Hoarding toilet paper is just so last month. Now – it’s flour. And good luck if you can get your hands on any yeast as it appears everyone’s turned into master bread makers because, well, bread is being hoarded, too. Of course let’s not forget visions of empty grocery shelves that were once full of canned legumes and fruit. With a record number of Canadians staying in and cooking at home it appears nothing is safe from those panicking during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that includes filling every nook and cranny of their homes, lest we all run out and starve.

Which makes this lesson in food hoarding all the more ironic, when you factor in that Canadian households are wasting over five billion pounds of food every year. According to Value Chain Management International (VCMI), this is the equivalent weight of 20 CN Towers! Per Statistics Canada, our country has just over 14,072,080 individual households, which means, a single household can generate over 372 pounds of avoidable food waste each year.

In other words, a single Canadian household can generate over seven pounds of avoidable food waste each week.

HelloFresh meal kit company (who recently donated thousands of dollars to local community food banks) recently conducted a survey, gathering insights from over 1,000 Canadians, to better understand food waste in our country.

The survey revealed:
• 62% of Canadians agree food waste is a serious problem for the planet
• 97% of Canadians believe it’s important to reduce food waste
• 58% of Canadians want to reduce edible food waste at home
• 31% of Canadians confess to throwing out excess ingredients they purchased
•40% of Canadians say they find themselves throwing food away due to buying more than they needed.
• 35% of Canadians estimate they waste up to $10 worth of food each week; that’s $520 worth of food wasted each year.

These are sobering figures, especially when compared to the panic food purchases taking place now. And how food banks in general are struggling to find foods to help those in need – numbers that have rapidly accelerated due to the pandemic. On its website, Food Banks Canada says, “providing food to those in need can be difficult at the best of times. With COVID-19, that task just got harder.” Fewer staff and volunteers means less ability to conduct food donation collections, which results in lower stock.

Everyone is doing their best – the recent collaboration of top Canadian musical talents who came together to help raise much-needed funds for food banks across Canada proved to be a resounding success – but we can all do our own part by being mindful of what foods we purchase and how we’re going to use those foods in our everyday lives.

It may be something as simple as putting back on the shelves foods you know deep in your heart you are never going to use. Unless, of course, your goal is to pay it forward and help out those in need by donating extra groceries to food banks.
Here are a few tips to help you curb food waste:

Six Ways to Reduce Your Food Waste

Store Food Correctly
Storing your produce correctly is one of the most important changes you can make to help reduce your food waste. Foods like potatoes, garlic, and onions should be kept a room temperature, not in the fridge. It’s also important to separate fruits & vegetables that produce more ethylene gas from those that don’t – ethylene gas ripens food and can lead to quicker spoilage.

Learn to Preserve
Preserving or fermenting veggies is a great way to use up produce you didn’t have a chance to cook up. It will keep your produce from being thrown away and leaves you with delicious pickled veggies to enjoy later.

Give Your Leftovers New Life
Creating a whole new dish with them! Use leftover mashed potatoes to make potato pancakes or leftover rice for rice pudding or fried rice. Leftover proteins have an endless list of uses. Use them as a topping on pizza, your favourite pasta recipe, or the filling in a delicious dumpling.

Blend it Up
A smoothie is a great option for those less than beautiful fruit and veg. Not feeling a smoothie right now? Blend it up and then freeze it – when you’re ready for a smoothie, just add it to a blender with your choice of liquid.

Make a Homemade Stock
Food scraps and peels don’t need to head straight into the compost bin – there’s still a lot of flavour in there! Instead, toss all your food scraps (like potato peels, kale stalks, garlic peels, and other odds and ends) in a bag in your freezer. Once it’s full, add all your scraps to a stockpot with water, and your choice of herbs and seasonings. Cover and bring to a boil, once boiling reduce to simmer and allow to cook without the lid for about 60 minutes. Once finished, remove all the veggie pieces and allow your stock to cool before storing and using.

Not everything can be used. So if you can’t save something from heading past its prime – compost it! Composting reduces what goes to the landfill and gives back to the planet in the form of nutritious soil.
– Courtesy Katherine Sousa for

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