Most people don’t realize how much food they throw away at home. Things like spoiled produce, uneaten leftovers, and food scraps add up and end up in landfills or combustion facilities. If we reduce our food waste by managing our groceries better, we can save money, help those in need in our communities, and conserve our natural resources for future generations.
Meal Planning Tips
By planning weekly meals in advance and shopping for no more than what you expect you’ll use for those meals, you can save time and money. This can also help you eat healthier food using the freshest ingredients.
Keep a list of your family’s favorite meals.
Decide ahead of time which days of the week you’ll eat at home.
Plan a week’s worth of meals before you go shopping, and only purchase the ingredients you’ll need for those meals.
Check your cupboard and refrigerator inventory before you go shopping to avoid buying ingredients you already have.
Produce Storage Tips
It is easy to forget about fruits and vegetables in the fridge, or to overbuy certain things only to have them spoil. You can add a few more days to the life of fruits and vegetables simply by storing them properly.
Some fruits and veggies last longer at room temperature compared to being refrigerated. Store apples, avocados, bananas, potatoes, and tomatoes outside of the fridge for optimum freshness and flavor.
Freeze or can extra fruits and vegetables. Bananas, for example, can be chopped up and frozen to be used in smoothies later!
Label contains with use by dates, and keep food that will spoil sooner closer to the front of the fridge, so you know to reach for it first.
Should you have food in excess, consider donating to a local food pantry.
Food Prep Tips
Prepping perishable foods right after you shop makes it easier to cook meals or grab snacks later in the week.
When you get home from the grocery store, cut up and store fruits and vegetables in clear storage containers so that they’re ready to go and easy to identify when you need them.
Befriend your freezer! Freezing foods extend their life and keeps them from ending up in the trash sooner. Freeze prepped and cooked food to use throughout the month.
Choose a meal during the week to be an “eat the leftovers” meal so that you can finish up any leftovers still in the fridge.
Turn vegetable scraps into veggie stock and use leftover cooked meats, beans and rice in soups and stews.
About the author: Megha Patel is a dietetic intern at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she is earning her Master’s degree in nutrition. Megha is passionate about pediatric nutrition and the importance of healthy eating at a young age, and enjoys helping parents learn about nourishing their children.