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Avoid Food Waste By Following These Simple Guidelines

A variety of fermented vegetables in glass bottles on a kitchen counter.
Megan Betteridge/Shutterstock.com

From stock checks to finding foods that flow, learn about the ways you can decrease the number of fresh foods that end up in the trash bin.

Ever purge through the fridge to find gross fuzzies, and crusty condiments piled up from last summer? Hey, it happens, but we’re here to tell you there are several ways to prevent food waste and save money.

Keep Tabs on Your Fridge and Pantry

Putting an end to wasting food all starts with a weekly fridge and pantry stock check.

Before planning your meals for the week, take a look at some of the foods you already have. Use up that half pound of green beans for a side dish before they turn slimy. Plan on using up that box of pasta and make a cream-based sauce before that half-and-half spoils, too.

Do a stock check once per week, before perusing your recipe book. Use up foods you already have and create meals using those foods, and be sure to jot down notes along the way.

PRAKI Airtight Food Storage Containers Set with Lids

Make you stock easier to monitor with clear storage.

Store Food Correctly

It’s important to know which fresh foods belong in the fridge, and which do better stored elsewhere. Some foods (like apples) emit ethylene gas which can ripen other foods faster. So you might be storing the wrong fruits and veggies together and unintentionally, causing them to spoil more quickly.

While you are in your fridge, check the temperature. Be sure it’s 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. A simple appliance thermometer will do the trick and ensure that your food is stored safely. Your freezer should read zero degrees Fahrenheit.

Wrenwane Digital Refrigerator Freezer Room Thermometer

Store food at the optimal temperature.

Look Through Your Recipes


Now it’s time to take a gander at some of your favorite recipes and find ways to incorporate those foods you’ve taken note of.

If you still have an avocado from last week, you’re eating tacos, quesadillas, or nachos this week. If you’ve found a half-pound of fresh spinach, throw it in a casserole, on a pizza, or in a soup. If you have overly ripe bananas, it’s time to get baking- we all love a slice of tasty banana bread.

Life & Apples Weekly Meal Planner with Grocery List, Recipe Pages and Budget

Meal plan, budget, and organize shopping lists all in one place.

If you aren’t sure how to use certain ingredients, remember the internet is your friend. Look up “recipe using this ingredient,” and you’ll have a plethora of ideas before you.

Before running out to the store, you should thoroughly plan out your meals. In our busy lives, we understand sometimes it’s easier said than done. If it helps, think of these extra foods you already have as bonus coupons and money saved on this week’s groceries.

Find Foods That Flow to Create Your Menu

Another way to save food and money is by thinking about foods that work across several meals. Ask yourself this one question: “How can I make five meals this week, using these 10-15 fresh ingredients?”

For example, if you plan on making a roast chicken for dinner, with cooked carrots and Brussels sprouts, plan on keeping the chicken carcass for stock. Use up those leftover veggies and chicken pieces to make a flavorful chicken vegetable soup.

Leftover veggies transform well into vegetable quiche and casseroles are a great way to use up additional ingredients as well.

Rubbermaid Brilliance Glass Storage

Be sure you store those leftovers correctly.

Write Up a Grocery List and Check It Twice

A wire basket is filled with fruits, vegetables, milk, and other groceries.

Now that you have recipes and a menu figured out, grab a piece of paper and write that list. Take your time and write the ingredients one meal at a time.

Keep in mind that you are making meals that flow and using up foods you already have. You can break it down by asking yourself:

  • Which foods do I already have and plan to use?
  • Which foods am I planning to use across several meals?
  • Which ingredients do I need to purchase?

Your grocery list may look shorter than usual, and that means you are following through. Be sure to check it twice, to avoid unnecessary future trips to the store.

Reusable Grocery Bags

Don't forget your grocery bags!

Shop On a Full Stomach and Stick to Your List

You’ve heard it before, but we’re here to remind you that grocery shopping is a task that you should always accomplish on a full stomach.

When you go to the supermarket hungry, everything starts to look tasty, which causes you to purchase unnecessary foods. Unfortunately, this tends to lead to the purchase of unhealthy foods you don’t need and goes against all your hard work thus far.

Stick to your list, and purchase all those nutrient-dense foods that you consciously added. You worked hard to make this list, so do your best to stick with it.

If you’re looking to save money on food, reducing food waste is one way to do it. From using ingredients over multiple meals to strategizing your grocery list, these tips should help you save some cash.

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »
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