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How to Avoid Food Waste: 6 Easy Tips

How often do you open your fridge to a fowl smell? If this has happened to you, you probably realized it was time to throw away all of that old forgotten food that somehow crept it’s way into the very back of your fridge. For many people, cleaning their fridge and throwing away old food is a weekly chore. Yet, due to the lack of oxygen available in tightly packed landfills, food that gets thrown away can’t decompose properly and instead creates methane gas, further polluting our environment. In fact, so much food is wasted that in the U.S. alone nearly 40% of the food produced and sold is wasted! Around here though, we are obviously not a big fan of waste. But how can you avoid wasting food? Here are some simple strategies individuals and families can adopt to help reduce food waste.

Start Fresh

The first step to reducing any sort of waste is to use everything up first. Fruits, veggies, canned goods, nut butters, you name it! This will also help you get a fresh start with your grocery list. 

Shop With a List

It is so easy to buy whatever looks the most appealing, especially if one is to take a trip to the grocery story while hungry (don't do it– trust us!). Write down a list of what you need for the week and stick to it. This will not only assist you in only buying the foods you will eat, but it will also assist you in remembering all of the things you need. Consider meal planning and prepping every week to establish what you will be creating. You'd be surprised how much money this can save you as well, as you will not be buying random miscellaneous foods that may go uneaten and spoil, or can only be used for one recipe.

Buy Less, Grocery Shop More

To avoid buying too much food and risking it spoiling, simply shop a little more and buy a little less each time. For example, if you plan on grocery shopping every Friday but start to notice your food going bad on Wednesday, change your shopping schedule to shopping every 4 - 5 days instead of every 7 and buy only enough food to last until the next trip. Although you may have to schedule in more time for shopping, your trips will be shorter and your food will be significantly less.

Eat Highly-Perishable Foods First

Being prepared is the key to reducing your food waste. We've all had that "Oh yeah! I bought berries a week ago, I'll go snack on those!" moment, only to find them moldy and inedible (#facepalm). To avoid that from happening again, we've created a 'best by' guide below for a variety of common fresh produce items:

  • 1 - 2 days: berries, eggplants, herbs, lettuce
  • 2 - 4 days: beet greens, corn, cucumbers, green beans, broccoli, mushrooms,
  • radishes, spinach, yellow squash
  • 4 - 6 days: beets, cauliflower, celery, citrus, ginger, pears, peppers, zucchini
  • 7+ days: apples, cabbage, carrots, garlic, onions, potatoes, pumpkin, sweet
  • potatoes, winter squash

Here's an extra tip for you: rather than throwing the entire fruit or vegetable away when bruised or spoiling, simply eat around the inedible areas and compost the rest. Speaking of compost...

Compost #LikeABoss

This is a serious game changer! We love composting here at {Zero} Waste Kit because it is one of the greatest ways you can reduce your waste. Composting allows you to send food back into the earth as soil instead of in a landfill where it will just create methane gas. Composting also allows you to avoid throwing out food that you wouldn’t eat such as rinds, peels, stems, and more. Most of the food waste created can be composted at home with the exception of meat, fish, and dairy products. If there is an industrial composting facility in your community, take full advantage of it and become familiar with items they accept and items they do not accept. If you are unable to have your own backyard compost, consider bringing your compost to your local community garden or even your farmer's market. 

Preserve for Later

Another great way to reduce your food waste is to simply make sure you are storing your food properly. When in doubt, seal it, fridge it, and never double dip. Double dipping exposes your food to germs which multiply in time, spoiling your food even quicker. Consider freezing as a method for prolonging the life of your food. If you live in a place with seasons and blueberries for example are only available a certain time of year, we recommend stocking up at the farmer's market near the end of the season and then freezing them to last you the entire year.

Consider dehydrating as another method for preserving your food. If you don't have a dehydrator, use your oven. It's remarkably easy to dehydrate fruits and veggies in the oven. Just turn your oven to the lowest setting, cut your fruit and vegetable into ¼ inch slices, and put them in the oven on a lined sheet pan for as long as they need, usually 6 to 8 hours.

Thanks for tuning in for another blog post on the {Zero} Waste Kit Blog! We hope these tips to reduce food waste will help you on your journey to reducing your ecological footprint. If you have any comments of questions, be sure to leave them below. Lastly, don’t forget to share this blog post with someone who you think would appreciate it!


Say hello to our guest author, Kara! Kara is the founder of bravelyblonde.com where she focuses on making eco friendly living easy for everyone. She loves wildlife, the environment, and her husband, and happily spends most of her days as a full-time volunteer. You can find her at bravelyblonde.com or follow her on Instagram

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