You strolled through the aisles of your neighborhood market, armed with a shopping list. You did your due diligence, closely inspecting labels for nutritional facts and sustainable impact. You shopped smart, with your wallet and the planet in mind. But did you consider how you might limit food waste? Likely not.
Fast forward a week, and half of that produce you bought has gone bad or ended up in the garbage disposal. Sound familiar? We’ve all been there.
In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food waste makes up an estimated 30% to 40% of our food supply. (Yes, you read that correctly.) That’s nearly 108 billion pounds of food gone to waste each year.
While reducing food waste at home might be a challenge, it’s completely doable. Here are our favorite tips on how to limit food waste.
Cut back on perishables
Perishable items — like dairy, fruits and veggies — are unforgiving if you forget they’re in the crisper or have a busy week and don’t get around to cooking them. They sour quickly. If you find you’re throwing away a lot of produce or dairy, cut what you buy in half.
It might make you feel a bit uneasy, especially if coming home to a fully stocked fridge is your status quo. But it’s better to make a quick trip to the store if you run out of romaine lettuce or milk than to throw away food and money. Not only does buying less make you use what you have before it goes bad, but it also saves you money on groceries.
Swap fresh for canned or frozen
Instead of going hog-wild on fresh veggies and fruit, consider buying their frozen or canned counterparts. Often, frozen produce is picked at the peak of its season — which means it’s equally as tasty and packed with the same nutritional value as the fresh stuff.
While frozen items are usually just the produce with nothing added, you might want to look carefully at the nutritional label of canned fruits and veggies; they may contain added sugar or salt.
But the one thing both of these nonperishable items have in common is savings — thanks to coupons from our website.
Check your pantry before you shop
It’s easy to make a mad dash for the store without checking your current inventory. Memory lapses are a part of being human! Instead of being surprised by that pound of butter or bag of onions when you get home from the store with more in tow, take stock of what you already have in your pantry and fridge before you make the trip.
Shop less when you plan to be away from home
During certain times of the year, we tend to eat at home less often. For instance, during the holidays, you might be gifted with a pile of goodies and have a calendar stacked with food-filled gatherings.
Is a friend visiting from out of town? If that means more eating out, curb your grocery spending while they’re staying with you.
Try weekly meal prep
Designating a chunk of time to prep your meals for the week practically guarantees you will use what you bought. Plus, it’ll help you be a more mindful shopper, ensuring you only buy the ingredients you need for specific recipes. Meal prepping can also help you make the most of what you buy by exploring the versatility of certain foods.
For instance, if you’re cooking a pot of brown rice, see what you can add to it to mix up the flavors. Adding grape tomatoes, olive oil and feta cheese can give it a Mediterranean twist, while a splash of soy sauce and sauteed meat and broccoli turns it into a pan-Asian favorite.
Get in a pickle
Pickling veggies is a simple way to keep your produce from going into the trash can. Just a few clean jars, water, vinegar, salt and sliced veggies of your choice, and boom! You’ve got yourself some tasty, inexpensive and healthy snacks or condiments that are great any time of year. Just be sure to read up on safe canning methods to avoid inviting bacteria into your next batch of sauerkraut or pickled radishes.
Shop in your pantry
It’s easy to get enticed by a shiny new recipe that requires a bunch of ingredients you don’t have and end up buying new and exotic spices and condiments — only to use a tiny amount, once.
So, try an experiment: Skip your weekly trip to the grocery store and challenge yourself to use what you have on hand that week. Have fun, and get creative. Try substituting ingredients in dishes, or adding leftovers to something you’re cooking up. Tofu, chili crisp and a sprinkling of feta in a taco? Why not! The results might pleasantly surprise you.
Spend less, waste less
Eliminating food waste has many benefits for you and the planet. In making an effort to limit food waste, you’re reducing what goes into landfills, making better use of your food storage space and saving those dollars. While it begins with mindful shopping, being prudent in the kitchen is just as important. And don’t forget to have fun!