We’ve all been there: cleaning out the fridge and sorting through the food to toss things that are past the expiration date—or just plain rotten. The sobering fact is that nearly 40% of the food in the United States goes uneaten, that’s more than 20 pounds of food per person per month being thrown in the trash. The good news is with a little planning ahead, you can eliminate this food waste in your home and increase savings in your food budget.
Plan Your Meals
The first tip is the simplest: if you write up a weekly meal plan, do your grocery shopping based on that plan, then you’re less likely to buy ingredients that won’t be used in a meal. If you can’t find the time to make a meal plan, or don’t like losing your kitchen spontaneity, try to come up with at least 2 uses for each item you put in the grocery cart, and visualize the meals you could make as you shop.
Store Foods the Right Way
Some fruits and vegetables store better inside the fridge, some store better outside. You can find a simple guide on where to store fruits and veggies here.
- Freeze extra fruits and veggies, or buy frozen to begin with if you know you won’t be eating them within a few days.
- Bananas give off a natural gas as they ripen that causes nearby fruits to ripen more quickly and can lead to spoilage. Store bananas away from other fruits, or at least above them.
- If you prefer fruit to be at room temperature but it’s a kind of fruit that should be refrigerated to stay fresh longer, take out what you’ll eat each day but leave the rest in the fridge.
It’s easy to put off prepping food when you’re putting away groceries. Who wants to divide up the meat and put it in freezer bags for the freezer right after a long grocery store trip after work? Unfortunately, it’s also easy to forget about the meat and leave it sitting on the bottom shelf of the fridge for a week instead. You’re better off doing the prep work sooner rather than later. You can also freeze bread and fresh fruit if you know you won’t get to them in time—just make sure to consider the time you’ll need to let them thaw before you’ll need to use them.
It’s easy to think you should have certain perishable foods in your house, even though no one who lives with you eats them. If that pretty bowl on the dining room table is in a cycle of being filled with fresh bananas on Saturday afternoon and then emptied into the trash after the bananas go bad, stop buying bananas. As long as you and your family are not lacking any major nutrients, there’s no food you absolutely have to buy. If you don’t eat it, stop buying it. You also don’t have to buy groceries to make 7 dinners if you know you won’t be making dinner all 7 nights—maybe you plan to go out, or toss a Dogtown pizza in the oven instead!
Do you have any tips to eliminate food waste at home? What’s the common food item that you always thought you “needed” to buy but never used? Share in the comments below!