Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Avoiding Food Waste: Four Thrifty Living Tips

Last month marked two years of blogging here at Thrifty Living! One of the things I blog about most weeks is our food waste. I've learned over the last two years that I throw out way more than I thought I did, and that I throw out way less when I am consistently going through our fridge every week and being held accountable by taking a photo!

Here are four ways that have helped me to waste less!

1) Buy less. For my family this usually means only enough produce to last a week, until the next shopping trip. This also means that I usually buy less variety of foods. Sure, by the end of the week we might be sick of only eating grapes and watermelon, but then we are free to buy whatever is on sale the next week without worrying about using up the old stuff.

2) Most food can be frozen. Especially when it comes to perishables like fruits and vegetables, but also meats, cheese, and bread, most food does great in the freezer. We love snacking on frozen fruit in the summer, and I've frozen several vegetables that were extra from our CSA so that I can use them this fall and winter.

3) Pinpoint - what is my family (me) most likely to waste? Apparently I'm terrible at using up ricotta cheese! I know that when I buy ricotta I need to have a plan for ALL the ricotta. Sometimes that plan is part of the week's meals, and sometimes the plan is simply to freeze the extra. Do you always have fruit that is going bad? Why does that happen? Questions like these have helped me figure out the what I need to work on and have a plan before I bring that particular food home again.

4) Use up the old one before opening a new container. Do you ever get near the end of something (salsa, dip, etc) and just want to move on to the new jar? We do! If we give in and just open the new one, the old contain usually sits and sits and becomes a science experiment. Of course some things, like salad dressing, have multiple varieties. But the other day I saw 3 bottles of Ranch in my fridge door (although one was still unopened)! We finished off the two that we nearly empty, and now the unopened bottle is ready for next time.

AND (a bonus just for kicks!)

5) Menu plan. Not the complicated here is our menu for the next 6 weeks kind of plan (although if you're there, that's great), but a plan for your meals before you shop. Not only does it help me make sure I'm not buying too much that will just go to waste, but I can make sure I am buying enough, which cuts down on those extra trips to the store before dinner. 

Do you have any favorite tips to avoid wasting food? I'd love to hear them!

And be sure to check back tomorrow for a fun giveaway of a product that has helped me reduce our food waste!


  1. I think buying less truly is key! So many people tell me my fridge looks really empty, but if it were any fuller, I know stuff would go bad before we got to it! My freezer also totally agrees with tip #2. I am addicted to freezing things!

  2. I love trying to freeze different things, especially meals that are all ready to go and snacks that I would usually have to buy packaged at the grocery.


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