The Expanded Food Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) is an unexpected partner in the effort to reduce wasted food. Funded by the USDA, EFNEP “remains at the forefront of nutrition education efforts to reduce nutrition insecurity.” OSU Extension, EFNEP Program Specialist Amy Habig, MPH, RDN, LD, and Dietetic Intern, Caroline Dill, DTR, share tips to reduce food waste.
What does EFNEP do to reduce food waste?
Amy: EFNEP’s goal is to help participants eat healthier with limited resources. Strategies include meal planning, shopping your pantry, and smart shopping. We help participants maximize food dollars and reduce waste.
What can everyone do to save money and reduce food waste?
Caroline: Using everything you buy saves money and reduces waste.
Amy: Get creative! Caroline added wilted spinach to a pasta sauce.
Caroline: Remember to shop in season. This option helps reduce spoilage.
Amy: Exercising good portion control, using smaller plates, and following the MyPlate recommendations are important.
Caroline: At Thanksgiving my brother reminded our family “Only take what you want RIGHT NOW, you can go back for seconds.”
Do you have any tips to safely preserve leftovers?
Amy: Freezing is a good idea; it maintains the integrity and freshness of most foods, slows bacterial growth, and reduces spoilage.
When frozen, some foods experience structural changes. Berries might get mushy, but frozen berries are great in smoothies or bread.
Caroline: Freezing is a safe and easy alternative to canning. Canning takes expertise, bacterial growth is a dangerous by-product if not done properly.
What are the key takeaways everyone should consider?
Amy: Great question, we always recommend the following:
1. Plan your meals and menu based on family size and portion size.
2. Shop your pantry first, don’t buy what you already have.
3. Plan your meals around what you already have.
4. Use coupons, and shop clearance items (these should be used first).
5. Eat off smaller plates.
6. Have plan-overs. Proteins are great in pasta and soups.
7. Leftover vegetables are great in casseroles or soups.
8. Talk to friends about how they have used leftovers!
 (National Institute for Food and Agriculture, n.d.)