When you practice a few cooking smarts, you don’t only save money, you also reduce food waste. Here you can learn ways to waste less, spend less, and help the earth while you’re at it!

Food waste is becoming a big problem in America. The average American family throws away over $2,000 worth of food every year. Food waste is not just bad for our pocket books, it’s also bad for the earth. Watch the video below or read our following tips for 6 ways that you can help reduce food waste.

Video

6 Tips on How to Reduce Food Waste

Get tips on reducing food waste to help save money and the Earth's resources with this video.

1. Make a Meal Plan & Grocery List

Yes, this is also our number one tip for Ways to Save Money on Groceries, but we just can’t stress enough about how important it is to make a meal plan and a grocery list before you start grocery shopping! When you have a list, you’ll know exactly what you need to buy, so you won’t end up buying things that will just go bad and need to be tossed away. But before you hit the grocery store, take stock of what you have in your fridge, freezer, and pantry, so that you won’t buy something that you already have at home.

2. Store Ingredients Correctly

When you get back from the grocery store, pack all the ingredients away correctly. A lot of ingredients can spoil quickly because they’re not properly stored. Here are a few food storage tips:

Meats should be stored on the bottom shelf of the fridge, below any prepared or ready-to-eat foods to prevent cross-contamination. If you don’t plan on using meat within a few days, it should be stored in the freezer.

Fresh produce should be placed in the vegetable drawer, and remember to keep the ones that will spoil faster on top. That way you’ll get to them first. As for fruits, if you’re not going to eat them all in a day, put some in the fridge, and keep the rest out for easy access (and healthy snacking).

Herbs should be planted in a jar of water, covered with a plastic bag, and tied with a rubber band. See how we do it in this video:

Video

How to Store Herbs

Learn how to store herbs so that they'll stay fresher longer and last you for many recipes.

3. Cook Ingredients with a Shorter Shelf Life First

Veggies like kale or chard have a shorter shelf life, so you’ll want to cook them earlier in the week. Hardy veggies like broccoli, carrots, and potatoes can hold out longer, so you can save them for later in the week. Use our Produce Shelf Life Guide here to determine which produce has a shorter shelf life. This guide can be printed out for free to hang on your fridge for easy referencing!

Infographic

Produce Shelf Life Guide

Reduce food waste when you learn how to care for fresh produce.

4. Reuse the Remains of Ingredients

Here’s where you can get creative! Vegetable trimmings and bones can be stored in a stock bag and stored in the freezer. When the bag is full, you’ll be able to turn these trimmings into homemade stock. Stale bread or even bread ends that you don’t want to eat can be turned into breadcrumbs or homemade croutons. And if you’re making stuffed zucchini boats, you can add the inside parts of the zucchini that you won’t use to bulk up a frittata instead. The possibilities are endless!

For 5 tried-and-true ways to use up vegetables that are laying around in your fridge, check out our 5 Ways to Use Up Vegetables article below. We cover our favorite simple cooking formulas to help you reduce food waste.

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5 Delicious & Easy Ways to Use Up Vegetables

Instead of letting your vegetables go bad, here are five ways to use up vegetables, turn them into something tasty,… Read more.

5. Turn Leftovers into New Meals

Now this is a fun way to make leftovers delicious and interesting! Get inventive and repurpose leftovers by turning them into a completely new dish. Meat sauce from one night can be made into tacos the next. Plain rice one day can be fried rice the next day. And a huge crock pot of slow-cooked meat can be used for sandwiches, salads, burritos, and more for the whole week. Stir-frying is also a great way to use up both veggies and proteins. We’ve got 16 creative ideas here to make leftovers new and exciting again:

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Repurposing Leftovers & Leftover Ingredients

Get more life out of your leftovers, so that you can reduce food waste and save more money.

And if you’re looking to save on time in addition to money and food, try the idea of cooking once and eating twice. Instead of making the exact portion for dinner, double it up to specifically use for a repurposed meal or a leftover lunch. Cooking 2 cups of rice will take the same amount of time and effort as cooking 1 cup.

If you keep a well-stocked pantry, you can start transforming your leftovers into whole new meals immediately with a few simple, but creative ideas. Now this is a fun and delicious way to waste less money and reduce food waste! For an easy start to cooking once and eating twice, download our free recipe book here:

Free Recipe Book

Cook Once, Eat Twice

Save time in the kitchen with 5 recipes that can be easily repurposed into 5 new and delicious meals.

6. Utilize the Freezer

If you have leftovers that you suspect you won’t be able to eat before they go bad, you can pop them into the freezer. Same goes for most ingredients, as most of them freeze just as well. To learn more about what foods you can freeze and how to freeze them properly, check out our full lesson on freezing and print out this handy infographic to hang on your fridge:

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Guide to Frozen Food Storage

Everything you need to know about how to properly store food in your freezer.

It also makes sense to cook in larger batches and freeze extra so that even during busy times, you won’t have to stress about cooking or resort to less-healthy, more expensive food options. Freezing meals can also equate to big grocery savings, and buying meat and produce in bulk for a variety of meals can reduce costs.

Cook a bunch of freezer meals over a weekend to get you through any busy period of life, or just pick a few to have on hand during those unexpected moments of chaos. One of our favorite things to do when stocking the freezer is to make it fun. Invite a friend or two, share recipes, shop together, and spend an afternoon cooking and packing up your meals together. You can even split up the freezer bounty at the end of the day for more variety! Not only will it make the process enjoyable, but you’ll be able to celebrate together when you have those weeknight victories of quick, healthy, homemade dinners.

Recipes

Best Freezer-Friendly Meals

Stock your freezer with quick, healthy meals, so you’ll always have dinner covered.

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