Apps to Help Against Food Waste

While the holidays are a time to bring family and friends together over big celebrations and meals we also need to be aware of food waste and those that go without.  Unfortunately, 40 percent of all food in the U.S. goes to waste because of excessive portion sizes at restaurants, misinterpretation of expiration dates on packaged foods, and overstocking. Thankfully, food waste can be reduced using what many people already carry in their pockets—their smartphones.

Numerous food waste apps have been created to help consumers throw away less food in their homes with date trackers, educational platforms, and recipe generators. Additionally, restaurants, grocery stores, and other food businesses can use the apps to donate food they can no longer sell.

This Thanksgiving, consider trying a new smartphone app to help your family reduce food waste. Here are 14 notable apps worth trying, courtesy of FoodTank (focused on building a global community for safe, healthy, nourished eaters):

1. AmpleHarvest: AmpleHarvest.org now allows farmers and gardeners to connect with food pantries through an iPhone app. The platform allows users to donate the abundance of their harvest to those in need.

2. Green Egg Shopper: In addition to tracking expiration dates on purchased food items,Green Egg Shopper also provides a tracker for coupons, vouchers, and overall food expenditures.

3. Feeding Forward: Californian businesses and farms can donate their excess product with Feeding Forward, which allows individuals to donate surplus food from their homes. Anyone wishing to give excess food can post the donation on the app or on the online website, and then allow a driver to pick up and deliver the food to a nearby shelter in need. Feeding Forward even allows users to track their impact by viewing profiles of the organizations and individuals who receive their donations.

4. Flash Food: In Arizona, FlashFood connects food service institutions to food recovery organizations and local community centers with a network of volunteers.

5. Food Cowboy: Food Cowboy works at the distribution level to redistribute rejected deliveries from wholesalers and restaurants to food banks and soup kitchens. Event hosts and caterers can use the app to request pickup of leftovers, and charities can use the platform to source larger donations.

6. FoodKeeper: The USDA voice-controlled FoodKeeper app provides storage method tips to extend shelf life, cooking tips for meat and seafood products, and sends expiration reminders to consumers. Additionally, the app contains a feature called Ask Karen that allows users to submit questions to its 24/7 virtual representative that can answer questions about cooking, storage, and food-borne illnesses.

7. FridgePal: Oftentimes, consumers throw away their groceries due to expiration dates. But FridgePal tracks the expiration dates of food items and offers consumer shopping lists, recipes searchable by lists of ingredients, and a meal planner. The app visually separates food contained in refrigerators, freezers, and pantries. It also gives cooks the option of viewing items by type, such as dairy, meals and leftovers, or sauces.

8. LeftoverSwap: Users of LeftoverSwap can snap a picture of their uneaten food and arrange for pickup with other community members who are interested in their leftovers.

9. PareUp: PareUp allows consumers in New York City to purchase unsold food at a discount from a number of various retailers, who in turn increase their revenues by selling food that normally would have been thrown away at the end of the business day.

10. Reta: Reta sends users timely reminders on their phones, allowing them to see all of their food at home from any location to plan their meals at any time. The feature is also useful while shopping for groceries to avoid overbuying. And Reta tracks how much users eat, allowing them to see lifetime statistics of what percentage of food goes uneaten.

11. Spoiler Alert: Spoiler Alert allows food distributors to donate surplus product to charities in Boston, MA. “We offer a secondary market for discounted food sales, which enables new revenue streams, and streamline and simplify the documentation for tax benefits, which are quite sizable,” says co-founder Emily Malina.

12. Still Tasty: Knowing how to store various food items can help anyone keep their food fresh longer. Still Tasty will also provide expiration date reminders while also giving users access to a detailed database containing hundreds of food items. The resource takes many variables into account, such as if the item’s store-bought or homemade, open or unopened, and packaging type, giving storage tips accordingly.

13. Waste No Food: Waste No Food is a nonprofit platform created by Kiran Sridhar, a high school student in the San Francisco Bay Area. The app connects farms, restaurants, cafeterias, and grocery stores with local groups that need donations, and has helped to save over 10,000 pounds of food.

