It's one of the biggest sustainability issues we face today.
40% of food available for human consumption is lost or wasted. That's like ordering a large pizza and throwing out 4 slices—pizza is even better the day after!!!
Think about the amount of resources wasted and pollution created to produce literal waste for the landfill.
You can make a difference though!
Here are 15 easy peasy tips that will save you money, time, and food.
How to Reduce Food Waste: 15 Tips
|2.||Wilting Vegetables Hack|
|3.||How to Read Expiration Dates|
|4.||Make Soup Stock Not Food Waste|
|10.||Soup Too Salty?|
|11.||The Freezer & Frozen Food|
|12.||Pack Your Lunch|
|13.||How to Dehydrate|
|14.||Buying Foods in Bulk|
Keep It Simple
1. Fridge Organization
First off, you need to rethink your fridge organization. There are specific spots that you should put different food in your fridge in order to keep it fresh for longer.
The top shelf is the warmest shelf so it's best for leftovers, drinks, ready-to-eat foods, berries and herbs.
The middle shelf is best for storing things like milk, eggs and dairy.
The bottom shelf is the coldest shelf so you're going to want to put things that tend to go bad the fastest here - like raw poultry and meat.
High Humidity Drawer
The high humidity drawer will keep things like vegetables and leafy greens crisp. Think about things that wilt—those will go in this drawer.
Low Humidity Drawer
The low humidity drawer is best for produce that goes bad the quickest like avocados, apples and pears.
The door is the warmest part of the fridge so it's best for sauces and condiments (A.K.A. products that last longer and don't need to be very cold).
2. Wilting Vegetables Hack
You were only at the grocery store a few days ago but somehow you open your produce drawer to find wilted lettuce that's sad and saggy already.
No worries, here's an easy hack to save that wilted lettuce and help with your food waste reduction.
Just pop your vegetable in some ice water for 5-10 minutes.
This quick soak can be enough to revive them!
If this hack doesn't work for you, wilted vegetables still taste great in cooked dishes!
3. How to Read Expiration Dates
Is there a difference between best before dates and expiry dates? Can food still be eaten after these dates? Most people don't know how to read expiration dates. Yet, how you treat these dates can have a huge effect on how much food you throw away. So let's get into it.
Best Before Dates:
- this is talking about food quality
- before this date your food will be at peak freshness, taste, and nutritional value
- this date only applies to unopened food
- the best before date is not related to the safety of eating the food... meaning after this date the food may not be at its best in terms of food quality but is most likely still safe to eat
- same as 'use by'
- you'll only find expiry dates on certain products like meal replacements, infant formula, and nutritional supplements
- this date is related to strict nutritional properties and safety
- DO NOT eat food that's passed its expiry date
- you should throw away food that's passed its expiry date.
4. Make Soup Stock Not Food Waste
Keeping food scraps—like vegetable peels—to make soup stock is a great way to use up normally wasted food!
Just stick the food scraps in the freezer and boil them when you're ready. The resulting soup stock can be eaten immediately or can be frozen for later.
Bonus tip: to avoid using a ziploc bag, store your food scraps in a reusable container, jar or rü.
5. Lonely Leftovers
Did you know? Uneaten leftover food that's gone bad accounts for over 25% of the total waste discarded from a household.
Here are a few ways to show your leftover food some love:
- Eat them: try to refrain from making or buying anything new until you've finished what you've already bought or made.
- Freeze them: if you're getting sick of leftovers or you don't think you'll eat them before they go bad - just toss them in the freezer for another day!
- Repurpose them: get creative! Many leftovers can taste brand new if made into a soup or a stir fry.
6. Grocery Shopping
The grocery store is at the root of most household food waste and money waste. So here are a few tips to help know what to buy when grocery shopping:
- Check what you have before you go shopping — I know this seems like a no brainer but it makes a big difference if you avoid unnecessary buys and know what to buy when grocery shopping.
- A good habit to get into is having an ongoing master grocery list that you add to when you run out of something. That way you'll never have to think twice about whether you need to re-buy a staple or not.
- Build meals around what you already have and need to use up.
- Plan meals ahead of time so you know what to buy for groceries and you only buy what you'll actually use.
- If you don't have time to make a grocery list before, quickly snap a picture of your fridge and pantry so that once you get to the store you have a better idea of what you already have.
