FACT: One-third of all food produced globally goes to waste. (ref)
FACT: The world's almost one billion hungry could be fed on less than a quarter of the food wasted in the US, UK and Europe. (ref)
FACT: Twenty-five percent of the world's fresh water supply is used to grow food that is never eaten. (ref)
FACT: Meal prep is one way to reduce household food waste and has other benefits as well.
When you work in the industry of food, you want it to be successful. You want people to buy and appreciate your product, and eat every savory bite with so much enthusiasm, nothing is left on the plate.
Turns out, enjoying every morsel is not just good for business, it's good for the environment. That's because only one-third of the world's produced food is never actually consumed. And, while we believe our savory beef burgers rarely go to waste, we do believe cutting back on food waste as a society as a whole is more than simply buying delicious food you want to eat; it's about making decisions in-store that will cut back on the number of products and groceries that will never be eaten.
We can't change the impact of food waste overnight, but what we can do is offer perspective on how and why meal prep has become more popular among homes in US. As avid food prep and meal planning veterans ourselves, we believe this small step in combating food waste, if done by more people every year, could potentially make a big difference in how we buy, eat, consume and toss food. It doesn't take hours of preparation or miles of recipes to be successful. Even a list of five meals for the week written on the back of an envelop on your lunch break can ignite a change in buying habits that produces all of these food waste prevention benefits.
Environmental Benefits of Meal Planning on Preventing Food Waste
Meal prep utilizes in-season vegetables which is easier on the environment.
Seasoned meal prep-ers often utilize what's on sale and what's in-season to build their menus. Not only is this good for the environment, but also encourages consumers to purchase food that is currently in excess and available locally, reducing the amount of out-of-season, hard to get, and hard to grow fresh foods purchased.
Foods purchased out-of-season often come from farther away and utilize more environmental resources (water and natural resources used to produce the food out of season) to grow those items when they aren't suppose to grow. Not only is this concept of buying in-season a bonus for the environment, ultimately it saves the consumer money too.
Meal prep takes freshness, freezing, and product expiration into account so less food is thrown out due to expired or rotten, uneaten food.
The biggest negative to buying fresh foods is that they expire if not consumed quickly. This is a big obstacle for meal preparation. But seasoned meal planners think about when and how foods will be recooked when creating their menu, opting for heartier vegetables, meat-case fresh meats that can be frozen, and meals that taste great re-heated. Because every grocery item has a purpose and the freezing and/or reheating of the dish is thought out ahead of time so it doesn't spoil, there are very little extras that are thrown out due to spoiling.
In addition, meals that are planned out or prepared ahead of time are more likely to get eaten because the hassle of deciding what to eat every night is diminished. People are more likely to eat at home instead of going out, and more likely to eat what was planned if the decision was previously made.
Meal prep cuts down on buying excess food by buying only what you need.
If an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, then a minute of meal planning is worth at pound of food waste. Taking just a few moments to consider what meals your family would like to eat for the week and sticking to that list will dramatically reduce the items in your cart. That's because that single onion you bought can be used both on your burgers and in your meatloaf, or those buns can be used for sloppy Joe's one night and bread with your spaghetti the next.
By pre-planning your meals, you can limit the number and amount of ingredients you buy by utilizing like ingredients in multiple dishes and picking dishes that have similar ingredients. Buying only what you need because you've thought ahead saves money and waste, not to mention time, because there are no extra runs to the store after work and no headache trying to figure out what to cook for dinner.
Ordering online in combination with meal prep further cuts down on buying unwanted or unnecessary food.
One way to double-up on preventing food waste is to utilize a meal planning or meal prep method, and order your food for the week online. This forces you to stick to a list and ONLY buy what you need. You will be surprised to find how often you buy extras you don't need, just because you see it in-store.
Meal prep saves money and prevents waste by buying in bulk.
When you pre-plan your weekly menu, you can often utilize buying in bulk. For example, the meat you buy can be used for multiple recipes, or you can buy an entire bag of lemons at a reduced cost, or perhaps buy a whole chicken and use the breasts in one dish and the legs in another.
Meal planning is a holistic approach to cooking and eating, taking into account how you might be able to use every ingredient in more than one way. When we think about only one meal at a time, we don't think about the waste involved in what we don't use. Meal prep offers a bigger picture that allows us to say, "Oh yeah! Instead of bacon in that soup, I can use the leftover pork from the pork chops!"
Why, you may ask, would a business in the food industry encourage people to buy less food?
Well, what we are actually encouraging is people to think more wisely about their purchases and purchase only what they really want--and will--consume.
Making a meal list for the week to include a four-pack of our fresh, ready-made Kobe-Crafted burgers and committing to eating and enjoying all four of them is so much better for the environment and for your pocket book than buying two pounds of beef on sale that you never use, and expires before you found a purpose for it. When you buy less and plan ahead, you can wisely pick fresh, delicious and quality food products you will actually eat. Buy less, eat what like, and enjoy more.
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