One of my biggest pet peeves is food waste. I’m sure many of you can relate! Not only do I hate being wasteful, but it feels like I’m literally throwing money away when I have to toss out something that has gone bad or passed its expiration date. According to the USDA, the average household throws away around $900 worth of food every year. That’s a LOT of money we’re tossing out, and I’m sure we could all find much better uses for that money!
But just by making a few simple changes to our shopping, cooking, and eating habits, we can cut down considerably on the amount of food waste we produce.
Here are some simple tips to help you create less food waste, and keep more money in your pocket while doing it!
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1. Try to shop for produce once a week. Buy smaller amounts of the fresh ingredients you use, so you’re more likely to use them up before they have a chance to go bad.
2. Utilize frozen fruits and vegetables, especially if you have a busy schedule and can’t find the time to shop for fresh produce every week. You can buy these in larger quantities and pull them out of the freezer as needed. This tasty quick pasta salad can be made in a hurry using frozen veggies!
3. Speaking of your freezer, you should be using it! And not just for frozen burritos. ;-) Learn about all the different things you can freeze for later in my post 31 Things You Can Freeze To Save Time And Money.
4. Get creative with the ingredients you already have on hand. You don’t need to run to the store for one missing ingredient from a recipe! Try substituting something else in instead (such as lemon juice for vinegar, or yogurt for mayo) or leaving it out entirely if possible.
5. Find ways to utilize the parts of produce you tend to throw away. The beet root is the most commonly used part of the plants, but the leafy greens on top of your beets are delicious too! Throw them into a salad, or saute them as a side.
6. Learn how to properly store your food in your fridge. This ensures that your food will stay fresh for the longest time possible. Get all the details from my post on 37 Tips for Keeping Food Fresh Longer.
7. Understand the dates listed on the foods you buy. A “sell-by” date indicates that after the printed date, you have a few more days to consume that food. A “best-if-used-by” date signals when a food has passed its prime flavor and quality (it is not an indication of food safety!) And a “use-by” date is the last day of recommended use for that food, and is determined by the manufacturer. Always inspect your food for unusual appearance or odor, which would indicate spoilage.
8. It might not be too late to use produce that’s less-than-fresh. Over-ripened fruit can be used in a fruit salad or jam, mixed into a crumble, or baked into muffins. Your veggies can be tossed into soups, stews, casseroles, sauces, or omelets!
9. Get creative with your leftovers! You can use leftover vegetables to make a stir-fry, or use leftover mashed potatoes to make a soup.
10. Keep track of food you tend to throw away. Keep a notepad somewhere near your garbage can, and start making a note of all of the food that gets thrown away. After a while, you can start identifying which things get thrown away most, and you’ll be able to start shopping smarter!
11. Stick to the list! When you do make a trip to the grocery store, resist those impulse purchases by making and sticking to a list! Lists also save money by helping avoid unnecessary trips to the store (because you forgot something) and making using coupons easier.
12. Buy bulk and perserve. If you come across a great deal on produce, you can get a lot of use out of it by buying it in bulk and preserving it. Canning and pickling are two of the most popular methods of preserving produce. I love making up a big batch of quick pickled red onions!
13. Compost it. If all else fails, and your produce does end up going bad, turn that waste into something useful by composting it! The resulting “black gold” will go a long way towards a bountiful harvest of MORE food!
How do you avoid wasting food?