Waste Not, Want Not

Waste comes in many forms, but today we’re going to talk about one kind of waste: food waste.

According to a recent study, food waste has gone up by 50% since 1974. Thrifty-minded homemakers probably throw away much less than the national average, but still, waste is something that plagues most American households.

Even if you “purchase” an item for free, wasting it is still bad for the food budget. You will have to purchase something else to replace the tossed item.

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5 Ways to Avoid Food Waste

Completely empty the bottle before opening another. Whether it’s dressing or sauce, make sure you finish out the bottle first. Once a new one is opened, it’s too much of a hassle to “rescue” the last few drops in the old one.

Freeze ripe pieces of fruit before they go bad. Bananas, pineapple, strawberries and even apples and oranges can be used in smoothies. Start a freezer container for extra fruit and save it for smoothie time.

Properly store produce: Bananas and tomatoes don’t store well in the fridge. Potatoes and onions can keep for weeks/months in a cool dry place. Regularly sort through the collection, weed out any products that are beginning to go bad and…

Prioritize what’s eaten: If you have a dozen apples in the fridge, look for any that have spots or dings and use them first. Perfect apples will keep much longer than dinged ones.

Eat leftovers: Do you ever pull out molding containers of spoiled food when clearing out the refrigerator? I have. It’s an awful feeling. Now two days a week “leftovers” are on the lunch menu. I have a leftover shelf and on leftover days we pull out leftovers and eat or freeze them. It’s cut down dramatically on waste!

These tips only barely scratch the surface! How do you help reduce waste in your kitchen?


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And now, join Jenn (from The Purposeful Mom) and me for our weekly Thrifty Thursday Blog Hop!

Posts about living frugally, thrifty tips and tricks, money-saving DIY projects and gardening, frugal recipes, and encouraging posts on financial stewardship are all welcome. Link up to either of our blogs–your post will be displayed in both places.

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Linked up at Hearts 4 Home Thursdays,Proverbs 31 Thursday, Our Simple Life, & Consider the Lillies

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  1. says

    We also eat leftovers quite often. 🙂 Great post, Anna. I don’t cook much so I don’t have any great ideas to add to your thoughts. 😀

  2. says

    Related to your points about prioritizing and eating leftovers, I would include planning. I find I do better with food waste if I plan a leftover night and incorporate the leftovers into the other weeknight dinners. I also try to be mindful of my time and our schedule when making a meal plan.

  3. Cindy @ Apron Strings and Apple Trees says

    Oh, thank you again for this link up opportunity. I have put my foot down with leftovers and wasting food… every day lunch time consists of either leftovers or sandwiches… no buts about it. That way I only have to fix one major meal a day.

    Cindy @ Apron Strings and Apple Trees

    • anna says

      Love that idea! It is so nice to have a warm, cooked meal for lunch without any extra prep!

      Thanks so much for linking up… love those felt toys!

  4. Brooke says

    If we have leftovers we usually have them for lunch. I cook 3 meals a day most days otherwise. If I have had something too long and it can be composted that’s what I do. If not it goes to our two little dogs to enjoy.

    • anna says

      Awww… where we live we can’t have pets without a prohibitive jump in rent. Someday, we hope to have a dog to share “old” leftovers with. 🙂

  5. says

    I love those ideas! We are trying to maintain a grocery list and plan meals and eat them! When we plan a meal but don’t make it, those menu ingredients get used in other dishes, but oftentimes not ALL of the menu ingredients do. So if I buy a perishable item for a dish and don’t make it, usually it will go to waste. We are trying to eat at home more (saves lot of money) as well.

    • anna says

      Good for you Nicole! Maybe if you had that perishable item on a dedicated shelf of “stuff that needs to be eaten” it would help it get used in time?

      Yes-eating at home is a huge money-saver! I grew up only going out to eat on very rare occasions. We go out maybe once a month now and I have had to learn to enjoy my husband treating me, rather than think “I could have made five good dinners for the cost of that burger!” 😉 (Yes, I’m borderline miserly. Working on that though!)

  6. says

    When we were really low on salad dressings, etc, my mom would put a little water in the bottle and swish it around to get every last drop out. 🙂 Great post, dear friend!

    • anna says

      Great idea! I do that with soap, but usually just let dressings “drip” upside down. Gonna have to try next time we’re low. 🙂

  7. says

    Great tips! The freezer is my friend when it comes to preventing food waste. I freeze guacamole, chicken carcasses and giblets to make chicken stock, milk before it goes bad, celery to use in stocks, herbs, etc. If there’s a way to freeze it, I will. I also compost, so all those food scraps and the things I don’t catch before they go bad aren’t really being wasted.

  8. says

    Hi, Anna
    I saw your comment on my blog and hopped over to meet you. i shared a post about our frugal adventure of getting out of debt and living debt free. I hope it helps your readers. Thanks for coming by my blog for a visit.

    • anna says

      Awww, thanks so much! I just barely discovered your blog and am loving it.. now if only I can find more than a five minute window to dig through all your archives! What a wealth of info. 🙂

  9. says

    This tip probably only applies to those with babies in the baby food stage, but it helped me feel like I wasn’t wasting. If we had leftover spaghetti, stroganoff, tacos and rice, chicken and dumplins, cooked vegetables etc., but not really enough to feed one or more people at another meal, I would put it in the blender with water and puree it for baby food. After that I could freeze it or keep it in the fridge if I knew I’d be needing it soon. It looks completely gross, but my kids loved it! And I was making them “homemade baby food” without a lot of extra effort.


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