8 Easy Ways to Stop Wasting Food at Home

Reduce your food waste output and create a sustainable home with these easy-to-follow suggestions.

By Stephanie Hell

 

To this day, I remember when I was a little girl being told to finish my plate as a disgusting piece of fried liver stared up at me. I usually had a liver exit plan that included the family dog and an open kitchen window.

 

Fast-forward to the present where we know that up to 40% of foods in the American supply chain end up in the landfill or down the garbage disposal. What we collectively throw out could feed all the hungry citizens of the world three times over, and costs us $165 billion per year!

 

Even small changes can make a big difference. It’s easy to curtail the waste of food by starting in our own kitchen. And you’ll be saving money too!

 

1. Shop for Meals, Not for the Pantry

Those who visit the grocery store more often tend to buy less. By shopping for only what you need for the next few meals, and sticking to the list, you’ll avoid buying foods you’ll likely never consume. If your recipe calls for two carrots, don’t buy the whole bag. Purchasing loose produce at your local farmer’s market decreases both waste and costs. If your local grocer has a fresh salad bar, stock up on the few things you need from there instead of a whole bag of vegetables that will rot in your fridge.

 

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2. First In, First Out

Grocery sellers arrange the oldest items at the front of the shelves and rotate the newest to the rear. By doing the same in your cupboards, you’ll use up what you have before the expiration date relegates it to the trash bin. Plan meals around the items due to expire soonest. There are scores of apps that offer recipes by ingredient lists.

 

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3. Leftover Night

Designate one night per week to eat up that one last apple, the chunk of lasagna, and the remaining half of the broccoli head. It can be a fun smorgasbord, and anything goes. Don’t overlook the pantry and cupboards where you might find an overlooked can of soup to serve as the appetizer.

 

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4. Store it Right

There’s no lack of supplies in the storage department, so make sure you’re using the right one. Cereal and chips go stale fast, so use airtight containers. Freeze your leftovers and doggie bags in freezer bags for quick lunches, and use the pre-printed box on the bags to note the date. Know what produce goes in the refrigerator, and which lasts longer at room temperature. (TIP: pay attention to how they’re stored at the grocery store.)

 

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5. Cook it Right

It’s easy to get caught up in serving huge portions. A trip to most restaurants tells us that more is better. If you’re not keeping up with all the leftovers, trim back on how much you’re cooking. Smaller portions are easier to cook, less expensive, and leave less to clean up.

 

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6. Monitor Your Waste

If you’re constantly throwing out half of any perishable like fruit, bread, eggs, or milk, start buying half the amount. A few weeks of realizing what you’re wasting your money on is usually all it takes to start saving.

 

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7. Make Lemonade

The overripe conundrum is one of the biggest causes of waste. Have a “Plan B” for citrus, bananas, avocados, strawberries, and fresh veggies. Smoothies, lemonade, soups, and guacamole are just a few of the great tasting and good-for-you recipes which sometimes fare even better with an aged product.

 

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8. Compost

This is by far the best way to dispose of unused foodstuffs and gives our fragile planet a break. If you haven’t taken the big leap, you’ll find lots of helpful hints online. You can start composting small with a countertop version (use the smell-reducing tips), or a garbage can on your back porch. Until you’re ready to make a commitment to composting, do the simple things like adding coffee grounds and eggshells to your houseplants for a nutrient-rich snack, or offer your scraps to the neighbor’s compost pile.

 

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If you still find yourself left with some nonperishables getting dusty from lack of attention, there’s likely a local food bank that could use it. Their needs are usually much greater than the supply, so there’s really no reason to keep wasting food.