Looking for ways to reduce food waste? Not only is reducing food waste obviously good for the environment but reducing food waste at home can save you tons of money. Did you know the average American wastes 103 pounds of food per year? I was shocked when I heard that statistic and I figured there was no way my family was wasting this much on food. I started paying closer attention to what was being thrown away and I really tightened up the reins. Our family of 3 is saving over $100 a month these days by reducing our own food waste. Here’s how.
REDUCE FOOD WASTE AND SAVE MONEY
One of the best starting places to reduce food waste and save money is to make sure that you are shopping smart. When you are shopping for yourself and or your family, make sure you aren’t overbuying food, especially foods that tend to spoil faster than others, such as milk, yogurt, meat, and produce. This usually takes a little trial and error but in general, it’s better to go shopping more frequently than wasting hundreds of dollars in groceries that don’t get eaten. Don’t overbuy groceries and you’ll save tons.
PLAN MEALS & USE SIMILAR INGREDIENTS.
Another great way to reduce food waste and save money is to plan your meals before you go grocery shopping. This will give you a starting point for what you really need for the week. I like to plan my meals to use similar ingredients. For example, I might make coconut curry one night using green peppers, onions, chicken, and pineapple, and the following night make a homemade pizza and use the peppers, onions, chicken and pineapple as toppings.
You can reduce food waste at home a ton by simply not over-serving yourself and or your family. You can always go back for seconds, but tons of food gets wasted just sitting on our plates, never finished. And if you have kids, especially toddlers, you know this to be true.
SAVE OVER-SERVED FOOD
Speaking of toddlers, one of my favorite ways to save money is to reuse food that I’ve over-served. As long as it doesn’t look super gross (i.e. my kids haven’t like mashed up all their food together and made something gross) I’ll save the food right off their plates and give it to them as snacks/lunches/dinners etc for the following couple of days. This not only saves us money but it also saves me time so I don’t have to think about what to feed them.
SAVE AND EAT LEFT OVERS
In addition to saving food right off your plate, you should save your left overs and make sure they get eaten. My friend’s mom growing up gave me the idea of a “left over” night where she would serve several small courses of left overs (so round 1 might be what they had for dinner on Monday, round 2, Tuesdays left overs, etc. She would also include fun things in her rounds of servings, such as a chocolate chips, which made eating left overs crazy exciting for her kids, if you need help getting your family to eat left overs.
CHECK FOR PRODUCE RESCUE ORGANIZATIONS NEAR YOU
One of my very favorite ways to help reduce food waste and save money is to take advantage of produce rescue organizations. Here in Arizona, I get 70 pounds of produce for $12 each week. Mind blowing right? These produce rescue organizations receive produce donations from farmers, whole sale companies, and grocery stores, when it is unmarketable (usually they received too much of a certain kind of produce or it looks “ugly.” If not for produce rescue programs, this produce would literally just go to landfills. When we started using our produce rescue, we cut our grocery bill in half. Find out if there is a produce rescue near you here.
FREEZE, CAN, OR PICKLE
If you’ve over purchased something or simply have more of something than you can handle, remember to freeze it, can it, or pickle it. I personally don’t have the domestic prowess for canning or pickling, at least I haven’t tried it yet. But even I can chuck something in the freezer before it goes bad and so can you.
KEEP YOUR FRIDGE AND PANTRY CLEAN
Another simple way to reduce food waste and save money is to keep your fridge and pantry (anywhere you store food) clean and organized. It’s hard to use up what you have if you can’t really tell what you have. When you keep things organized, you are more likely to actually use the food you’ve purchased. If you struggle with keeping things organized, it helps if everything has a place. In the fridge, there should be a designated place for fruits, a designated place for dairy, a designated place for vegetables, etc. In the pantry, have a designated place for each of our staples, whatever they might be– bread, noodles, cereal, snacks, etc.
If you prepare your food not long after buying it, you are much more likely to eat it. Wash and chop fruits and vegetables to store them in the fridge, that way you’ll be more likely to reach for them when you need a snack. In addition, prepare meals after hitting the grocery store. This will not only reduce your food waste but will also help you actually eat the meals you planned, instead of falling into the trap of hitting up fast food during the week because you’re too tired too cook after a long day (we’ve all been there).
GIVE AWAY WHAT YOU DON’T NEED
Another super easy way to reduce food waste is to give away food that you know is going to go bad before you can eat it. It’s not a waste if someone else can enjoy it, but it is a total waste if it just rots in your fridge.
SHARE THE COST
If you need to buy something that you know you won’t be able to finish, ask friends or family if they will buy it with you and split the cost. This happens to me frequently with Costco’s milk. I like to buy it there because it’s so much cheaper than the grocery store, but it’s hard for my little family to drink 2 gallons before it goes bad. So, we’ll usually split the cost with another family. [Related: Things You SHOULD Buy At Costco]
SHARE MEALS AT RESTAURANTS
One of my favorite ways to reduce food waste and save money is to share meals when we go out to restaurants. Most restaurants portions are out of control and really made for two anyway. I’ve found that it’s better for us to share a meal than to take the left overs home– they just don’t get eaten in our fridge.
There are plenty of ways you can reduce food waste and save money. Even if you only implement one of the above ways, you’ll be well on your way to saving money and reducing food waste.
What are some of your favorite ways to reduce food waste and save money? Comment below!
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