Reduce, reuse, recycle. So many of us are familiar with this slogan! If you’re like me, you most often think of this phrase when you’re talking about recycling. But let’s not forget the first word of the phrase: reduce! That’s the first and most impactful step in lessening impact on the environment.
An easy thing we can do to live more sustainably and responsibly is to reduce the amount of food that we waste. In developed countries, people tend to waste A LOT of food. In the United States, it is estimated that we waste 30-40% of our food supply. This is incredibly sad considering that there are 795 MILLION people in the world who don’t have enough food. Not to mention, this food is then piling up in landfills where it is taking up space, releasing toxic gases, and keeping perfectly good organic material and nutrients from returning to the soil and food chain.
I was really excited recently to learn about a free app called Food Companion that helps people reduce food waste by tracking the food you have in your household. It also allows you to build a grocery list and helps you figure out what to eat for dinner, which is a LIFE SAVER (typed by someone who, just today, spent 30 minutes agonizing with my husband about what we wanted to eat for dinner. #indecisive. This app is for us.).
App creator Destiny Frett designed Food Companion after interning at a community kitchen in Australia that serves disadvantaged residents. She initially built it as a way to track the meals the organization had for distribution. After seven additional months of tinkering, she turned the app into Food Companion as it is today, perfect for individuals wanting to track and use up the food they already have in their household.
When I recently downloaded the app, I was impressed with the sleek design and ease of use. It does initially take a little bit of time to get all of the existing perishable items from your fridge, freezer, and pantry entered into the app. Once you have your base list entered, the app makes it incredibly easy to update your home inventory once you go grocery shopping (more on that in a bit).
When you add a food item to the app, you can enter its expiration date, which is really awesome. This allows the app to warn you when an item is going to be expiring soon, so you can go ahead and use up that food rather than forgetting and having to trash it when you discover it in the back of your fridge two weeks later.
In addition to ingredients, you can also enter meals into the app. For example, I baked a pasta dish the other night that made lots of leftovers. I entered it into the app along with the date I made it. The app then tracks how long it is still good for! This is great for someone who tends to be forgetful about leftovers, or someone who meal preps ahead of time. You can enter freezer meals as well, so if you are someone who likes to prep a bunch of freezer meals to have on hand for busy days, the app helps remind you when to go ahead and use them up for optimal quality.
The app also has a grocery list feature which is not only convenient for shopping, but also makes it easy to update your fridge/freezer/pantry inventory. Once you’ve purchased the item on your grocery list, you simply click a button to move it from the grocery list to your home inventory list. No need to enter it onto your inventory separately! So easy.
Finally, my favorite feature of the app: The recipes feature! Have a bunch of random items in your fridge that you have no idea how to combine into a meal? Have a produce box shipment that contains some strange vegetable you have no clue how to cook? Food Companion to the rescue! The app will suggest recipes for you based on the ingredients you have. I love not having to put effort into coming up with what I want to have for dinner!
I’m so in love with this app that helps us reduce our waste and save money by using the food we already have. If you’re interested in checking it out, Food Companion is currently available for Apple users in the App Store.
What do you think of this innovative new solution to reducing waste? Are there any other apps you use to live a more sustainable lifestyle? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
This looks so helpful, especially when you’re out at the grocery store!
Does it have a reminder or do you recommend a process for updating the app after you use ingredients so it stays up to date and accurate?
I think the easiest thing to do is to go through and delete ingredients that you have used up while you’re waiting on your meal to cook, or while you’re eating!
I actually turned off push notifications because I already get way too many notifications every day, but I *think* the app will nudge you when an ingredient is getting close to expiring!
So, I downloaded the app, and I’m excited to give it a try. I’m especially interested in the fact that it generates recipes based on what you have on hand.