14. Zero Percent: Chicago’s retailers with excess food can use the Zero Percent app to post available donations in real time. “Zero Percent is a food rescue platform, not just an app, that solves the problem of matching and moving excess prepared and perishable food between businesses and local nonprofits in a reliable and safe way,” says Raj Karmani, founder. “The platform coordinates the rescue of nearly 2,500 pounds a day without owning any vehicle or warehouse. Zero Percent will hit its millionth pound this holiday season.”

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Final Day 7

Our last day started the same as the first – with french toast.  My kids and husband had french toast with yogurt and fruit on top.  My son asked “Where’s the powdered sugar?”  Then he quickly remembered.  Yes, in the cupboard but behind an unhappy “not to eat” face.  I had the last of the oatmeal with a sprinkle of granola and half a banana.  So glad I bought those last evening.  I mistakenly put the last of the grapes on the table near my daughter and they were quickly eaten without sharing.  She likes her fruit.

a few good grapes
sleepy Jonas cutting his toast
Ellery dives in to a banana

My kids both had soccer games, so that also meant snacks provided afterwards.  My daughter enjoyed fruit kebobs while my son had strawberries and pirate booty (not my favorite – oh well).

my lunch leftovers

For lunch my son had flatbread with sunflower butter (we’re almost out).  My daughter had a hummus wrap.  My husband had the last of the turkey, hummus and a spoonful of avocado (left from dinner).  I ate last night’s taco left-overs – a few beans, some tofu and ground beef.  We rationed the last of the carrots – trying to save some for dinner.  We finished the bag of pretzels.  It kind of seemed bottomless during the week.  We were so hungry, I missed photos of lunch, except for mine (above).  Doesn’t look super appealing does it?  Ellery’s best friend came over and I felt bad not being able to offer more than carrots, pretzels, and water (although that’s what she usually eats at my house).

my snack

My daughter went to a friend’s birthday party.  Besides fun and friends, she got a cupcake.  Seemed like such a luxury I’m sure.  Friends of mine asked (who knew we were doing the challenge) if my kids would be allowed “outside” food.  I said yes.  I’m mean, but not cruel.  But I didn’t accept any food.  Thus when the party was done and we were home about 4pm, I was famished, with a headache.  I poured my last 1/2 glass of iced tea and finished off the last of the yogurt (so glad 32 ounces lasted through the week), topped with a bit of granola.  I felt much better almost immediately.

egg in a hole. note: my son made a "cap" for his milk with the cut out

Dinner wasn’t so hard – mostly because there wasn’t much to choose from.  There were eggs and bread, one sweet potato, some spinach, some leftover rice and a few carrots.  I don’t usually make individual meals, but I let each person decide how they wanted their eggs.  I made egg salad (I still had 2 hard boiled eggs from the week, and I made 2 more) for my daughter and husband.  Then my son and I chose poached/fried.  Acutally my son came up with egg in a basket.  Good thinking.  I decided to eat the remainder of the stir fry rice, topped with some sauteed spinach and egg on top.  We also had sweet potato chips.

dad's dinner
Ellery's dinner
my dinner
sweet potato chips

We always say our “thankfuls” at dinner each night.  Tonight’s involved soccer, birthday parties and completing the hunger challenge.  I’m thankful for my family participating again this year and putting up with me this week (tired, hungry, preoccupied).  We’re all thankful we don’t have to live on a food stamp budget as a way of life.  I’m thankful my kids aren’t teenagers.  I can’t even imagine how you feed a 16 year old boy with these limitations.  (And what about a pet?  We only have hermit crabs who eat a little spinach or fruit now and then).

I’ll be happy to going back to the convenience and freedom of eating when, what and where we want.  Healthfully, of course.  I also won’t be so (overly) preoccupied with food and photos.  And we’ll be more social.  I don’t like not being able to freely share food and host meals for friends and family.  Hunger effects everything – your mind, body, spirit, and your way of life.

 

 

 

 

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