6 Ways To Eliminate Food Waste

Eliminating food waste is a big way to save money.  Every piece of food you throw in the garbage can or down the disposal cost you money and is a waste.  Figuring out ways to reduce waste can be key in reducing your grocery bill.

There are a few tips you can use to reduce your food waste:

  1. Make a list of what you’re throwing out – If you start seeing a pattern in that you’re pouring half a gallon of milk down the drain, then it’s time to start buying smaller quantities.  Seeing patterns will help you eliminate them.
  2. FIFO – This stands for ‘first in, first out’.  Whether it be with fresh fruit and vegetables, yogurt containers, or even canned goods, make sure you move the oldest stuff to the front so that you are increasing the chance of buying before the expiration date
  3. Keep fridge items in clear container – What you can’t see you will often forget about.  Put leftovers, cut up fruit, and similar items in clear containers so that you will increase your likelihood of seeing them when you’re in the fridge.
  4. Keep items in the same place – This works for your pantry and fridge.  Keep your fruit in one drawer, veggies in the other.  Keep all your dressings and condiments together.  Put milk and juice on the same shelf every time.  Leftovers all go in one area.  When things get spread around, they get forgotten about or lost in the shuffle.
  5. Clean out your freezer regularly – Our freezer is the spot where we find things going to waste more often.  It’s easier than anywhere else to push something to the back and forget about it, only to find it a frostbitten mess months later.  Re-organize your freezer every few months to keep space clear (avoiding future cluttering and cramming) and to bring things to the front that might have gotten lost in the shuffle but maybe can be saved.
  6.  Buy good containers…and burp them – A good food storage container will keep something fresh for much longer than keeping it uncovered or in a poorly designed container.  A good container should allow you to slightly raise the lid while subsequently pressing down to ‘burp’ the air out of them, slowing the process that causes many foods to break down.

By and large, we don’t throw out too much food.  We’ll find the very occasional ‘ewww, gross’ item or stuff that’s been pushed to the back of the freezer to die a slow death, but I think we do much better than we used to.

How much food do you find yourself throwing away?  Do you have any other tips and tricks to eliminate waste?  Please leave a comment and let me know what works (and what doesn’t) in your household.

10 thoughts on “6 Ways To Eliminate Food Waste”

  1. We do pretty much the same as you. One thing I've learned to do, after what could have been a very unfortunate incident, is to make sure that I check the expiration dates on canned goods. This definitely helps with your FIFO rule.

  2. We don't throw out much and I find routine helps us avoid it. Only when we end up with odd ball items or special events do I find that I forget about things at the back of the fridge.

  3. These are some great tips! Since I live alone, this is something that I constantly struggle with. How do I both keep fresh, healthy food in the house, and then also eat everything before it goes bad. It's tricky, but I'm getting better.

    Here's one tip that's awesome, but will most likely not be applicable to most of your readers: If you live in an area that sells milk in bags, as opposed to in jugs (like in Ontario), yo can actually freeze the individual bags of milk, and they'll keep for a couple of months. Then just defrost when you want milk. It works better with skim than with 2%, but it's a serious moneysaver, since buying milk 4L at a time is way more cost effective than buying it 1L at a time.

  4. @MW – Actually, when I was growing up we used to freeze milk in jugs. If memory serves, the trick is that you can't freeze a full jug otherwise it will expand and crack the plastic, but if you pour some into a glass before you put it in the freezer, you should be fine. Also, the fat will separate so you'll have to give it a good shake to mix everything back up, but I do recall it working!

  5. We use leftovers for lunches and occasionally for another meal. It is a huge savings over the month.

  6. We compost and are feeding worms with some of our scraps. If you have a garden then this is a reasonable idea too.

  7. Over the years, I've nagged the family enough about this pet peeve of mine that we don't throw much away. Totally agree with clear containers. We've switched to heavy glass ones that offer good visual reminders about the next leftover dinner.

  8. I think the biggest help in eliminating food waste is awareness. I read a book about food waste and we took a photo of what we were throwing out for a month–I was quite ashamed.

  9. Freezer, freezer, and freezer. Those are my strategies for leftover food. Even one dishful goes into a small freezer container and gets dropped in the big cold bin.

    And gosh…there sure have been some days when a fine dish of stew or spaghetti sauce or chili reheated in the microwave has been one heckuva godsend.

    Don't have much freezer waste because I eat out of the freezer all the time. Ingredients for the dog's food are kept in there, and so once every few days I have to rummage around to pull out stuff for her, which causes me to notice something I'd like to have for dinner.

  10. @Funny – Great strategy but I think most are not so diligent about rummaging around the freezer! Glad you have a system that works!

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