Love Food Hate Waste – When Should You Buy in Bulk?

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Bulk purchases can seem like a sustainable choice. Less packaging and fewer trips to the store can have a positive impact on your ecological footprint. But there can be downsides, such as ingredients going bad before they are used. So, buying in bulk can be a double-edged sword, when your goal is a #nofoodwasted attitude to eating. Here’s four tips to help you decide when bulk buying fits the Love Food Hate Waste approach:

Is It Perishable?
Check out our Fridge Facts for tips to optimize your crisper drawers.

Check out our Fridge Facts to optimize your crisper drawers.

Some of the healthiest food choices are fresh fruits and vegetables. But unless you are feeding an army of vegetarians, bulk purchases of fresh produce are likely to result in spoiled food going to waste. To reduce the risk, buy fruits and vegetables every few days or once a week. Most fresh produce will last in the crisper drawer for about that long. Want to extend the life of your produce? Generally, the less time a food item spends between harvesting and your home prolongs its freshness. Try to buy local and learn the best way to organize the food in your crisper drawers.  Our Love Food Hate Waste Shelf Life Guide can also help you plan your shopping.

Can it be Frozen?
mashed potatoes

Did you know that you can freeze mashed potatoes?

The history of frozen food has an interesting Canadian connection. It was during his time in Labrador (1912 – 15) on field assignment for the U.S. Department of Agriculture that frozen food pioneer Clarence Birdseye discovered fish kept its freshness when flash frozen, during a -40 degree winter. Today, many of us have full size deep freezes in our homes, ideal for stocking with bulk purchases. And you’re not limited to traditional bulk buys such as a side of beef or Birdseye’s iconic frozen fish sticks. Check out the Love Food Hate Waste Freezing Guide to learn about some foods you might not have considered to be suitable for freezing.

How Long Does it Last?

source: Scott Bauer, USDA ARS

When it comes to shelf-life, it’s hard to beat honey. The sweet product of bees has been discovered in Egyptian tombs, thousands of years old and still edible. So feel free to stock up next time it’s on sale! Some other foods with a very long shelf life (especially when kept in a sealed container in a cool, dry place) include salt, sugar, rice, peanut butter, pure vanilla, peanut butter, vinegar, and soy sauce. Just make sure you have room in the cupboard or pantry and a suitable container when needed, to ensure what you buy doesn’t spoil or go stale. Canned goods are another long-lasting option. Here’s a great tip for keeping track and rotating your stock of canned items

Understand ‘Best Before’ Labelling

“No name tomato juice” by Michael Francis McCarthy

Lots of foods come with a ‘best before’ date. But that doesn’t mean the product has gone bad if it’s past the labelled date. “Best before” dates refer to the quality and shelf life of an unopened food product, not safety. In Canada, best before dates are required on foods that will keep fresh for 90 days or less. However, many foods show best before dates even though they aren’t required. Something to keep in mind when your bulk purchases reach their best before date. Get a better understanding on our Love Food Hate Waste web page: What do ‘best before’ dates on food really mean?

So, buying in bulk isn’t a black and white issue. But armed with tools like our portion plannerweekly menu sets, and suitable storage, bulk purchases can be an economical way to enjoy good food and avoid waste. For more information, including additional menus, recipes, food storage tips, and facts about shelf life and best before dates, visit the Love Food – Hate Waste website: http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.ca/

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