10 Tips for Reducing Food Waste

According to the USDA, the United States wastes approximately 90 billion pounds of food each year.  Food goes to waste due to lack of storage on a farm, not being sold by the “sell by” date, rotting in the back of a fridge, or simply being tossed away when it could be saved for a future meal.  It is no longer just farm to fork.  It’s farm to fork to landfill.  The amount of food lost represents about $370 for every man, woman, and child per year.  That’s money I would like to keep in my pocket.  Below are some tips to help you reduce food waste and save some money!

  1. Keep a list of all of the foods you throw away.

    You’ll notice patterns and it will help you shop smarter.

  2. Make an eat-right-away shelf in your fridge.

    Move items that might otherwise be lost in the depths of the fridge front and center, you are more likely to use what you see.  Better yet, at the end of the week, use anything on your shelf to make a soup or stew.

  3. Check the fridge before you go to the store.  Every. Single. Time.

    Do you really need another bag of lettuce?  Primal eaters depend less on pantry items, but they too can go bad, so check that before heading out as well.

  4. Adopt a first-in-first-out system for vegetables.

    Always eat the oldest vegetables first.


  5. Save vegetable scraps in a freezer bag for stock.

    You’ve probably heard this one before, but it’s worth repeating.  Save the ugly parts you cut off of veggienything works, and will impart flavor and nutrients into your next batch of stock.  Why buy pretty fresh vegetables if you are just going to simmer them all day?

  6.  Re-purpose the leftovers.

    Find creative ways to use leftovers.  Shred broccoli stems for use in a slaw.  Add herb stems to pesto.  Blend overripe fruit into your next smoothie.  Pickling extends the life of cucumbers, radishes, onions or any other vegetable!  When in doubt, freeze for later.


  7. Store foods properly.

    Did you know that if you wrap celery in tin foil it lasts two to three times longer in the fridge compared to leaving it unwrapped?  Roll washed lettuces and herbs with a paper towel and place in a food storage bag.  Store nuts and seeds in the freezer.

  8. Understand sell by and use by dates.

    “Sell by” and “use by” dates were developed in the 1970’s when people started to rely more on store bought and processed foods than foods made in their own home.  They are intended as a guideline to specify the time where a product will pass peak freshness.  It does not dictate whether a food is safe to eat or not.  Further, with the exception of baby formula, product dating is not required by federal regulations.  Check out this page for more from the USDA.  It is best to rely on your own senses and some additional internet research to determine if a food is fit to eat.


  9.  Compost.

    If you live in an area where it’s possible, compost what you can.  If you have a garden, great.  If you don’t, look up a local co-op garden, they would probably appreciate the free fertilizer!


  10. Eat out responsibly.

    Reducing food waste doesn’t only apply to home cooked meals.  Restaurant portions have grown out of control, and most of the time, one plate could be 2-3 meals for most people.  Ask if they have a smaller portion, which might even be cheaper.  Split a meal with your dining companion.  Take leftovers home and repurpose them.  Leftover sweet potato fries might not be good as fries, but they can be chopped up in your morning hash.  Same with leftover meats, put an egg on it and call it breakfast!

Do you have any tips for reducing food waste?  What works in your kitchen?  Share with us!


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