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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Jenna Smith, Extension Educator brings you helpful tips to make meals easy, healthy and tasty!

Food Waste in America

This weeks blog post is written by Illinois State University's dietetic graduate student, Erin Fejes!

As a dietetic graduate student and future registered dietitian, I am concerned that so many Americans are food insecure. The Environmental Protection Agency states that 42 million Americans are currently food insecure, while the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported total food waste in the U.S. to be 161 billion dollars in 2010.

If we could donate food that is currently being wasted to these food insecure Americans, they would each receive roughly $70 of food per week. This is more than the USDA allots for a moderate-cost weekly food budget for an adult.

Reducing food waste saves money, reduces methane emissions from landfills, conserves energy and resources that go into planting, growing, harvesting, and transporting the food, and helps the community when extra food is donated to those in need. Reducing food waste starts at the grocery store; only buy as much food as you and your family will eat. Buying in bulk will only save money if the food can be eaten before it goes bad.

Other approaches to reducing food waste include learning proper storage of fresh fruits and vegetables, freezing foods that won't be eaten in a timely manner, using older food items before newer ones and repurposing leftovers into soups, casseroles, stir fries, and baked goods. As part of National Nutrition Month's theme this year Go Further with Food, make it a goal to reduce food waste (and save money!) all year long.


Leftover Fridge Soup (Printable PDF)

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

2 potatoes, peeled and chopped

2 large carrots, peeled and sliced

4 cups broth, stock, or water

1 can (14.5 oz.) petite diced tomatoes

1 to 2 cups cooked meat (i.e. lean ground beef, ham, chicken, etc.)

1 cup cooked beans

½ cup chopped bell pepper

1 cup frozen peas or corn

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large stockpot, heat the oil; add the onion and cook, stirring on medium-low for five minutes. Add the potatoes and carrots and stir. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Stir in the broth. Add the tomatoes, meat, beans, peppers, peas or corn, and seasonings. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

**Note: As this soup is made with leftover vegetables, beans, and meat you can add or subtract ingredients as need be. Get creative and cook with what you have!

Yield: 8 servings

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 190 calories, 3.5 grams fat, 290 milligrams sodium, 24 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fiber, 15 grams protein

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