5 Ways to Not to Throw Tons of Food Away at the End of the Week

  Source: Sistah of the Yam  Image of Taylor’s grocery haul. Pictured is sweet potatoes, grains, greens, beans, and other vegetables on her countertop.

Source: Sistah of the Yam Image of Taylor’s grocery haul. Pictured is sweet potatoes, grains, greens, beans, and other vegetables on her countertop.

We all have done it one time or another.

Gone grocery shopping while hungry and unorganized and come back home with the following:

  • Extra snacks that we may or may not need

  • Another bag of spinach while we already have one rotting away in the crisper

  • Forgetting a key ingredient that we need for dinner that night

  • Running out of food too soon OR having so much food that it gets moldy and we end up throwing half of it away anyway

These things usually leave us feeling defeated, frustrated … and, well, broke.

I want to share some tips that I have helped me shop more wisely and not waste food. I recommend reading them over, start with ONE to practice, and finding an accountability partner (e.g. a spouse, partner, bff, co-worker, etc) that you can check in with to keep you on point!

1) Be Realistic, Not Idealistic

  Source: @tropicallylina  Image of a open refrigerator overflowing with fresh, colorful produce from top to bottom.

Source: @tropicallylina Image of a open refrigerator overflowing with fresh, colorful produce from top to bottom.

Forget what your “health inspo” folks are doing on social media or pinterest.

Instead, focus on YOU and YOUR life.

Pretty fridges overflowing with fresh fruit, coconut water, and homemade green juices are nice to look at but don’t beat yourself up if your fridge doesn’t look like that.

It is CRUCIAL to be realistic about how your life is set up and what the rhythm of your week is like.

Begin with following questions:

  • How often am I actually home?

  • Do I (and the people in my household) travel on the weekends or constantly commuting?

  • How often do I eat out (and are you actually going to eat those leftovers? - Tell the truth!)

  • How often do I cook at home? How much time to do I have to cook and/or prep meals?

  • What foods are our staples?

  • What foods do we only get on occasion or rarely?

It is only once you can honestly answer these questions, that you can be clearer on your intentions.

There is no right or wrong answer to any of these questions; if you have a job that requires you to travel every weekend, you may need to buy less food or shop as needed vs. once a week OR if you work from home, you may need to make sure that your fridge and pantry is always stocked for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.

It is CRUCIAL to be realistic about how your life is set up and what the rhythm of your week is like.

2) Shop Around

  Source: Boise Weekly  Image of the produce section of a food co-op. Pictured are yellow and red tomatoes and avocados.

Source: Boise Weekly Image of the produce section of a food co-op. Pictured are yellow and red tomatoes and avocados.

I learned this one from my mama. Growing up, I hated grocery shopping with her because we never went to just one store. As an adult I can appreciate how much my mom was saving loads of money!

  • Figure out what stores (in person and online) have the best prices AND quality

  • Take advantage of online and wholesale stores like Thrive Market, iHerb, and Costco

  • Become a member of your local food co-op (you’ll save money, be investing yourself and your community, and getting for local foods)

  • Download your grocery store’s app and take advantage of weekly deals and discounts

  • Split up the grocery shopping tasks amongst your family and friends (i.e. I do the shopping at our co-op and my husband does the Costco shopping)

3) Eat a high protein and fiber-rich meal beforehand

Most people know that you’re supposed to eat before your go grocery shopping, but most people are eating the wrong types of food.

Eating a bag of chips, some fries, a granola bar, or a latte is going to cut it!

You will get hungry. And, you will end up buying at least one thing that you didn’t intend on buying.

Eating something high in protein (at least 20g) will give your body energy and make you feel satiated for the 1-3 hours your are shopping and traveling. The fiber is especially important because it will ensure that any carbs you are eating won’t cause a spike in your blood sugar and it will also make sure you digest your food properly.

  Source: Girl in the Little Red Kitchen  Image of a vibrant potato and root vegetable hash in a turquoise baking dish in the middle of wooden table.