7. Burnt Food
You started cooking dinner and got distracted—maybe you went to another room, started scrolling on your phone and just forgot. But all of a sudden your favourite sound track is on... the fire alarm.
So now what? Order takeout? Crunch bravely through the 'burnt to a crisp' chunks? Toss it?
Nope! Instead try this burnt food trick (it works best for burnt stews or beans):
- Remove it from heat and scoop the non burnt parts into a new pot
- Cover it with a damp cloth for 10 minutes—this will get most of the burned flavour out
- If it still tastes burnt try adding BBQ sauce, sweet chili or hot sauce until edible.
8. Meal Planning
It's completely normal to feel like meal planning is overwhelming and unrealistic. But if done right, meal planning is a powerful tool that simplifies planning, shopping and cooking for meals.
Imagine how good it would feel to ask yourself "what's for dinner?" once a week instead of once a day.
Why should you give meal planning a try?
- You reduce food waste
- You save money
- You save time
- You avoid the dinner-time panic of what to make
9. Community Fridge
A community fridge or 'freedge' is a fridge in public spaces that allow food sharing in the community.
Those who are able, can add to the fridge so others can take from the fridge!
With the increase in food insecurity and the increased pressure placed on any given food bank or food pantry, community fridges have popped up in many cities.
These initiatives help bridge a gap between food insecurity and food waste.
Whether you buy specifically to add to these fridges or you pull from your own food pantry or fridge for things that you won't use before it goes bad — you are making a valuable donation.
To find out if there's any near you, just search: "[your city] community fridge" or "community fridge near me".
10. Soup Too Salty?
NOOOO after hours in the kitchen—the lid was looser than you thought and a mountain of salt has fallen into your soup.
Do you throw it out? Suck it up and eat your body weight in sodium? No need.
Here are some tricks for soup that has too much salt:
- Add vinegar, lemon juice or brown sugar
- Dilute with water, crushed tomatoes or unsalted broth
- Add a raw, peeled potato into the soup and remove before serving. It will absorb the salt and can then be combined with another boiled potato to make a mashed potato dish that doesn't have too much salt
11. The Freezer & Frozen Food
Freezing food is a lifesaver!
Did you know?
You can freeze food right up until and including the best before date! So if it gets down to the day and you're not sure you'll use it, turn it into frozen food to save it for another day.
It's that easy!
12. Pack Your Lunch
What's the easiest way to reduce food waste on the go? Pack! Your! Lunch! And - even though your rü lunch bag has you covered - it would be a good idea to invest in some high quality lunch containers that stop leaks.
- Reduces food waste
- Reduces single use plastics
- And saves you money
I know eating out at lunch time may seem like the easiest option when life gets busy... but try to pack lunch – even just 1 more day a week than you usually do. It will make a difference!
13. How to Dehydrate
Dehydrating is a delicious way to use up fruits and vegetables that are almost donezo!
It doesn't take anything fancy to learn how to dry fruits and vegetables.
Just pop your thinly sliced, ripe or slightly too ripe produce in the oven on low heat until they're dry and chewy or really dry and crispy. And voila! A tasty snack and a second chance at life for your produce that would have otherwise been on their death bed.
14. Buying Foods in Bulk
Is buying food in bulk all it's cracked up to be? This is a tricky question.
Buying foods in bulk can be:
- A great deal and money saver
- Great for reducing waste from packaging and travel
- Great for stocking up on essentials and non perishables
BUT if you won't use it all up - ever or before it goes bad - then it is a waste of food and money.
So is buying food in bulk a no brainer? No. It's important to always think hard about what you're buying and its shelf life before you jump in.
15. Keep It Simple
The final tip! You made it! To wrap this up, here's an easy peasy rule of thumb for food waste reduction:
Use it up > Compost > Landfill
Food waste is a big problem to tackle, so don't over complicate it and just try your best!
You've made it through all these food waste reduction tips and that's HUGE. You've taken a very big step in learning how to reduce food waste and for that you deserve a big pat on the back.
You may be thinking - "all I did was read one blog post why are you so proud of me?".
Let me explain:
Food waste is a massive problem!
That's one of the reasons learning and talking about food waste reduction is so important.
As a collective, we are powerful. If we all make choices to reduce our individual food waste, we will have an impact.
Making changes to routine can be tough - so thank you for sticking with it and being open to learning and trying your best.
Leave a comment below when you try one of these tips or to share your own food waste reduction tip!