Fridge Leftovers

25 Ways to Stop Wasting Food and Save Money

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Fridge Leftovers

Waste Not Want Not

Grocery stores have their methods to keep food fresh, but are you as thrifty? Food waste is estimated to be 133 billion pounds per year, or 218.9 pounds for each person, according to the USDA. Joel Gamoran, a food waste crusader and author of the book "Cooking Scrappy," identifies it as a hot button issue: "Food waste is a crucial issue because of the negative impact it has on our environment, wallets, and recipes. People are literally throwing away money and flavor all while contributing to global warming." Here are a few tips on how to reduce food waste.

Related: Here's How Long You Have to Safely Eat 25 Unrefrigerated Foods

Make Leftovers Fun
Master Bread Pudding
Buy Local Produce

Opt for Local Produce

Fruits and vegetables that are sourced locally and from farmers markets are typically going to be fresher than what you find at the supermarket. This means they have spent less time on trucks being transported and less time sitting in fridges and on shelves, which means they will last longer once you get them home. When produce is in season and abundant, it's often priced lower as well, and farmers may be willing to offer a discount if you buy a larger quantity at once, especially toward the end of the day when they're packing up and would prefer to minimize what they have to bring back to the farm or keep it from going to waste.

Related: 10 Ways Shopping Local Can Save You Money

Check Expiration Dates
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Avoid Impulse Buys

Buying a bag of chips or a container of cookies may seem harmless enough, but if that replaces a meal or two that you otherwise have planned, it can start a cycle of food going bad and ending up in the can. One way to avoid impulse buys is to shop on a full stomach.

Related: 50 Ways to Save at the Grocery Store

Have a Visible Menu
Organize Your Fridge

Organize Your Fridge

Being able to see the food is important, but it's about more than just visibility. Knowing the colder and warmer spots of the refrigerator and what to store there helps maximize shelf life on perishables. See this guide from The Kitchn to get started.

Related: Here's How Long 53 Leftovers Will Last in the Fridge

Make Preserves

Make Homemade Fruit Preserves

Letting fresh fruit go bad is a very 21st century problem, as fresh fruit was in short supply and high demand for most of history. Turning fresh fruit into preserves allows you to extend the shelf life of the fruit for months. Even slightly overripe fruit, as long as it's not moldy, can be used. Try some of our favorite jam recipes that preserve seasonal flavors, while also saving you money and avoiding waste.

Related: 18 Things You Didn't Know About Peanut Butter and Jelly

Proper Storage
DIY Cosmetics
Freeze Herbs
Use Ice Cube Trays

Use Ice Cube Trays

It's not just herbs that can be frozen into ice cube trays, so buy a second set and dedicate them to freezing single-use ingredients. Everything from stock and broth to egg whites and coffee can be portioned out so that you can pop a cube into a pan, pot, or other kind of cooker or recipe as needed, without having to defrost the entire portion.

Related: 14 Simple Kitchen Hacks That Save Food and Money

Get Into Canning
Use Produce Sheets
Plan Menus

Plan Menus

Planning menus helps in so many ways. It helps to create an efficient grocery list, so you can choose items that can be used in more than one recipe. Including plans for leftovers and what new meals they will become is also a good idea. If there is a plan for everything, it's more likely to be eaten.

Related: 12 Healthy Meal Plans for Less Than $10 a Day

Make Soup
Buy Vegetables with Edible Tops
Use the Salad Bar

Use the Salad Bar

When shopping for a small quantity of an item for a recipe (such as nuts, raisins, or a particular vegetable), the salad bar at the grocery store can be your best bet —  assuming they make a comeback post-pandemic. Buying just the amount you need will make sure you don't end up throwing any out.

Related: What You Can and Can't Buy With SNAP Benefits

Store in Glass Containers
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Swap Bags for Jars

Swap Bags for Jars

Many foods come in plastic or paper bags, such as sugar, flour, nuts, etc. Transferring these items to glass has helps keep them fresh for longer while also protecting against spills from toppling over. Another benefit of jars is organization, which makes everything easier to see, find, and use.

Related: 20 Gifts for Disorganized People

Keep Oil Cool

Keep Oil Cool

Oil is one of the pricier staple ingredients, especially when buying olive oil or organic oils. It's tempting to keep the oil right next to the stove, but heat damages oil, making it go rancid quickly. Keep oils away from heat for freshness. If you buy a large tin of oil, transfer a small portion of it to a small bottle to keep within arms reach, and the bulk of the product away from any heat source.

Related: 33 Things Not to Buy at Costco, Sam's, or BJ's

Know Where to Store Produce
Label Your Food

Label Your Food

Labeling is especially important for frozen foods, which may be hard to identify. If you don't know what it is, you are more likely to let it languish in the fridge or freezer until it's expiration date drives it into the bin. Always use a date when labeling to know what needs to be eaten by when.

Related: 24 Healthy Recipes You'll Never Know Were Made With Frozen Produce

Keep a Clean Fridge

Keep a Clean Fridge

Cleaning out the fridge is a good idea on a regular basis. Using some baking soda to keep things fresh will help even more. This prevents funky fridge smells from sticking to otherwise good foods such as butter and cheese.

Related: 16 Filthy Things Even Clean Freaks Miss

Know Your Inventory

Know Your Inventory

How many times have you bought something at the store that you already had in the pantry? Keeping a list of your inventory, either in the pantry or on an online spreadsheet, will ensure you don't buy duplicates. Knowing exactly what you have on hand at all times will also help you make better use of fresh and more perishable ingredients.

Related: Over 30 Store-Brand Foods That Deliver Quality and Savings