Does anyone else feel a slight twinge in their chest when you’re forced to throw out food that’s gone bad? Watching it fall into the garbage or compost is like watching all of its potential being thrown away! Of course, it’s not easy on our wallets either. However, there are some strategies I would like to share that may help avoid this sad fate for the foods you don’t use!
Planning to Avoid Waste
- You guessed it… meal planning! When you plan your meals and snacks for the week, you are less likely to purchase items you don’t need or that you won’t eat. Also, you won’t have to stress about what to make for dinner after a long day of work! Make time during the week or weekend to sit down and plan out your meals and snacks for the following week so that you know exactly what (and how much) food to make at every meal. If you have children, a partner or roommates, get them involved in the planning process too!
- Whether you have a meal plan or not, make yourself a grocery list before leaving the house. Take a look at what you already have so that you’re not buying extra foods you won’t use.
- Plan to eat something before heading to the grocery store. We’ve all heard it before, but it still happens to the best of us! When you shop for food on an empty stomach, everything looks good, and you’re much more likely to purchase excess foods you wouldn’t normally.
- Join us for our upcoming nutrition workshop, Meal Planning 101, for more helpful tips!
Keep Track of Expiry Dates
- This may seem like a simple strategy but it can go a long way. Take a look at the expiration date of each food before adding it to your grocery cart. Make sure you avoid items you’re not likely to use before their best before date.
- If you know that some foods are coming up on their expiration dates, place them somewhere that will remind you to use them, like at the front of the shelf in the fridge. You’ll see it every time you open that fridge door, and it’ll be as though it’s begging you to use it before it goes bad!
- Donate it! If you see that an expiration date is coming up on some of your non-perishable food items and you know you’re not going to use them on time, that’s okay! Someone else would be happy to enjoy them. Donate these foods to your local food bank.
Turn Unexpected Leftovers into Something Delicious
- Have you ever made a homemade soup? It’s quite simple. Once you have your broth, you can get creative and add any ingredients of choice. Making the broth is quite simple, and it starts with your kitchen scraps! Get in the habit of storing leftovers you would not otherwise use in a large container in your freezer – throw in the veggies that didn’t make the cut for dinner, leftover herbs and meat bones. Plan to make the soup when the bag is full. Simply add the leftovers into a large pot and fill it with water. Simmer for a 2-3 hours and ta-da! – you have a broth just waiting to become a delicious homemade soup!
- Do you have fruit that’s seen better days? Throw it in the freezer before it goes bad, and reach for it when you’re making a smoothie! You can also use these stored-away fruits for tasty desserts at your next dinner party: banana bread, homemade banana raspberry sorbet, avocado brownies, apple cobbler… the possibilities are endless!
- Did you save your leftovers from last night’s meal? Recycle them to make something delicious for dinner! Leftover roasted chicken? How about some chicken fajitas or a chicken stir-fry for dinner? Leftover veggies? Add them to eggs to make a veggie omelet or add them to a wrap with hummus for lunch. Brainstorm with your family or roommates and see who can come up with the most creative leftover dish idea!
Avoiding food waste isn’t easy. However, when you incorporate these strategies into your daily routine, you may notice a difference in the amount of food you throw away and the extra money in your pocket!
Written in collaboration with Mistralle Brouillard, RD, Nutrition Volunteer