American families throw out about $1,500 of food each year – about 1,000 pounds of food per family.
In my house, the produce drawer is where good produce goes to die! Give produce the prime real estate: at the front at eye-level. Relegate stable goods to the produce drawer – root vegetables can chill there just fine, or rename the drawer entirely (we keep beer in ours!).
Rotate your stock in your fridge by putting new buys behind what needs to be used up so nothing gets lost in the shuffle.
The door is the warmest part of the fridge, so food kept there is more susceptible to spoilage.
Stores that specialize in massive quantities tend to push you into overbuying. Who can eat five pounds of fresh salad, if you’re not throwing a dinner party for twenty? Save bulk buys for shelf stable products like toilet paper. Psst – We actually offer a great price on toilet paper! Field Day 2-ply 300 sheet jumbo roll 12-packs: $6.99. Ours is 100% recycled paper to boot!
Skip the packaging… skip part of the price tag too! Our bulk aisle is a great place to find deals on everything from quality chocolate chips to wild rice and local granola.
Invest in a nice set of clear (ideally glass) containers for food storage. Mason jars actually work great for things like cheese and leftover rice. If you can’t see it, you probably won’t eat it.
Use fresh foods – like produce and fresh meats – soonest, while they’re at their best. Save pantry staples and frozen veggies and meats for later in the week.
If there are more leftovers than you’ll realistically eat (or have an appetite for: variety = spice of life), send them to the freezer right away so they don’t turn into compost. The same goes for produce: if there’s more than you want for dinner and it won’t keep, cook that broccoli and freeze it for later.
If your household won’t eat the whole loaf while it’s fresh, store the second half in the freezer where it won’t mold or go stale. Make sure it’s sliced, so you can pull one slice at a time.
Eggplant and tomatoes both on sale, and bread heels going stale? Turn the bread into breadcrumbs and it’s Eggplant Parmesan night. It goes without saying, but stock your pantry with interesting shelf-stable ingredients when they’re on sale for a broad palette to work with. The eating-by-the-sales method can also help you out of food ruts!
If your schedule can accommodate, shop more frequently and purchase what you’ll eat in the next few days. You’ll be less likely to over-buy and end up eating fresher, more nutritious produce!
‘Best By,’ ‘Use By,’ Enjoy By,’ and ‘Sell By’ dates aren’t industry standard, nor are they regulated by law – they just indicate when the product is at peak quality. Use your senses to determine whether an item is actually off. If it’s molding, for example, toss it (the exception is hard cheese: just remove the mold and a little extra). You may be surprised to hear that eggs are often still good 3-5 weeks after their date (a trick to test them: put them in water – if they sink, they’re good, if they float, toss them), and unopened yogurt is often good 2-4 weeks past, according to Dana Gunders, author of The Waste Free Kitchen Handbook.
Plan one day a month (or week!) as fridge clean-out day. Soups, frittatas, roast vegetables, and nachos are perfect catch-alls for foods that need to be eaten. Hold onto that chicken carcass (stash it in the freezer if it doesn’t line up with clean-out day) to turn into stock along with any limp celery and carrots, which are perfect for stock. Some people go as far as making stock out of what would otherwise be compost: most vegetable trimmings are ready for the stockpot, and even eggshells! Info: www.thesweetbeet.com/vegetable-stock
If you cook your food yourself, you’ll save money every time (and it’s usually healthier too). Stick to the store perimeter – fruit and vegetables, proteins, dairy – to DIY dinner.