5 Ways to Minimize Food Waste and Save Money
If you feel like you end up throwing away more food than you eat, you’re not alone. Worldwide, more than one-third of all food produced ends up spoiled or thrown away. As Americans, we throw away as much as 40% of the food we buy. This ultimately ends up in landfills, producing methane emissions, which contribute to climate change — yikes! So not only is wasting food bad for your budget, it’s not great for the planet, either. Try these ideas to help you minimize food waste and save money.
Plan Your Meals & Shop Carefully
Walking into the grocery store without a plan is guaranteed to end with wasted food down the road. Plan your meals and shop for exactly what you need, in the quantities you need it, rather than stocking up or buying in bulk. You will probably end up shopping more often, but you’ll be surprised how doing so helps you minimize food waste.
Keep Your Pantry & Refrigerator Organized
Messy cupboards and an overstuffed fridge lead to wasted food, not to mention the time you waste trying to find what you need. Keep your food storage areas neat and clean, so you always know what you have on-hand and can easily make a list of what you need shop for. When you bring new food home, be sure to rotate and bring older items to the front so you can use them before they go bad.
Learn to Store Produce Correctly
If you always buy fresh fruits and vegetables with good intentions, only to have them wind up a pile of mush in the produce drawer, you may be storing them incorrectly. Not all fruits and vegetables need to be refrigerated when you first bring them home. For example, bananas will last longer and taste better when stored at room temperature until they are fully ripe. At that point, they can be placed in the fridge for a few days. After that, if you still have some left, freeze them. The peels will turn black but the banana inside is still perfect for smoothies. If you’re not sure how to store your fruits and veggies, ask the produce manager at your grocery store for tips.
Serve Smaller Portions
Huge restaurant portions have skewed our idea of correct portion sizes, which leads to food waste. Start serving smaller portion sizes to avoid leaving food on the plate at the end of the meal. It’s better to go back for seconds than to scrape half your plate in the trash because you couldn’t finish. Hint: Use smaller plates to make the transition to smaller portions less noticeable.
Learn to Love Leftovers
Don’t let leftovers go to waste. When stored and reheated correctly, they’re often just as good — or better — than they were the first time around. The key is making sure leftovers are stored in airtight containers and reheated on the stovetop or in the toaster oven, rather than zapping in the microwave. It’s an easy way to preserve the food’s original flavors and textures.