The Save The Food campaign has released a new, free digital tool that offers a different take on meal-prepping—helping users not only eat healthy, but save food, money and the environment in the process.
“Meal Prep Mate” is the latest resource from Ad Council and the Natural Resources Defense Council’s national public service campaign aimed at reducing the massive amount of food that is wasted by consumers in the U.S. and all of the money and resources trashed along with it—from water to energy and more.
“Nobody puts time, money and effort into prepping meals for the week because they want to see it go to waste,” said Elizabeth Balkan, Food Waste Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “This new tool can help people meal prep in a way that’s not only healthy for their bodies, but their wallets and the environment too. Together, we can build a better future for ourselves and our children by starting with our forks.”
While meal prepping can help people eat healthy, it can be difficult to accurately portion meals. Created pro bono by Publicis Sapient, the easy-to-use digital tool is designed to help meal prep novices and experts alike avoid over-purchasing and over-preparing by building personalized shopping lists, portioning meals and making use of what’s already in the fridge
“Meal prepping has become synonymous with saving time and eating healthy, but most of us still end up wasting food in the process,” said Lisa Sherman, President and CEO of the Ad Council. “As the newest tool in the arsenal of Save The Food innovations, Meal Prep Mate is bringing something new to the market that consumers need, allowing meal preppers to better prepare for the week while also saving money and the environment.”
Users can choose to build their own customized plan or use one of Meal Prep Mate’s existing plans, with vegan and vegetarian options available for both options.
Users who choose to follow an existing Meal Prep Mate plan will share the number of people eating and the number of days they are planning to eat. From there, they will receive a tailored shopping list and pre-designed recipes—developed by registered dietitian Rebecca Ditkoff, culinary producer Clare Langan and Save The Food experts—for nutritious, accurately portioned breakfast, lunch and dinner meals, all of which rely on one set of ingredients.
Users who build their own plan start by selecting the proteins, produce and grains they want to use. Then, they input the number of people eating, the number of meals needed for them and the types of meals being served (breakfast, lunch and/or dinner). Based on this information, the tool then suggests how much of each ingredient users should buy. It also provides a Waste-less Guide for how to best store and use up their ingredients, as well as “remix meal” ideas to prevent home cooks from getting bored of their meals mid-week.
“We are honored to be a part of the latest iteration of the food waste campaign along with the Ad Council and NRDC,” said Anthony Yell, Chief Creative Officer North America, Publicis Sapient. “The new tool helps end-users eat better while saving food, money and the environment, and the effort is another example of our company’s commitment to enhancing customer experience.”
Up to 40 percent of all food in the United States never gets eaten. Most of that waste happens in people’s homes—more than the restaurant industry, grocery stores or any other single part of the supply chain.
It’s a problem that costs the average American family of four more than $1,500 each year. Nationwide, $218 billion worth of food goes to waste annually.
The environmental costs are also staggering: If global food waste were a country, it would have the third-highest climate footprint, behind only the U.S. and China. On top of that, 21 percent of the water used by the U.S. agriculture industry goes to growing food that’s never eaten. And food makes up 21 percent of the waste rotting away in our landfills.
As part of the launch, Save The Food is also partnering with digital content creators who will serve as ambassadors for the campaign and share their experiences of reducing food waste to their audiences, encouraging followers to do the same. Talent includes Yumna Jawad, Caitlin Shoemaker, Fablunch (aka Olga Meshkati), FitCoupleCooks and DariusCooks.
Meal Prep Mate joins a suite of free food waste-busting consumer resources from Save The Food: The Guest-imator is a digital portion planning calculator for holiday meals and other large gatherings. The Save The Food Alexa skill educates consumers about simple ways to limit food waste in their own homes, from storage tips to tricks for reviving food past its prime. And SaveTheFood.com has a wealth of additional tips, tricks and recipes to help consumers reduce food waste.