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13 Easy Tips to Avoid Food Waste

  1. Plan meals for the week, make a list and stick to it! Try to be realistic about how much you will eat at home during the upcoming week and how much time you will have to prepare the recipes. And make sure you choose recipes you are looking forward to eating!
  2. Have the right food containers to properly store food and to allow you to pack your own meals to take with you. Think small containers for salad dressings, mason jars for smoothies, freezer bags for storing fruit and vegetables.
  3. Keep perishable items front and center in your refrigerator so you don’t forget about them.
  4. Freeze what you aren’t sure you’ll use, like loaves of bread, fresh berries, herbs in olive oil, leftover sauces like pesto or tomato sauce, and soups.
  5. Be creative. Repurpose vegetables and herbs in omelets, soups, stir-fry dishes, sauces, or lasagna. Repurpose fruits in smoothies, quick breads, pancakes, or even popsicles. Use stale bread to make croutons. Pinterest is a great place to search for how to use certain ingredients!
  6. Take a note from Jenny of “Dinner: A Love Story” and have a “Top Chef at Home” night where you challenge yourself, your roommate, friend or significant other to make a meal out of a select group of ingredients you have on hand!
  7. Stock pantry staples that pair well with a variety of ingredients, like brown rice, quinoa, whole grain bread, pasta, and broths, for go-to, simple meals when you aren’t sure what to do with your leftover ingredients.
  8. Rotate your food items, including canned goods. Make sure your items to be used first are towards the front so older items aren’t forgotten about before they’re expired.
  9. Consider the ingredients in the recipes you choose, especially if there will be some left over after you make your recipe. If you aren’t sure if you will use spelt flour, brown rice syrup or agar-agar again, you may want to rethink your recipe.
  10. Try canning or preserving your produce. It extends the life of your fruit and vegetables and is also a great new skill to learn in the kitchen.
  11. Make sure you store bananas, apples, and tomatoes by themselves. Certain fruits give off natural gasses as they ripen and proper storage means they will not spoil faster than you can consume them.
  12. Wait to wash fresh berries until you are ready to eat them. Washing them before storing them can cause mold.
  13. Keep a food storage chart readily accessible, such as this one from the University of Nebraska’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, to refer to if you are unsure how long something may last or what fresh items to consume first.

Courtney McGowan is a freelance writer living in San Diego, CA. She is a graduate of Boston University’s Master of Science in Health Communication program and currently works at UC San Diego in Research Ethics. She enjoys writing, cooking, NPR, yoga, reading and running. She strives to educate others about various topics in health and wellness. Twitter: @courtasee // Instagram: @courtneym913 // LinkedIn