Let’s talk about a pretty shocking statistic: Did you know that 35 percent of food produced in the U.S. is thrown away (that’s 130 billion pounds per year, BTW), yet 42 million Americans struggle with hunger? Whoa.
Now, let’s talk about a pretty awesome statistic: In 2020 alone, Kroger directed more than $213 million in food and funds to help organizations, innovators and changemakers across the country address these issues through its Zero Hunger | Zero Waste environmental and social impact plan. In fact, they’ve set the lofty goal to help end hunger in communities and eliminate waste across the company by 2025. Again, whoa.
Curious how you can help? So were we, so we reached out to Kroger for some tips. Turns out, they have a nifty recycling program with TerraCycle® and a fancy little robot called Chefbot that helps you create recipes based on what’s in your fridge. They also offered up some pretty smart fridge organization tips that you can put into effect ASAP. See below for five ways you can reduce food waste just by rejiggering what’s already in your kitchen.
1. Don’t: Stack Food on the Top of Your Fridge
This is a surefire way to encourage food to spoil quickly because of heat that radiates from the fridge itself. Take those loaves of bread and that package of sweet potatoes and move them into the pantry instead.
2. Don’t: Put Your Products Just Anywhere
There’s a science to where you place the items in your fridge and freezer. Sure, you may set your fridge to 40 degrees, but did you know that the temperature doesn’t always distribute evenly? To ensure your items stay cool properly, store ready-to-eat foods at the top of the fridge (heat tends to rise), leftovers in the middle and milk towards the bottom (the coolest spot). In the freezer, seafood goes on top, beef and pork in the middle and poultry on the bottom. Then use the door (which happens to be the warmest place in your refrigerator) for condiments like ketchup, mustard and your favorite green goddess dressing.
3. Don’t: Overstuff Your Fridge
Too many items keep the cool air from circulating and, in turn, cause your food to go bad much faster.
4. Do: Rotate Your Produce
Genius tip: Keep the freshest produce in one crisper drawer and older produce in the other so you always know what to eat first.
5. Do: Practice Portion Control
Six chicken breasts in one package for a party of one? Simply remove and store individually versus placing the entire package in the freezer. In general, it helps to freeze items in smaller portions so you only thaw what you can eat.