7 Ways to Minimize Food Waste
It’s always important to make the most of your groceries – especially at a time when the prices of so many foods are soaring. There’s nothing worse than the feeling of buying something special, forgetting it at back of your fridge and finding it wilted or rotting a week later. There are so many great ways to save money on groceries that will also help you keep a cleaner kitchen and fridge, and help reduce the amount of food wasted through spoilage. We’ve compiled a list of food-saving tips that’ll not only save you money, but also time in the kitchen.
- Meal planning and grocery lists are, as always, a great way to start. But thanks to the proliferation of smart phones, it’s also easy to keep a “Master List” on your phone’s “Notes” app (or a similar one) of what’s in your pantry and freezer to avoid buying multiple items. This especially helps if you’re the type get wrapped up in trying new recipes, and go out to buy every ingredient on the list, only to come home and find you’ve spent money on doubles of things you already had. When you’re almost out of something or suspect that the quarter-full bag of quinoa hanging around won’t be enough for a meal, make an asterisk next to it’s entry on the note.
- It’s been called the “Money Saving Food Tip No One is Talking About” but we think everyone should try it. Create an “Eat Me First” bin and place it in your fridge in order to make sure no produce goes to waste. Fill it with items that look like they should be eaten first – wilting greens, fruit with small bruises, bananas that are getting their first brown spots – to ensure that you’re not throwing them in the compost bin a few days later.
- After the 3 R’s (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle) come the 3 S’s – Soups, Salads, and Smoothies! They’re all great ways to get rid of the bits of produce hanging around that might go bad soon. That bruised apple might get some extra life if you cut around the bruise and throw it into your next chopped salad, and limp celery and carrots can get a second chance when thrown into a pot with some stock. And almost any fruit or vegetable can be thrown in the blender with some ice and almond milk to make an amazing smoothie.
- Buy big, buy small – the way many items are bundled and sold at the grocery store vary greatly from product to product. While it’s easy to buy 1 or 2 tomatoes, other things seem to only come in gargantuan sizes (we’re looking at you, giant bunch of Italian parsley). Be aware of how much of certain kinds of produce you tend to use – does your family go through a head of broccoli in one meal, or one week? Try to buy prudently in order to avoid waste. One instance where buying big can save you money is for pantry items. PRANA’s 1kg formats of nuts, dried fruits, snack mixes, and dry ingredients are all great options that can cost no more than a few pennies per serving. Keep them cool and dry and they’ll last forever!
- Know your fridge and pantry. Temperature is distributed unevenly throughout most fridges, but you can make it work to your advantage. The middle of the fridge is usually the coldest, while the door is the warmest - that’s why it’s best for condiments and drinks. Try and use your crisper bins to separate produce that requires high humidity (anything that will wilt, most vegetables) or low humidity (fruits, which produce more ethylene). If you have an herb keeper, and multiple herbs, use it for more delicate herbs that tend to go bad faster, like dill or cilantro. In the winter, take note if your pantry or cupboards share walls with rooms with high heat or baseboard heaters. The temperature in your cupboards can rise, affecting the texture and taste of nut butters and crunchy snack foods.
- The idea of a sharing economy doesn’t just apply to car services and apartment rentals. If you’re frequently only cooking for 1-2 people, go grocery shopping with a friend and split the cost of expensive items to divvy them up after. Quite often, you won’t need that whole bag of flour, or entire bunch of cilantro. As mentioned earlier, buying dry items in bulk saves money, but splitting bulk items with a friend saves both money and space in your cupboards!
- Freezing leftovers is a common method for making food stretch, but by the third or fourth time you bring that leftover chili to work for lunch you might be more tempted to throw it out and waste money by going out for lunch. Start networking with a group of friends to make trades of frozen prepared foods. Before long, you’ll each have a freezer full of meals you’ll be excited to reach for when you need a quick lunch or dinner. You can also take it one step further by trading away food that you bought that you didn’t like or ingredients that you don’t use frequently enough.
It might seem daunting to take the extra steps to reduce food waste in your household, but we promise it’s better than hauling out giant trash bags on garbage day, and you’ll notice the difference in your bank account almost immediately! All it takes is a few small changes to our everyday routines to cut down on food waste, which in turn saves us time, money, and even reduces greenhouse gases. What’s not to like?
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