10 WAYS TO REDUCE FOOD WASTE EVERY DAY

Before you declare yet another empty New Year's resolution, consider making a pledge that might actually stick. Reducing food waste not only helps the planet—it also can help you save money and eat more mindfully. Here are ten foolproof ways to make the most out of your food and your grocery budget in 2017:

  1. Plan your meals before you go shopping. Set aside 15 to 30 minutes during the weekend to plan your meals ahead of time and write up a grocery list for the week ahead. That way, you can get all your shopping done in one simple, streamlined trip to the store, and you can save money and avoid food waste by only purchasing what you need.
  2. Organize your fridge. Before every shopping trip and whenever you put a new food item in the refrigerator, take a moment to scope out what’s already in there. Is there a half-empty bag of [insert produce item here] hiding behind a stack of leftovers? Did you buy an extra carton of milk by accident? Check that your produce and meat is properly stored, and if anything looks like it’s about to go bad, either stick it in the freezer or make a note to use it immediately.
  3. Extend the shelf lives of perishables by storing them correctly. When a food has reached its sell-by or use-by date, that doesn’t necessarily mean it has gone bad. To learn how long you can store different foods safely in your kitchen, check out the FoodKeeper app, which was developed by USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, with Cornell University and the Food Marketing Institute.
  4. Store leftovers in individual portions in the fridge or freezer. Whenever a recipe makes enough for leftovers, divvy up the extras in individual portions so you know exactly how much you have for tomorrow’s lunch or another dinner later in the week or month. If you don’t think you’ll eat the leftovers in the next few days, stash them in the freezer to heat up whenever you need a quick meal.
  5. When entertaining, keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. If you love to host parties, invest in entertaining supplies that will help you maintain the correct temperatures of the foods you’re serving. That way, you won’t find yourself tossing out bags of food at the end of the night, and you’ll be able to take a break from cooking the next day as you munch on the leftovers.
  6. Take note of how much food you throw away. Just as someone starting a new diet might use a food journal to chronicle their eating habits, you might find that jotting down the amount of food you waste in a week will help keep you aware and accountable.
  7. Add a few leftover-friendly meals to your repertoire. Omelets, frittatas, pasta dishes, tortilla wraps, fried rice, and salads are all super-easy, impromptu meals that can accommodate any mishmash of ingredients and help you use up whatever’s left in the fridge at the end of the week.
  8. Save your scraps for stock. Instead of throwing out trimmed ends or peelings of celery, onion, carrots, mushrooms, potatoes, leeks, and other vegetables, make sure they’re clean, then dump them into a large zip-top bag and store them in the freezer. When the bag is full, dump the scraps into a large pot, cover them with water, and cook them for an hour or so to make homemade vegetable stock. The same goes for chicken carcasses and other animal bones.
  9. Revive or transform stale bread. If you notice that a baguette or loaf of bread is beginning to go stale, try reviving it in the oven, buzzing it into breadcrumbs, or making homemade croutons.
  10. Freeze extra dairy products. Instead of throwing away dairy products that are approaching their expiration dates, consider tossing them in the freezer for future use. Items that can be frozen include: butter, buttermilk, hard cheeses (except for shredded or grated Parmesan), homemade whipped cream, half-and-half, heavy cream, raw eggs without shells, milk, and yogurt.