurpose them into croutons! Have old bananas? Use them in breads, smoothies, or even cakes. Most of that food that you think needs to go in the garbage can actually be made into tasty and completely safe-to-consume foods.
Extending Shelf Life
There are also a number of ways you can extend the shelf life of your food. Canning, pickling, and vacuum packing are just a few. Drying foods are a great way to preserve them longer. Dried food has an extended shelf life, and dried fruits, veggies, and meats can all make great snacks for travel. Additionally, freezing food is another effective way to slow down the decomposition process, and you can freeze more than you think. Just don’t forget about the foods you freeze and make sure you give them a sufficient amount of time to defrost before turning them into mouthwatering meals.
Even with all of these food waste solutions, you’ll probably still find it challenging to stop all food from going to waste. Luckily, there is even a way to put your unused food scraps to good use. Composting essentially turns your waste into good, fertile dirt! Vermicomposting is more conducive to small spaces, making it great for RVing. Even if parts of foods like veggies and cheese have bad spots, just cut off the unsightly parts so you can still use what is good and be sure to toss the bad scraps in your composting box! You can later use the quality soil you’ve cultivated in your garden once you get back home from your trip.
Far too many people waste food without giving it a second thought. Do your part to protect our environment and conserve our resources by implementing some of these food waste solutions while traveling! For more tips and tricks on conservation, read our article on water preservation! Do you have any other ways to avoid wasting food while traveling? Let us know in the comments!