We wouldn’t throw cash out in the trash, yet many of us spend dollars every week on food which ends up in the garbage uneaten. It is estimated that between 30-40% of the American food supply is wasted, worth $161 billion dollars per year.

We don’t set out to waste food, so why does it continue to be a problem? Researchers have found that the main reasons consumers throw out food are due to concern about foodborne illness, and for the desire to eat only fresh foods.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. By reducing food waste, we are not only helping our pocketbooks but helping society and the environment.

Here, our helpful tips to help you reduce food waste:

1. Shop smart and with purpose.
How many times have you gone to the market without a game plan and ended up with a basket worth of products that you didn’t really need? Instead, try to plan out your weekly meals and only buy the necessary ingredients. You could also order your groceries online, which not only makes shopping easy and convenient it helps curb those in-store impulse purchases.

2. Portion out your food in a reasonable and realistic manner.
Blame it on restaurants, but it’s likely that your eyes are bigger than your stomach. Not only can oversized portions be poor for your health but wasted food from large meals can have a negative impact on climate change. In 2010, it was reported that stores, restaurants, and homes wasted an estimated 133 billion pounds of food in total. Oftentimes, this food will end up in landfills that produce methane gas, which is 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

3. Save your leftovers and actually eat them.
Whether you’re dining out or eating at home, make it a point to consume your leftovers. After all, it’s less work than having to create a new meal! If eating the same meal sounds boring, try to spice up your dish by adding other items that you have on hand. One of our favorite ways to reinvent leftovers is by putting a fried or poached egg on top for a great breakfast or lunch the next day. Not only are you reducing waste, but you are also tapping into your creativity and your taste buds will thank you.

4. Take note of what you throw in the trash.

If you notice that there are certain products that consistently end up in the garbage or compost bin, try to avoid buying them or purchase them in smaller amounts. Foods such as fresh berries tend to spoil rather quickly, so it’s best not to buy in bulk, or to freeze the excess so that you don’t have to throw them away. Alternatively, get cooking to use up those almost-gone fruits and veggies. For example, banana bread tends to work best with overly ripe bananas and is simple to whip together.

5. Utilize your freezer.
If you have perishable items on hand that you know you won’t use in time, pop them in the freezer. Many foods, including grains, meats, fruits, and vegetables will have a much longer shelf life if kept frozen and will hold up very well in the freezer until you’re ready to use. You can even freeze soup broth for a delicious meal that can be ready in a pinch.

We hate throwing out food, so we’ve created some delicious recipes which can easily incorporate leftover meat or veggies – that way, you’re getting multiple tasty meals, saving money, and saving time. Try our quick leftover curryvegetable frittata, or veggie fried rice.

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