7 Tips for Reducing Food Waste

Hands up if you ever questioned your parents when they told you not to waste your food because there are people starving in Africa.

As a child this really doesn’t make a lick of sense. How can the food I don’t eat help a starving person? Are we actually going to ship our leftovers to them?

We all know as adults that this was our parents’ way of trying to encourage us not to waste our food. But the truth is, if our ancestors could see how much food we’re wasting day in and day out, they would be absolutely appalled. And you know what? It really, really makes me mad; it doesn’t have to be this way!

1.3 BILLION tons of food gets wasted per year by people from all over the world. That’s billion, with a B.

To put this all into perspective, that is roughly one-third of the food this planet produces. ONE THIRD. Wasted. And this is happening while 925 million people on the planet are suffering from hunger.

This is just not right and it’s not doing our planet any good. Food disposal is hard on the environment and it costs money. Not only is good money wasted by throwing out food we paid for, but roughly a billion dollars is spent on getting rid of wasted food in the United States each year.

And while we can’t stop the world from being wasteful, we can put an end to wastefulness in our own homes. Here are a few ideas:

1. Make a meal plan each and every week (all of our Dinner Answers menus come with a categorized shopping list) before you go grocery shopping. You’ll only buy what you need.

2. Avoid buying in bulk unless you know you will eat the food you buy, or unless you plan to donate some of that food to a food bank or soup kitchen.

3. Serve smaller portions to your family so food isn’t scraped into the garbage.

4. Plan leftovers from today’s dinner for tomorrow’s meals (I do this all the time!–It’s even a built-in feature in Dinner Answers).

5. Check the expiration dates of everything you buy, so you’re not putting your groceries directly in the garbage when you get home.

6. Take a cue from the grocery stores and rotate the food in your fridge. Put newer produce towards the back and bring older food to the front so it doesn’t rot back there.

7. Use your crisper drawers for items you eat a lot, like carrots and apples. It’s not called a crisper, not a rotter, so don’t put easier-to-forget-about items down there to languish where it will just turn to a nasty mess.

Join the conversation on Facebook: How do you try to prevent wasted food in your home?

8 Responses

  1. I check my fridge twice a week and rotate food– serve things that are on their way out as snacks for the kids- they pick something from the leftover pile then they can choose something else.  We make smoothies with leftover bits of fruit and veggies-which I freeze in a baggy or container for that purpose.  Leftover smorgasbord night is my favorite way to use it up.. everything is put out and folks can choose what they want, the rest either gets frozen in portion sized meals for easy lunches or tossed. 

    1. The English make a dinner with their leftovers and gravy, I believe. So I used to clean out the fridge once a week or so. I didn’t put everything together but put them all out separately in the middle of the table and everyone could choose just what they wanted. We called it the English name for leftovers “Bubble & Squeek!”

  2. It’s just the two of us, so my husband and I keep a pint sized “Soup Jar” going in the freezer. In that, we put bits and pieces of veggies, meat, or cheese that are left over, as well as extra pan juices…anything and everything, almost.

    Then when the jar is full, I thaw it out, put it in the blender with two or three handfuls of greens, plus seasonings, and some broth (or water, or V-8, with Better Than Bullion) and whiz it up, simmer it, and serve it with a hearty sandwich or cheese and Triscuits, depending on how hungry we are.

    Voila, a nutritious meal on the table!

    We don’t mess around with leftovers unless there is an abundance of something — enough for another meal. If there’s not enough there for at least two small servings, into the soup jar it goes!

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