Whether it’s leftover food or ingredients we’re unable to use before they expire, many of us are guilty of throwing out more than we should. And it’s contributing to a major issue of food waste across the country. If you’re ready to get smart about the food you buy and eliminate waste, we have some simple and effective tips you can use.
We’re sharing seven ways to cut down on food waste. You’ll be able to make the most of what you purchase and avoid throwing anything out. Not only will it help the environment, but it’ll make a difference for your wallet as well.
1. Be Smart With Meal Planning & Grocery Shopping
The first step to cut down on food waste is to make smarter choices with your weekly meals and how you do your grocery shopping. Our first tip is to take time to plan your meals in advance every week. Use this as an opportunity to plan meals around ingredients you already have and ones you need to purchase. This way, you can use everything up before it expires.
You also shouldn’t buy more than what you need because the excess will likely end up getting tossed out. Having a grocery list with all the specific items you need and going straight for those items once you arrive at the store, should prevent you from buying too much.
Another good solution would be to sign up for a meal delivery service such as Hello Fresh or Blue Apron. Why? They send you the exact amount of ingredients needed to make every meal. That means you don’t even need to think about food waste.
2. Keep Your Fridge & Pantry Organized
How many times have you purchased something at the grocery store, only to get home and realize you already had it in the pantry? Odds are, it’s happened to you a few times! And the reason we fall victim to this is that we fail to keep our refrigerators, pantries, and cabinets organized and tidy. By keeping everything in order, you’re able to easily see what you already have, which reduces the risk of purchasing duplicate items.
Not only will this help cut down on food waste, but it’s going to keep more money in your pocket since you won’t purchase unnecessary items. In many cases, having duplicates means we aren’t able to finish it all before one spoils.
Another simple pantry organization tip to keep in mind is to move older items in the front and place newer items in the back. This will allow you to see what’s getting close to its expiration so you can use it sooner, rather than later.
3. Store Your Food Properly
Once you’ve gotten home from your weekly grocery shopping, you’ll need to put everything away. But one mistake that many people are making is that they’re failing to store their groceries properly. And it’s simply because they don’t know the right place to put everything!
For example, you’ll want to place milk and juices on your top shelf. Items that need to be refrigerated after opening, dips, marinara sauce, and yogurt are all best on the middle shelf. And you can stash your leftover meats, berries, and hard veggies on the lower shelf. Here are some more details on where food goes in the fridge.
4. Don’t Serve Portions That Are Too Large
Far too often we’re guilty of serving ourselves and others a little too much to eat. And what winds up happening is that we’re unable to finish it all and the food gets thrown out. Instead, serve smaller portions and use smaller plates. It tricks the mind into thinking you’re getting a full plate of food, so you won’t feel like you need to eat more.
5. Save & Eat Your Leftover Meals
When you do have leftovers from your meals, make sure you save them instead of throwing them away. Pack them in the fridge and make a plan to eat the remaining food the next day. Many leftovers make for the perfect lunch or dinner, plus it saves you the hassle of having to cook another meal.
You can even plan your weekly meals accordingly. If you know you’ll have leftovers from Monday night’s dinner, plan in advance to eat them on Tuesday at lunch or dinner. This way, you won’t have to let anything go to waste.
6. Donate to Local Food Banks & Farms
If you find that you have items you aren’t using, donate them to someone who could use them. There are plenty of food banks that would happily accept canned goods and other items to feed those who are hungry in your area.
Some local farms may even take food scraps to feed their livestock with. All you have to do is call around and figure out who is willing to accept your leftover food and what they’ll take. There are specific regulations that have to be followed in these cases.
7. Bring Awareness to What You’re Actually Throwing Away
To open your eyes to just how much food you’re tossing out, try this simple exercise. Whenever you throw away food scraps, leftovers, or expired items, jot it down on a piece of paper. Then, at the end of the week, take a look at your list. This will allow you to see just how much waste you’re generating. And that should be inspiration enough to make a change!