I hate wasting food; it bothers me so much to throw away food that I have either forgotten at the back of the fridge or simply did not use it in time before it goes off. I've put together some practical Ways To Stop Food Waste and Save Money.
Not only is it unbelievably tragic, but it’s also a complete waste of money, you might as well flush a twenty, it’s the same thing.
Over the years I have learned and put into practice a few simple things that have helped me immensely in cutting back on the volume of food I throw out with an added bonus, of saving me some green ($$) in the process.
10 practical ways to stop food waste and save money!
Understanding food labels
Regularly check these dates on foods that are most costly (meat, fish) will help to reduce food waste, I have found that if I know the “use by date’ I am more likely to use it faster rather than leaving it sitting in the back of the fridge. If you buy something and realize you probably won’t get to cook it, put it in the freezer, this happens to me all the time with fish. If you are buying larger bags of fish and chicken, divvy them up into individual portions as soon as you get home from the grocery store, and freeze them, don’t wait to do this. It’s an important step in reducing food waste.
Also, do not get hung up on those "best before" dates. In most cases, these dates are guides for the stores, not the consumer.
Best before date simply means that the food is the freshest before this date, it's not an expiry date, most think it is and as a result, we end up tossing out perfectly good food. You can eat food after the best before date. I always tell people to use their noses. If it smells bad, it's time to go!
Use by date is an expiration date. And the sell-by date is strictly a guide for the store to know when to remove their foods. This is not an expiration date.
Stock up to stop food waste
I like to keep my freezer and pantry stocked with foods that don’t have short “best before” dates. I shop at Bulk Barn for things like rice, pasta, and quinoa. For smoothies, I keep frozen fruits and veggies on hand and have a stock of frozen fish and chicken too (freezing meat without plastic is easier thank you think!) Having a well-stock pantry and freezer lets you whip up something healthy quickly.
For example, you may have a few old tomatoes hanging about in your fridge, you can make a really nice homemade pasta sauce, add it to some pasta and even throw some chicken and frozen veggies into the mix, just don’t forget to take it out of the freezer before you leave for work.
Fresh food, in most cases, is better than frozen, but if you want to eat in season and are trying to be mindful of food miles, shopping seasonally and freezing those foods is a great way to start.
A word of advice about buying bulk at a place like Costco, make sure you know you will get to it! We tend to buy more stuff we do not need at shops like this, so be mindful of that!
Prior planning prevents poor performance
My dad taught me this and boy was he right! If you want to cut down on food waste, you need to plan out your meals; it’s also probably one of the MOST effective ways to save money. On Sunday’s before visiting the farmers market or grocery shop, I think about what I want to cook the following week, I have a selection of go-to meals that I can choose from and ones I know my hubby loves. We both work full time, so I am always looking for recipes that are healthy, and easy to make, I will be sharing some of my fav’s over the next few months.
Once you have a clear idea of what you are going to cook, check the fridge and freezer to see what you actually need. Then make a list, this ensures you only buy what you need and you are not buying things you may already have.
MAKE A LIST! and stick to it! Oh and don't shop hungry! LOL! And before you head out the door, shop your fridge and freezer first. I guarantee you will find foods you can still eat.
And I don’t mean for weight loss. Cook enough food and maybe a little extra for leftovers, oftentimes we tend to make too much and it ends up being tossed out. You can use a food portion calculator like this one to help and read the cooking instructions as well. Put those leftovers to good use, if you roast a chicken, keep the water at the bottom as chicken stock, make a yummy chicken and mayo sandwich the next day, and use the carcass to make an amazing bone broth, think outside the box and google “leftovers”, there are so many great resources online to help you.
Proper storage is key to stop food waste
There are a ton of really good, sustainable products on the market that will help keep your food fresh longer. Beeswax wraps are a great place to start and these plastic-free storage solutions will help you to significantly reduce the amount of food you are throwing away. You can also try reducing the space in your fridge by removing a shelf, less space means less food you have to store which means you will have to shop for less food, it all comes down to shopping for only what you need.
Aiming for a zero-waste kitchen includes composting your food scraps. Did you know there are over 100 things you can compost at home? How you get rid of your food waste matters! When food ends up in the garbage it creates methane gas which is a major contributor to climate change. The more we can save our food the better. If you are using trash bags for your compost bin, best to choose the most environmentally friendly one. And don't forget, these things cannot be composted at home!
Conduct a garbage audit
A DIY garbage audit is one of the best things you can do! You basically get to see firsthand the kind of trash you are creating and learn ways where you can reduce it! It's really simple and very powerful.
Shop weekly or more often
I used to shop once a week and I noticed some foods like mushrooms and spinach would not last. I've found the time to do it twice a week. I realize this might not work for everyone, it's why meal planning is too important.
Ugly is beautiful
Did you know that grocery stores throw away foods that look ugly, bruised etc? This infuriates me. but, a lot of places are starting to offer ugly produce at a discounted price, do not be fair to but this a bruised banana is just as good!
- Here are a few of my fav food hacks:
- When it comes to leftovers! Use up that last bit of yogurt for smoothies or cereal toppings.
- Keep fresh herbs fresh longer. Simply wash, pat dry, and store in tightly closed jars in the fridge. Jars seem to help them keep longer and cut down on plastic waste at the same time.
- Steep fruit peels, like apple and orange, in hot water for a simple homemade tea. Stir in a little honey for a delicious, warm drink.
- Peel your garlic and put it in a jar of oil in the fridge to preserve it for much longer!
- Don't store your eggs on the fridge door because it's the warmest part of the fridge. Store it on one of the middle or top shelves instead
- Freeze reduced near 'sell-by date' sliced bread, and only thaw as many slices as you need at a time.
Final thoughts on how to stop food waste and save money!
I hope you found some value in this post. I've been putting these tips into practice for the good part of 20 years and have made a ton of mistakes along the way. Reducing food waste is just one part of running an eco-friendly kitchen. I also want you to consider the types of cleaning products you use and what are you cooking with? Are your pots and pans non-toxic? And to save even more money try these energy-saving cooking tips!
How do you save food at home?
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