Food waste starts in the grocery store. The smarter you are about a few important rules while shopping, the less food you’ll waste. And less wasted food is good for the planet, your wallet, and your peace of mind.
Here are some shopping tips to avoid food waste:
1. Opt for vegetables that can be eaten raw or cooked.
You’re less likely to throw away foods that can be eaten in multiple ways because you’ll have more options when it’s time to cook. For example, it’s easier to find a way to use spinach than lettuce. Spinach can be used in a salad, a smoothie, scrambled eggs, tossed in a pasta sauce or sautéed with garlic. Lettuce is less versatile and often goes to waste if you don’t eat enough salads that week.
2. Choose items that are easy to prep.
Our lives are already busy, which means we’re more likely to use foods that are simple to prepare. During the week, choose vegetables that are quick and easy like broccoli, peppers, or zucchini instead of something that requires trimming like whole green beans or artichokes. When choosing proteins, opt for smaller cuts of meat like ground turkey, fish fillets, or boneless chicken – if you’re vegetarian like me, opt for Quorn, tofu, chickpeas, and soy products.
3. Take inventory of items before you throw them away.
If any food goes to waste, make note of what you threw away, how much, and why. Once you start paying attention, you’ll notice patterns and you can make changes. For example, do you always throw away lettuce in the winter? Maybe salads aren’t your thing when it’s cold outside.
4. Only buy items you like to eat.
Sounds obvious but sometimes we buy items because we’re inspired by someone else’s Instagram feed. Sure their Detox Omega-3 Salmon bowl looks inspiring but when it comes down to it, you don’t really like salmon. You’ll waste less food if you’re honest with yourself about your likes and dislikes.
5. Plan your meals with an open refrigerator, not a recipe book.
When we follow recipes we buy specific ingredients, ignoring what we have on hand and throwing away items we don’t use. Instead, try looking in your fridge for something that may expire soon and using that ingredient to inspire a meal.
6. Buy mostly neutral foods that pair with a variety of cuisines, then add a few pops of flavour.
We’re more likely to waste foods that serve only one purpose. Stocking your kitchen is like building a wardrobe; buy mostly neutral items like whole grains, long-life vegetables, and high-quality proteins. Then choose just a few bold flavours at a time like fresh herbs or gourmet cheeses to make your meals taste amazing.
7. Keep your pantry stocked.
Having a pantry stocked with items that have a long shelf life like grains, beans, oils, and vinegar means you’ll only need to add a few fresh items to the mix weekly. Having a full pantry and fewer fresh items means less food will go to waste yet you’ll always have something for dinner.