A zero waste food household would be ideal, but we know that is not as easy as it sounds. However, you can make a few simple changes in order to reduce your household food waste and cut down on your monthly food budget as well. I, too, have been guilty of buying food that eventually ends up in the garbage, i.e. food waste. Here are few ways to cut down on food waste that will make you, the planet and your wallet happy! Look no further for clever ways to use up all the food you buy and stopping your household food waste.
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- Shop smart and be realistic:
Buy what you need. If you need a few carrots, onions or lemons for a recipe buy them loose and not in a bag. If you live alone and are cooking for 1-2 people only buy the amount you will eat before the food spoils.
- Be mindful of your greens: Leafy greens are delicate. They wilt before you can even think about eating them. They are always the first thing to be tossed into the trash. My mom shared this AMAZING food storage bin with me and now the rest of my family and friends have it, too. It really does let your greens or salad last for over a full week! The secret is the perforated green bottom that lets the extra water drip down and aerate the veggies. Genius!
3. Refrigerator race: Eat food in your fridge on a first in first out basis. When unpacking groceries, move older products to the front of the fridge/freezer/pantry and put new products in the back. This way, you’re more likely to use up the older stuff before it expires.
4. Expiration dates?: Expiration dates refer to quality and freshness of food, not safety. If stored properly, most foods stay fresh for days past the expiration date. If a food looks, smells, and tastes okay, it should be fine. Often times food is still safe after the date has passed. Seriously.
5. Use it up: Get into the habit of making a regular check of your refrigerator and use up those leftovers. Designate one dinner each week as a “use-it-up” meal. Instead of cooking a new meal, look around in the cupboards and fridge for leftovers and other food that might otherwise get overlooked. Search the internet or your favorite cookbooks for a new recipe that you can throw your leftovers into. Think soup, stews, tacos, smoothies, sandwiches… Let’s get creative! If you need some guidance you can always refer to Dana Gunders, Waste-Free Kitchen Handbook: A Guide to Eating Well and Saving Money By Wasting Less Food
6. Freeze your herbs: Have you ever used the whole amount of rosemary or thyme that you bought for a recipe? Give those unused but valuable herbs a new life. Freeze them in an ice cube tray and use them in future recipes.
7. Avocado advice: How to keep an avocado from turning brown. Faith over at The Kitchen has found a way for it to last longer and it works. Finally! This has raised my avocado game up a level. I no longer have to feel guilty about losing some of these little green gems.
8. Use it all: If you go to the trouble of trimming stems and tops, you might as well use them. When cooking, use every piece of whatever food you’re cooking with, whenever possible. For example, leave the skin on cucumbers and potatoes, sauté broccoli stems along with the florets. Bonus: Broccoli stems, though not as colorful nor flavorful as their more desired florets, are just as nutritious. Actually, gram for gram, the stems contain slightly more calcium, iron and Vitamin C.
9. Biofuel: Make that campfire burn brighter! The next time you build a fire, consider adding some animal bones in with the firewood. Recent experiments on bone combustion have revealed that a fire composed of 50% wood and 50% bones burns brighter and longer than those layered with firewood alone. And as with wood ash, the cremains from bone burning can be collected and worked into your garden’s soil to boost calcium and phosphorous content. Source: natural living ideas
10. Master your freezer:
Freeze half used foods: A lot of time when you are cooking you will have a half an onion. You can freeze it and use it later for soup, sauces and dressings.
Freeze bread: We buy a loaf of bread but only want to eat part of it. In order to retain the freshness you can cut it into pieces and freeze it. When you want some fresh bread or rolls you just have to thaw it and enjoy! Save the heels of bread and use as buns or make croutons.
Freeze overripe bananas in the skin! I let my bananas get really ripe and stash them in the freezer. They are perfect for smoothies, breads and cakes.
11. Pickle it: Both fruits and vegetables can be preserved through an easy pickling process. You can save the pickle juice from a jar of pickles and add your food scraps that can be pickled. Try some watermelon rinds or . Here is a tip from Laughing lemon pie, “You can chop up the green part of melon rinds (between the sweet flesh and the hard, outer shell) and use it in place of cucumbers in salads. Or pickle it!”
12. Compost: Hate potato skins? Don’t feel like turning wilted vegetables into soup stock? No worries; food scraps don’t need to be tossed. Just start a compost pile in the backyard or even under the sink in a compost pail, and convert food waste into a useful resource. Pour some baking soda on top to reduce stinky food smells!
You might also like this post about saving money on groceries every week.
Do you have any uniques ways to reduce food waste at home? Please comment and share with us!