Do you have a lot of food waste each month? You’re not alone. In the U.S, more than 108 billion pounds of food gets wasted each year. Throwing out food is not only wasteful but it’s not the best for the environment as well as your wallet. There are a few easy things you can do to eliminate food waste.
It all starts by making the commitment to use and consume more of the food you buy. When you intentionally set out to eliminate food waste, you will find yourself throwing out fewer items each week. These 8 tips can help you get started.
Of course, the easiest way to stop wasting so much food is to buy less when you go to the grocery store. Keep track of which things you’re tossing out and take it as a sign that you may not have time to use everything you’re purchasing before it goes back.
Experiment with buying fewer snacks, produce, or meat and make it work with what you have. Also, try making meals with fewer ingredients so you don’t have to buy a ton of stuff. I’ll admit, sometimes I buy fresh herbs or produce for one particular recipe but then I never use it again. As a result, perfectly good food gets tossed out. By buying less stuff at the store, you’ll give yourself instant financial relief by reducing your total grocery bill as well.
Another way to eliminate food waste is by planning all your meals in advance. Most people who toss out food do it because they forgot they had those items in the fridge and didn’t use them fast enough.
Make sure you’re shopping with a list and buying ingredients for specific meals you plan to make. Write out a weekly menu so you know what to prepare each day. That way, there’s a clear plan for everything you buy so it gets used.
I used a whiteboard that I got from Target to write out meals for the week on the fridge.
Check Expiration Dates Weekly
Be diligent about checking food for expiration dates so you can plan to use it beforehand. If you have milk that will be going bad in a few days, serve your family cereal for breakfast or try to make mac and cheese as a side dish for dinner that night.
You can also plan to use produce before it goes bad by adding some cooked vegetables to your lunch or intentionally grabbing some fruit for a snack. Set a time aside each week to scan through everything in your refrigerator and check for any upcoming expiration dates. This should only take 15 minutes.
However, it’s one will be extremely helpful in determining your grocery list and future meal plan. Oftentimes, we go to the store without checking what they have at home or using up foods before they go bad. This simple step could probably save you hundreds per year.
Store Food Correctly
If you want to eliminate food waste, make sure you’re storing food correctly in the first place. If you store some foods the wrong way, they will go bad quickly before you can even get a chance to eat them.
Make sure you’re storing produce correctly. Some items may need to be refrigerated but others like potatoes, tomatoes and onions don’t have to be refrigerated.
Bring Your Lunch to Work
How often do you bring your lunch to work? It’s tempting, but avoiding restaurant meals for lunch could save you more than $1,000 per year. Plus, packing lunch can save you even more money by eliminating food waste.
It’s common to plan to buy a meal for lunch because it’s convenient. But in reality, you probably have enough stuff at home to prepare a lunch with. Set yourself up for success by planning out home lunch ideas weekly and scanning your fridge and cabinets to see which meals you can piece together.
Use Your Freezer
Realize that you can free a lot of foods as well to eliminate food waste. My husband and I shop for two weeks worth of groceries. This means we almost always freeze our meat when we get it. I’ve accidentally let meat sit in the fridge for more than a week and it would go bad. You can free meat for up to 6 to 12 months in most cases which is good to know.
Aside from meat, you can also freeze other foods like bread, fruit, and more. If you buy a load of bread or some buns and your family is not eating it quickly enough, stick it in the freezer and put the date on it so you can keep track of how long it stays there. You can also make meals with food before it goes back and stick it in the freezer for a future dinner.
Consider investing in a deep freezer so you’ll have plenty of room to store foods and prevent unnecessary waste.
You may have the best intentions to plan out meals and track expiration dates but then life happens. Things may get busy or you may have to travel over the weekend and suddenly realize you have food that will be going bad in a few days.
Try making soup or a simple meal out of the ingredients in your fridge and pantry. There are so many different kinds of soup you can make if you have various types of veggies lying around. You can also just do a Google search of all the foods you have on hand then add the word ‘recipe’ and see what comes up. It’s one of the easiest ways to eliminate food waste and clear out the fridge.
You can practice preventing food waste by even avoiding throwing out your scraps and leftover food. If you garden in the spring, start a compost bin where you can save kitchen scraps, stems from veggies and fruit, coffee grounds, and more.
Be sure to look up what you can and can’t compost. That way, you’re not setting aside food items that will spoil or attract pests. When the time is right, you can add your compost to soil and the vitamins and minerals in it will be recycled and help fuel your plants.
Summary: Eliminate Food Waste With These Steps
This is a step-by-step process that takes time. You may not eliminate food waste overnight but you can start taking small actions to see initial progress. Realize that you could be throwing away thousands of dollars of food each year and use that as motivation to be more resourceful and save your money.
Do you have a lot of food waste regularly? Which one of these tips are you most willing to try?