tips to reduce food waste


Food waste has become a dangerous habit: buying more than we need at supermarkets, letting fruits and vegetables spoil at home or ordering more than we can eat at restaurants. Most people don’t realize how much food they throw away every day — from uneaten leftovers to spoiled produce. Each person creates at least a half-pound of food waste a day. Cutting back on food waste is incredibly easy, and I’ve made it even simpler by putting together tips designed to reduce food waste while saving money.



  1. Shop smart

Plan meals, use grocery lists, and avoid impulse buys. This way, you’re less likely to buy things you don’t need and that you’re unlikely to actually consume. Buy items only when you have a plan for using them, and wait until perishables are all used up before buying more.


  1. Buy exactly what you need

For example, if a recipe calls for two carrots, don’t buy a whole bag. Instead, buy loose produce so you can purchase the exact number you’ll use. Likewise, try buying grains, nuts, and spices from bulk bins so you can measure out exactly what you need and don’t over-buy (Just note that there’s a difference between buying in bulk and buying from bulk bins; the first one can actually create more waste if we buy more than we can realistically use). Bonus: This tip will save some cash, to boot. Eventually you will also prepare less food, hence less waste.



  1. Be realistic

If you live alone, you won’t need the same number of apples as a family of four (unless you really like apples). If you rarely cook, don’t stock up on goods that have to be cooked in order to be consumed (such as baking supplies or dried grains and beans).


  1. Buy funny-looking produce

Many fruits and vegetables are thrown away because their size, shape, or colors don’t quite match what we think these items “should” look like. But for the most part these items are perfectly good to eat, and buying them at a farmer’s market or the grocery store helps use up food that might otherwise be tossed.


  1. Have a Plan B

Let’s say you buy an expensive ingredient to make a fancy dish for that fancy dinner  party— and then the dinner party is canceled. Don’t toss the food! Instead, come up with a backup recipe and use it in a different dish (or just eat it plain, because c’mon — it’s food).


  1. Practice FIFO

It stands for First In, First Out. When unpacking groceries, move older products to the front of the fridge/freezer/pantry and put new products in the back. This way, you’re more likely to use up the older stuff before it expires.





  1. Monitor what you throw away

Designate a week in which you write down everything you throw out on a regular basis. Tossing half a loaf of bread each week? Maybe it’s time to start freezing half that loaf the moment you buy it so it doesn’t go stale before you’re able to eat it.


  1. Take stock

Note upcoming expiration dates on foods you already have at home, and plan meals around the products that are closest to their expiration. On a similar note, keep a list of what’s in the freezer and when each item was frozen. Place this on the freezer door for easy reference and use items before they pass their prime.


  1. Designate one dinner each week as a “use-it-up” meal

Instead of cooking a new meal, look around in the cupboards and fridge for leftovers and other foods that might otherwise get overlooked , and make a meal out of that. For example, with left over rice you can add some mixed vegetables and just make fried rice.


  1. Eat leftovers!

Brown-bag them for work or school for a free packed lunch. If you don’t want to eat leftovers the day after they’re cooked, freeze and save them for later (just remember to note when you froze them so you can use them up in a timely fashion).




  1. Use it all

When cooking, use every piece of whatever food you’re cooking with, whenever possible. For example, leave the skin on cucumbers and potatoes, sauté broccoli stems along with the florets (they taste good too; we promise!), and so on. Bonus: Skins and stems often  provide additional nutrients and fiber to our bodies.


  1. Store better

If you regularly throw away stale chips/cereal/crackers/etc., try storing them in airtight containers — this should help them keep longer (or, of course, just buy fewer of these products).






  1. Repurpose leftovers scraps

Use vegetable and meat scraps in homemade stocks, and use citrus fruit rinds and zest to add flavor to other meals.


  1. Check the fridge

Make sure it’s functioning at maximum efficiency. Look for tight seals, proper temperature, etc. — this will ensure that the fridge keeps food fresh as long as possible.


  1. Preserve produce

Produce doesn’t have to be tossed just because it’s reaching the end of its peak. Soft fruit can be used in smoothies; wilting vegetables can be used in soups, etc. And both wilting fruits and veggies can be turned into delicious, nutritious juice or even pickles.


  1. Donate what you won’t use

Never going to eat that can of beans? Donate it to a food kitchen before it expires so it can be consumed by someone who needs it. If there is a special for instance 2 bunches of spinach is cheaper than buying one but you know you are not going to use all, give to your neighbors.


  1. Pickle it.

Both fruits and vegetables can be preserved through an easy pickling process.


  1. Understand expiration dates


Turns out those expiration dates don’t always have to do with food safety; rather, they’re usually manufacturers’ suggestions for peak quality. If stored properly, most foods (even meat) stay fresh several days past the “use-by” date. However, try and use your products before expiration dates.





  1. Compost!

Hate potato skins? Don’t feel like turning wilted vegetables into soup stock? No worries; food scraps still don’t need to be tossed. Just start a compost pile in the backyard  and convert food waste into a useful resource. You can eventually start growing you own herbs at home.


  1. Check in with your belly

Here it is, ladies and gentlemen: The solution to the “clean your plate!” issue. Simply take a moment to ask your body what it wants to eat, and how much — and then serve yourself that. Or simply start with less food on your plate. If you want more, you can always go back for it — but this way you won’t find out that you’re full and still have a heap of food in front of you. In fact, one study found that reducing portion sizes is an easy way to reduce food waste.


  1. Split the dish

If eating out, split a dish with a friend so you don’t waste half of the giant portion sizes found at many restaurants.


  1. Take home leftovers

Even if you’re not into splitting meals, those portion sizes don’t have to be wasted. Just ask to take leftovers home (bonus eco points if you bring your own reusable container!), and you’ve got yourself a free lunch the next day. If you do go out for dinner and have leftovers, ask for a doggie bag! The kitchen will just throw it away, and you may as well put it to good use.


I sincerely hope that this article help enlighten you and saves you money in the long run.




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