How to Reduce Food Waste

The older you get, the more you probably aren’t comfortable with wasting food. Food can cost a great deal of money, and by throwing away unused food, you are throwing away the money you spend in a sense.

However, if you’d like to reduce food waste and thus save money, there are several ways you can do that.

Start When You’re At the Grocery Store

When you’re grocery shopping, start off with the mindset that you don’t want to purchase anything you might waste. Determine which types of foods your family eats and how much they eat in general.

Plan Your Meals Carefully
Once you know this information, you’ll be able to plan your meals for each day very carefully. I like to go shopping with a detailed list of which foods my family and I will each for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It helps my shopping trip run smoother and helps me avoid any random impulse buys that could potentially become food waste in the future. Stick to your meal plan and grocery list as best as you can to stay on track.

Avoid Unnecessary Bulk Items
Buying in bulk is not for everyone, especially small families with picky eaters. Even if it seems like buying certain items in bulk will be cheaper, if you get tired of eating those things early on, the food will just go to waste.

Plan to Eat Discounted Food Early
If you still want to save money at the grocery store though, check out the discount meat and produce sections to see what is on sale. Always check the shelf life of everything you buy because discounted food may have a closer expiration date meaning you should eat it sooner rather than later to avoid wasting it.

Try to purchase a portion of your food with a shorter shelf life and another portion with a longer shelf life so you won’t have to feel rushed to eat everything in a few days. Remember you can freeze items like meat, bread, cheese, and even milk in most cases to preserve their shelf life so you don’t waste anything.

Consider Frequent Shopping Trips
Not everyone enjoys shopping which can lead some people to attempt to shop less than they should and buy more items during one single trip. This is a great way to save time and avoid going grocery shopping, but if you are wasting more food as a result, this strategy may not be so productive.

You may want to try smaller, more frequent shopping trips throughout the month so you can pick out what you want and need, then eat over the next few days and repeat the cycle.

Track the Food that You Did Buy

When the food is already at your home, it’s best to check up on it and track the expiration dates of each item almost daily if you can. There are probably countless times where I find something in my fridge and forget I even purchased it. That’s not good, because that food could be going to waste.

Keep Your Initial Grocery List and Track Expiration Dates
When you go grocery shopping you probably write out or type of a list to narrow down what you want and check off items as you find them. What do you do with the list after you’ve completed your shopping trip? Instead of trashing your grocery list, hold on to it and write down the expiration date next to each food item you picked up and place the list on your refrigerator. When an item is eaten completely, you cross it off your list.

This technique is convenient because it lets reminds you how old food is getting each time you open your fridge and it will only take a few minutes to maintain.

Monitor Food
Aside from tracking everything with a list, you can also monitor your food’s shelf life by tracking it by placing small written notes on each item. This may seem more time consuming at first, but if you use color coded labels it may be easier to keep up with. Make sure you are sticking to your original meal plans and keep track of the food items you’ve wasted in the past so you avoid them or minimize the amount your bring home.

Utilize Leftovers
Leftovers can be pretty yummy if you make too much food and it is not eaten right away. You can take leftovers to work for lunch or eat the same meal two days in a row. It won’t hurt, plus it may be nice to cook a meal for two days and get a break from the kitchen for one night.

You can also incorporate leftover foods in new dishes that you make the next day to get rid of them too.

Cook Soup
Making a big batch of soup is another way to get rid of leftovers and unused food so it doesn’t go to waste. Have some peppers or vegetables, beans or chicken laying around.

Try throwing everything in a Crockpot and preparing a delicious batch of soup. I’ve made vegetable beef soup, chicken tortilla soup, and Brazilian soup all from extra food I found in my fridge. If you’re not sure how to go about preparing your meal, make a list of the ingredients you have and add the word soup to it when performing an online search. Dozens of soup recipes with those specific ingredients will come up and you choose which one you’d like to prepare. Remember, you don’t have to stick to strict recipes either. I’ve modified plenty of recipes either because I didn’t have a particular ingredient or didn’t want to include it and my meals still turned out pretty tasty.

Share Food
My final tip to help you prevent food waste is to share your food with others. If you have a lot of food that you fear may go to waste, invite a few friends over to eat or bring some items to work so your coworkers can enjoy them.

Your kindness may be returned to you in the future but nevertheless, sharing food with others is a great way to make sure it doesn’t go to waste.

Do you ever waste food? How do you prevent that from happening?

Posted in: Food and Grocery

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