1. Buy Only What You Need
The best way to reduce food waste is to not have any food to waste. There are several ways to do this.
Firstly, refrain from buying in bulk—as much as possible, try and go to the grocery store every few days. This way, all the ingredients you use will be fresh and healthy.
Secondly, make a list or a meal plan. If you plan out what you want to eat every day of the week, you only buy things you know you’re going to use up, leading to less food wastage.
Lastly, don’t go grocery shopping if you know you still have too much food at home. Try and use all of your resources first before heading to the store again.
2. Know How to Store Food
A lot of people buy foods willy-nilly without knowing how to properly store them.
For example, potatoes and garlic should never be stored in the fridge as the cool temperatures can change the way they taste. Avocados and tofu brown really easily, so it’s better to submerge them in water before storing them in the fridge so they won’t turn brown. Another cool tip is that some foods actually encourage other foods to ripen by producing ethylene gas—keep your bananas away from the rest of your fruit!
When it comes to storing food, Google is your friend. There are lots of storing tips and tricks from foodies.
3. Don’t Be Picky
Don’t judge a book by its cover! While some foods might look prettier than others, they’ll taste just the same or even better than all the others. Don’t forget that many big corporations often inject a lot of additives and preservatives into their products to make them look picture-perfect.
One notable experience I had was eating a banana in London. It looked the very definition of a perfect banana—long, smooth, and a delightful yellow. However, I might as well have been biting into cardboard—looks can be deceiving.
So, the next time you’re picking something at a grocery store, don’t be picky. As long as it doesn’t smell, feel, or look funky, then it’ll probably taste just as good and is as healthy.
4. Empty the Fridge Regularly
It’s easy for things to get lost in your fridge. While a well-stocked fridge might look pretty, things can go bad in the back if you’re not careful!
The best way to prevent this from happening is to rearrange your fridge every time you come back from the grocery store. Instead of adding new products to the front like most people are wont to do, take the old ones out, put the new ones in, then put the old ones back. This way, you’re using the products you need to use up first.
5. Save the Skin and Peels
Did you know that many nutrients in fruits and vegetables are found in their skin? A lot of them are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that would do wonders for your body. In fact, many dieticians recommend keeping the skin on things like apples, cucumbers, potatoes, carrots, and more as they’re super healthy.
You can use peels that aren’t edible like pineapples, avocados, and oranges for homemade skincare products, cleaning agents, or zest.
6. Blend It
Now, as someone who’s pretty picky about the texture of food, I know what it’s like to not want to eat fruits and vegetables that aren’t as fresh anymore. The thought of eating an apple that’s not as crunchy anymore or a banana that has too many brown sports for my liking just isn’t appetizing for me.
However, that doesn’t mean I let it go to waste! Blending fruits into a nice smoothie is an awesome way of masking that uncomfortable texture and turning it into a refreshing drink.
And, it doesn’t have to be smoothies either—it could be soup! I’ve done that before with onions and squash and made a delicious, hearty soup. Blending veggies is also great for those with picky eaters—your kids would never know there are veggies hidden in their meals if they can’t see it!
7. Whip Up Stocks
Stocks are an awesome way to reduce food waste by using up inedible things like bones, stalks, tops, and peels to create a homemade broth. You can then use this broth for things like marinades, cooking liquids, and soups.
8. Understand Expiration Dates
There’s a lot of confusion when it comes to expiration dates mostly because there are so many varieties of it. While some packages say “best by,” other ones say “sell by”, “packed on”, “quality assurance date”, and a bunch of other mumbo-jumbo. It’s important to understand expiry dates as a lot of perfectly-fine food gets thrown out because of it!
For example, “quality assurance date” doesn’t mean a product is expired after the date. It just means that it’s not as high-quality as it should be. “Sell by” isn’t even meant for customers—it’s something supermarkets look at to prevent selling low-quality goods.
Generally, “use by” is the best phrase to look out for, though foods can still be edible even past the date.
9. Be Generous
If you notice you’ve got a ton of food around your house that’s set to expire, then you might want to reduce food waste by using it all up and giving away the excess to your loved ones. After all, sharing is caring, right?
For example, if you’ve got a bunch of carrots you need to use up, why not bake a carrot cake and share it with your coworkers? Not only do you use up the remaining carrots, but you can also win the coolest employee of the month. Score!
10. Utilize the Freezer
Freezers prolong the lifespan of your fruits, vegetables, and meats. If stored properly, it can last for months and even years! Use frozen fruits and veggies for easy smoothie-making or freeze ready-made meals so you can just pop them into the microwave for a quick dinner.