Simple strategies can be implemented to reduce the amount of food waste you generate. These strategies are universal whether you're a business with a cafeteria, a school, a food producer or any other type of entity. Small steps can produce drastic results in saving this resource.
Inventory both fridge and freezer on a regular basis. Practice "first-in, first-out" by moving older foods to the front of the fridge and freezer.
Order more frequently. When ordering food products. ordering more frequently equals less food at one time, which is easier to manage and use before food perishes.
Reuse food by repurposing. For example, turn stale bread into croutons or hamburgers into chili.
Monitor waste. Watch what is being thrown away most frequently and track the amount and reason.
Know optimal storage conditions and storage life of fresh produce and meats. For example, the optimal storage temperature for ripe avocados is 38-45°F but watermelon is 55-70°F.
Donate what you don't use. Your local food bank can get you in touch with a food pantry or shelter that can use your excess food to feed those in your community.
Understand expiration dates. Many times these dates have nothing to do with food safety but are a reflection of peak quality. If stored properly, many foods can be used several days past the "use-by" date.
Compost. For inedible foods, consider composting to create a valuable resource that can be used to strengthen gardens and yards.
These tips were developed as part of a fact sheet for IWRC's current grant-funded food waste project, the Rural Iowa Food Waste Reduction Project. Click here to learn more.
This material is based upon work supported under a grant by the Rural Utilities Service, United Slates Department of Agriculture. Any opinions, finding, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in the material are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Rural Utilities Service.
The Iowa Waste Reduction Center and the University of Northern Iowa are equal opportunity providers and employers.