Making the most of food.

Ready to save money and make the most of the food you buy? Here are 5 tips to reduce your food waste:

  1. Meal plan

Start a routine: Once a week sit down with your family, partner, …cat (whoever!) and meal plan. What evenings will you be out of the house and not eating at home? How many meals do you need to prepare that week? How can you use the leftovers? How much time will you have to prepare meals? Sticking with simple, quick recipes is key. Do you need to get up early one morning to throw stuff in your slow cooker? Planning ahead can make this easier.

Make a grocery list from your planned recipes and stick to it. Be sure to have a full tummy when shopping to help you stick to your shopping plan.

  1. Eat your leftovers

As I mentioned above, make sure that your meal planning incorporates eating your leftovers. If you tend to skip breakfast, leftovers are a no-excuse way to get some nutrition in in the morning. Do you normally buy lunch out? Why not save your money and eat leftovers?

Having pre-made meals in the freezer are awesome for nights that you get home later or when you just want a night off from cooking.

Store leftovers in a clear container at eye-level if they go into the fridge. They will be less likely to disappear into the back of the fridge this way.

  1. Save fruits and vegetables that last longer for later in the week

Buying fruits and vegetables at varying stages of ripeness can allow you to have perfectly ripe ones all week. If you only shop once a week or less, this can be key. As well as buying fruits and vegetables that have a longer shelf life and saving these for when you run out of other fruits and vegetables, like cabbage, apples, pears, beets, squash, radishes, carrots, onions, and so on.

Buying frozen fruits and vegetables works well too if you are prone to wasting fresh ones. They can even be more nutrient dense, especially in the winter months, compared to fresh. Check out the awesome infographic at the end of this post for some storage tips and download the FoodKeeper app by the USDA.

  1. Donate food

If you have food that you know you are not going to eat — donate it! There are often restrictions on what foods you can donate depending on who you are donating to. Check out your local food bank and look into the requirements and what foods are needed most. Then donate what you can.

  1. Understand best-before dates

Best-before dates are mandated on foods that are fresh for less than 90 days. The use by dates tell us what the food has the best taste, quality and nutrient content but are not related to safety. Expiration dates, found mainly on baby formula and nutrition supplements, are different. You should not eat these after the expiration date. However, just because a food, like eggs or milk for example, is a few days past its best-before date doesn’t meal you can’t eat it. If you have a plan you can use these foods when they are at their best.We wastestoring-fruit-and-vegetables.jpg much good food that is just a day or two past the best-before date. Of course, use your knowledge of food safety and “if in doubt throw it out” — but don’t discard a food solely based on this date.