Looking for creative ways to reduce food waste to save on grocery dollars and help the environment? Use these tips from dietitians!
One of the most common complaints I hear about healthy eating is that it’s too expensive. But that’s not necessarily true.
I recently found out something interesting: The average American family spends $151 per week on groceries, reports a Gallup poll. That number isn’t low at all—and like most of us, I’m always looking to save supermarket dollars.
Plus, in a study published in PLOS One, 29 percent of Americans said wasting at least some household food is unavoidable.
However, many participants said they’d like to cut back on this waste—for reasons including less guilt, increased efficiency, money savings, setting a good example for children, and environmental benefits.
And if you didn’t know, there are 133 billion pounds of food wasted each year!
To help you save supermarket dollars by cutting back on how much food you waste, I rounded up a whole bunch of tips on creative ways to reduce food waste.
Ready to help there be less wasted food in the world? Let’s get going!
1. Don’t be lured by a sale
“Resist the urge to buy large quantities of food just because it’s on sale,” says Sarah Pflugradt, MS, RDN, author of Favorite Family Meals.
“Ten for $10 or buy one, get one can seem like a really great deal, but it’s not if it goes to waste. Buy out of necessity, not out of impulse,” she says.
2. Buy only the spices you need
Here’s one case it doesn’t make sense to buy in bulk. “Rather than buying an entire container of a spice, I get just the small amount I require for the recipe,” says Angie Asche MS, RD, author of Fuel Your Body.
“It’s much cheaper to buy just the amount you need, and I know I won’t be letting any go to waste—unlike if I were to purchase a full container!”
3. Choose lean proteins
“The fat that you trim or drain off fattier cuts of meat are dollars that are going in the trash,” says Bethany Frazier, MS, RD, blogger at Kansas City Dietitian.
“By choosing leaner cuts of meat, you benefit from every ounce of meat that you purchase,” she says.
4. Vacuum seal your food
5. Make your fridge food-waste friendly
The BerryBreeze uses activated oxygen to keep food fridge. It works by neutralize ethylene, mold, and bacteria—as well as associated odors.
6. Store your produce smartly
When it comes to creative ways to reduce food waste, I’m really impressed by OXO’s GreenSaver Produce Keeper.
When I used it, my berries stayed fresh and plump longer than a week! The container’s carbon filter absorbs ethylene, which is the gas that causes fruits and vegetables to ripen—and eventually spoil.
7. Freeze your fruit
“Freeze berries, melons and other fruits when they are on the verge of going bad—and use them a frozen snack,” says Amanda Bratton, RD, a dietitian in St. Charles, MO.
Store the fruit in zip-top freezer bags. No freezer space? Think about composting your food scraps so you can create soil to grow new food!
8. Use stems for a snack
“When roasting broccoli or cauliflower, I don’t waste the stems,” says Rachel Begun, MS, RDN, a nutritionist in Los Angeles. “I cut them into slices and salt them for a pre-dinner snack.”
“First, I trim the outside layer by cutting vertically, then slice horizontally into ‘coins’ and salt,” she says. “They’re crunchy and refreshing.”
9. Add broccoli stalks to a recipe
The best part about fresh broccoli is definitely the florets, but I always feel a little guilty about throwing out the thick stalks.
The solution: This homemade, oh-so-healthy slaw. Thanks to creamy avocado, it’s just as satisfying as coleslaw but has an extra dose of nutrients. Now, that’s a creative way to reduce food waste!
10. Eat vegetable greens
“Remember that the greens of many vegetables are edible and nutritious!” says Sharon Palmer, RDN, author of Plant-Powered for Life. Try this with beets, radishes, broccoli, cabbage, and carrots.
11. Make your own stock
“Use scraps like carrot and other peels, tops of celery, and more to make vegetable stock,” says Christy Brissette, MS, author of Everyday Low Carb.
“Your stock will be loaded with potassium and comes without the high sodium and cost of store bought stock,” she says. “Then you can use the stock in your meal plans.”
12. Whip up a bisque
“Once shrimp shells are peeled, you can freeze them to make a seafood or shrimp soup or chowder,” notes Tracee Yablon Brenner, RDN, co-author of Simple Food for Busy Families.
13. Create new dishes with leftovers
“When you’re trying to use up leftovers, it may seem like certain foods don’t go together,” says Elizabeth Ward, RD, author of Expect the Best. “But you may be pleasantly surprised.”
“For example, I top leftover cooked quinoa or whole-grain pasta with last night’s chili for lunch,” she says. Not going to be around to use those leftovers? Freeze extras, or whip up a smaller amount of food.
14. Don’t pile on the food
Here’s an easy way to prevent food waste. “Put the appropriate amount of food on your plate, so there isn’t waste after a meal to scrape and trash,” suggests Hope Paul, RD, a certified diabetes educator at WW.
You can always go back for an extra portion of veggies if you’re still hungry!
15. Make a food donation run
A great way for reducing wasted food? Make a point of storing food that’s non-perishable for food donations that you’re unlikely to use.
You know, maybe you bought an extra bottle of cooking oil during a BOGO sale. Make a monthly run to drop off food donations.
When it comes to creative ways to reduce food waste, you have an incredible amount of options. You can reduce food waste when you’re grocery shopping and in your own kitchen and beyond.
- Americans Spend $151 a Week on Food; the High-Income, $180, Gallup.com
- Wasted Food: U.S. Consumers’ Reported Awareness, Attitudes, and Behaviors, PLOS One
- Christy Brissette, MS, author of Everyday Low Carb and president of 80 Twenty Nutrition
- Angie Asche MS, RD, author of Fuel Your Body
- Bethany Frazier, MS, RD, blogger at Kansas City Dietitian
- Kristen Smith, MS, RDN, founder of 360 Family Nutrition
- Sarah Pflugradt, MS, RDN, author of Favorite Family Meals
- Rachel Begun, MS, RDN, a nutritionist in Los Angeles
- Sharon Palmer, RDN, author of Plant-Powered for Life
- Hope Paul, RD, a certified diabetes educator at WW
- Tracee Yablon Brenner, RDN, co-author of Simple Food for Busy Families
- Elizabeth Ward, RD, author of Expect the Best
- Amanda Bratton, RD, a dietitian in St. Charles, MO
What are your thoughts on this topic? What are your favorite creative ways to reduce food waste?
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