Waste Not, Want Not: The Story of Food


I hate throwing away food.  Just ask my husband.  I’m constantly pushing old leftovers at him in hopes that they haven’t reached toxic waste status yet.  Fortunately, he’s not too picky and his sense of smell is less than keen.   He’s a good sport.

Unfortunately, Nearly half of all food in the U.S. goes to waste and the average household loses $500 a year on uneaten produce alone!

I’ve been ingrained with the attitude of “waste not, want not” since I was a small child and now that I run my own household I’ve been actively honing my money saving and food salvaging skills.  Because lets face it.  Food is money.  And tossing that old, forgotten casserole out is like shredding dollar bills.

Here are a few tips that I’ve picked up that have helped me use my food before I lose it.

Make a shopping list.  I don’t know about you, but when I go grocery shopping without a list, my mind goes blank the minute I walk in the store and I end up buying the food I already have plenty of at home and forgetting to buy the items I needed in the first place!  Taking inventory and making a list of what you need for the next week will cut down on trips to the store and ensure that you don’t have too much of one thing.

Eat before you shop.  Numerous studies have shown that when you shop hungry you buy more.  This is definitely true for me.  What’s worse, I tend to buy more junk food or preprocessed food that I don’t need when I’m hungry.

Keep cupboards and freezer stocked with dry, canned, and frozen goods that you know you will eat.  They often have a long shelf life and can be used to enhance leftovers and make quick meals when combined with perishable food.

Preserve bulk food.  Buying in bulk is often cheaper and uses less packaging.  Just make sure if it’s perishable that you can it or freeze it properly before it goes bad.

Organize the fridge.  If something is about to expire move it to the front, middle shelf.  Put new food in the back.  This always helps me.  If I can see it, I’m much more likely to use it.

Find leftover-friendly recipes and use them!  I find that the easier and tastier the recipe,  the better.  It’s fun to see how many ways you can use a cut of beef.   I’m also a big fan of throwing old fruit in the blender with some ice to make delicious smoothies.

Compost waste.  This is a fairly simple one for those of us with some space outside, but there are also in-home compost systems that I’ve been dying to try!  I’ll let you know how it works when I get one.

Here’s one of my favorite sites that’s full of yummy recipes and good ideas:

Love Food Hate Waste

How do you fight food waste in your home?


3 responses »

  1. Great suggestions and reminders Emily – thanks! Right now I’m saving waste by giving away my fresh-from-the-garden corn while it’s still good. Any takers?

  2. Great article – very well written. Ha ha that first part about your husband cracked me up.

    You and Dave share the same obsession with not throwing things out. In fact, I often clean out the fridge while he’s at work because I feel so guilty throwing out that bundle of cilantro that I’ve let go bad and I can just see his disappointed look.

    We like shopping at Costco but, I’ve found that if we avoid buying fresh produce in bulk then we throw much less away! Or another thing we’ve done is, go in on the produce with another couple.

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