Source: Girl in the Little Red Kitchen Image of a vibrant potato and root vegetable hash in a turquoise baking dish in the middle of wooden table.

Here are some ideas:

  • Oatmeal (not the processed kind). - Load it with nuts/nut butter and seeds (i.e. chia, hemp, flax).

  • Protein smoothie - Include things like leafy greens (for quick energy), a healthy fat - coconut, avocado, nuts/nut butter, seeds - (for better vitamin absorption), oats or granola, nut milk, quality protein powder, organic tofu, fresh or frozen fruit. Sip it before or while you are in route.

  • Savory vegetable hash - Roast or lightly sauté some grounding vegetables (i.e. squash, potatoes, carrots, beets) in some garlic and onions. Throw some lentils, mushrooms, greens, or tempeh (fermented soy) in there. Cook with circulatory spices like curry powder, black pepper, allspice, or turmeric.

  • Hummus and veggie sandwich wrap - Load your whole wheat tortilla or bread with lots of hummus, veggies, and greens. Don’t forget to season and add some cilantro, parsley, or dill for an extra kick.

4) Take a picture of your receipt

  Source: Nicole Dieker  Image of zoomed in grocery receipt from Trader Joe’s.

Source: Nicole Dieker Image of zoomed in grocery receipt from Trader Joe’s.

Nowadays, stores don’t always print out or physically hand you your receipt. Some even give you the option of texting or emailing it to you. The problem with this is, you never see it which means you don’t see the amount of money you just spent on food.

If you were to regularly see that you spent $100 a week on food, yet half that food went to waste, you would figure out how to keep that from happening.

Most of us wouldn’t go out to eat and tell the waiter that they can bag up half our meal and put it in the trash, so why do we do this when we grocery shop?

Seeing an actual picture of your receipt is a reminder that already spent money. Sending that picture to someone can help keep your accountable. It also will help you look for patterns in your shopping.

5) Store your food properly

This is one of the biggest reasons why we throw out food: we never stored it properly to begin with.

Tossing a head of lettuce in the back of your fridge when you come home from the store is a recipe for disaster.

Leaving parsley on your shelf is self sabotage.

Before plants are harvested, they were connected to the roots, to the soil, and to nutritious bacteria. Once harvested, loaded on a truck, and brought to your grocery story they disconnected from their life force! This is why they can wilt so quickly.

  Source: Vegetable Gardener (Pinterest)  Image of a bunch of cilantro sitting in a jar of water on a beige countertop.

Source: Vegetable Gardener (Pinterest) Image of a bunch of cilantro sitting in a jar of water on a beige countertop.

Below are a few tips to prevent this from happening:

  • Try leaving your herbs in a cup of water (like a flower bouquet) in your fridge. Pick what you need day to day, but leave in them in the water. This will keep them fresh for a couple of weeks AND will remind you to use them.

  • Store your greens in a covered container with a little water. The water will keep them nice and crisp for up to 3-4 weeks. If you don’t have time to do this right when you get home, add some water to you grocery bag tie to tightly to give you some extra time.

  • Store carrots in a mason jar filled with water to the brim. This will keep them nice and crisp for 2-3 weeks.

  • Store seeds, grains, flour, and coffee in the fridge or freezer. This will extend their life.

  • Separate avocados from the rest of your fruit. This will allow them to gradually ripen and instead of ripening too quickly.

  • Blanch and freeze greens, tomatoes, and herbs in the colder months. These foods are usually added to soups, stews, and broths in the fall and winter. Freezing will preserve the freshness.

I hope that these tips help!

Remember to take a deep breath, begin with the questions that I asked at the beginning, and aim to focus on ONE area of improvement.

What are some of your tips for eliminating food waste? Comment below!

Most of us wouldn’t go out to eat and tell the waiter that they can bag up half our meal and put it in the trash, so why do we do this when we grocery shop?