Cut out food waste with 7 more guaranteed tips

Round wicker baskets full of green herbs

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

So far we’ve looked at being mindful of easy ways to cut down food waste. Here are some more advanced tips to refine how you shop and use food. Plan ahead to cut out food waste forever, save money and eat healthily with these 7 guaranteed tips. 

These strategies may take a little longer than those described previously. However the time and effort will be well spent. You’ll save resources, reduce landfill and limit methane pollution.

And you’ll also be a good role model for others in your household.

Try one strategy at a time

If you try to cut out all food waste in one hit, you’ll probably get overwhelmed. Instead, take it slowly, one step at a time. 

Pick the most appealing strategy, or the easiest to do. Once you’ve mastered that one, try another.

Do some problem-solving to work out how to make each strategy work. Keep going till you’re hardly throwing away any food at all.

1 Limit how often you shop

The less you shop, the less you’ll buy, and the less you’ll waste. Moreover, you won’t be tempted as much by all those tasty treats.

Do you whip into a convenience store every day after work? See if you can cut down to every second day for a few weeks. Then cut down to twice a week.

Finally, try one major shop a week for food and laundry items. Top up if you need to with a quick trip for perishables only. Be strict, only buy what you need to cut out food waste, and save money. 

2 Set a weekly budget

Over 1-2 months, note how much you spend each week on food items. Include all laundry and personal items as well. Work out the average amount you spend per week.

When you go shopping, aim to spend no more than this amount. As you’re shopping, round prices to the nearest whole dollar amount. Then add up the cost of items in your head, or using a calculator on your phone.

If you go over your set amount, put back the least healthy items.

3 Make up a master list

A master list of basic foods and laundry items means less hassle. It allows you to whip up a shopping list without wracking your brains. And you’ll save money and cut out food waste by buying only what you need.

Making one sounds hard, but you can start one up in a few minutes. Find an example in a good cook book, or online. Remove the unhealthy items to reduce temptation. 

Then keep a copy handy for a few weeks. As you think of items you’ve overlooked, add them in.

Now you can use this to write your weekly shopping list in moments.

4 Make your own meal plans

A set of simple weekly meal plans is even more useful than a master list. After all, who’s got the time to cook like a gourmet chef?

Each week, list in an exercise book a few easy meals you like to cook. Add the cookbook title and page number for the recipes, or the webpage URLs. Write out all ingredients needed for these meals.

Group similar ingredients together to make shopping easier. For example, breads, dairy, meat, fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices and so on.

Keep going till you have enough meals for a week. Add in any laundry and personal items for the week.

When you have more time, you can write out a few more weeks’ worth of meals with their own shopping lists. Start a new set of weekly meal plans on a new page of your exercise book.

Make at least 3 weekly meal plans if you can. Then you can rotate these indefinitely. Not only will this save time, you’ll cut out food waste as well.

Print your meal plans to make a more fancy booklet if you prefer. 

5 Use glass storage containers

If you store food properly, it won’t go bad as quickly. Choose glass over plastic storage containers (unless you have small children). It’s healthier and doesn’t affect the environment as much.

Old coffee or jam jars with screw top lids are ideal. Use them for nuts, dried fruits, seeds, cereals, flour and cooking ingredients.

Store foods as soon as you buy them.

6 Grow pots of herbs

Growing your own herbs gives a great sense of satisfaction. Thyme, oregano, rosemary, parsley and marjoram are all easy to grow.

With your own supply, you won’t need to rely on buying fresh herbs that rot quickly.

Home-grown herbs are packed with vitamins. Best of all you won’t need to use pesticides.

Once you’ve established some herbs, try cut-and-come-again lettuce or other greens. Pop them into well-drained trays, water regularly, and save lots of money.

Look online for tips and ideas, or get a book from your local library. Who knows, you may find you’ve got green fingers!

7 Learn to compost

Even if you cut out food waste, you’ll still have food scraps from food preparation.

Look online for information about composting food scraps. Many articles are aimed at people living in apartments, with no access to gardens.

If you’re in this position, you could add food scraps to the compost heap at a local community garden. Or add them to the green waste bin if one is provided by your council. Just remember not to wrap them in plastic.

Perhaps you could buy a small composting bin to sit on your kitchen bench. Enzyme action breaks down food scraps and prevents odours. The resulting liquid is full of good bacteria, and is great for plants if diluted. It can even be tipped into the toilet with beneficial effects on sewage systems.

Make small changes 

If there are some ideas here that you’d like to try, start small. Pick one thing you want to change and go from there.

Even if it doesn’t work out the first time, try again. And again. Sooner or later you’ll succeed in making it work.

Then pick another idea and put that into action. Over time you’ll almost completely cut out food waste.

Developing your own routines makes it easier. Soon it becomes part of your life, and you won’t have to think about it.

You’ll be living up to your values of caring for the environment instead of being hypocritical.

Take the time today to pick one of these strategies to cut out food waste. Commit to trying it out over several weeks. And see what a difference it makes to the amount of food waste you produce.

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