I would be lying if I said I wasn’t guilty of wasting food every once in awhile. I’ll pack my grocery cart full of food and come back to my apartment and put everything away.
But there will be some food items that I’ll tuck into a drawer or throw in the back of my pantry and completely forget about. Then, fast forward a few months when I finally remember what I bought, and by then, it’s too late.
I have to toss what was once perfectly good food right into the trash. I’m determined to stop wasting food (and the money in my wallet), so I’ve discovered a few tips that can help me, and you, eliminate food waste.
Plan Your Meals
It’s easy to just head to the grocery store and aimlessly wander throughout each aisle, guessing what you need. But trust me when I say it’s much better to take 10 minutes or so to sit down and plan your meals for the week. This way, you’ll know exactly what you need and won’t overbuy on items that will just sit in your fridge and grow mold.
Write down a weekly schedule of all your dinners. Maybe you’ll have fish and rice on Monday, tacos on Tuesday, spaghetti and meatballs on Wednesday, and so forth. Jot down the ingredients you’ll need for each recipe to create an easy week-long meal plan. Make sure you’re not writing down ingredients you already have available in your apartment.
Place the list of weekly meals on your fridge so you don’t forget what you had planned.
Stick to Your List
With all of the tasty food items that can be found in the grocery store, it’s so easy to put things in your cart that weren’t originally on your list (I mean, how can I turn down ice cream that’s on sale?).
But it’s best for your wallet and for eliminating food waste to ignore that temptation and only buy what’s on your list. You’ve already planned what you need for your meals each week, so whatever extra food you’re putting into your cart probably isn’t essential.
Store Food Properly
When food isn’t stored in the right location or at the proper temperature, it can go bad pretty quickly. For instance, greens should be in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer, but tomatoes shouldn’t be stored in the fridge. Instead, leave those out on your countertops, as they keep best at room temperature.
The fridge door is actually the warmest area, so that should be reserved for condiments such as mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard.
Don’t Always Rely on the Sell-By Date
The sell-by dates on items are there to let retailers know when food is at its peak. However, this date often scares many people into thinking that the food has gone bad, so everyone throws out perfectly good food.
Keep in mind that just because the sell-by date has passed, doesn’t mean that what’s in your fridge or pantry has spoiled. Instead of letting the date be your guide, use your eyes and nose to let you know whether or not you can keep the food or should throw it out.
Lets say that you have a bunch of leftovers from what you just made, but you’re going out of town for the next week. Simply put your leftovers in the freezer, and when you come back into town, they will still be fresh. All you have to do is take them out of the freezer and let them thaw.
Or you might be walking through the grocery store and see that chicken is on sale, but you know you won’t use it all during the week. Take out what you need, and then freeze the rest of the chicken so it will stay nice and fresh for when you’re ready to use it.
Just make sure that you label whatever you choose to freeze. Otherwise, it’s going to be a mystery trying to figure out what food is in each container. Write down what food is in the bag and the date that you put it in there.
Download a Meal Planning App
Do you have a whole bunch of miscellaneous ingredients in your fridge and pantry? Instead of trying to figure out on your own what to do with them, rely on your smartphone for some help.
Download the app called My Fridge Food. Check the boxes of what you have available in your kitchen and pantry, and the app will generate a list of potential dishes you can make.
Don’t Toss Overripe Fruit
Did those bananas sitting on your counter turn brown? Well, you might not enjoy eating them plain, but overripe bananas make for moist and delicious banana bread. Other overripe fruit like berries can also be put in the freezer and used in smoothies.