Nutrition Articles

5 Ways to Prevent Food from Going to Waste

Don't Kick Food Waste to the Curb--Prevent It


Plan to preserve.
Consider preserving your own food if you don't have time to eat it before it goes bad. Pickling, canning, drying (dehydrating) and freezing are all ways to extend the shelf life of many fresh fruits, vegetables and meats. We often only think of cucumbers when it comes to pickling, but in reality, almost any vegetable can be pickled. Canning your own fruits, vegetables, sauces and soups can be a fun family event, and it can make farm-fresh foods available all winter. Raisins are dried grapes, but have you ever considered drying mango, pineapple or apple slices? This can be done in a food dehydrator or on a low setting in your oven. However you do it, drying fruit is a great way to make your own grab-and-go snacks and to prevent fruit from going bad.

The freezer is often underutilized. Bread, scrambled egg mix, leftover coffee, tea, and broths can all be frozen for later use. Your homemade soup, cooked rice and other dinner entrees can also be frozen if you don't have a chance to eat the leftovers in time. Try using an ice cube try to store single serving pieces of purees, sauces and beverages. Freeze leftover coffee for an iced coffee drink, or a cube of frozen veggie broth to whip up some gravy later in the week. Make smoothies down the road by freezing mashed or chopped fruit. Almost anything can be frozen except for canned foods in the can (although they can usually be removed and frozen) and eggs in the shell. The USDA’s Freezing and Food Safety information sheet offers tips on freezing food and thawing it successfully.

Keep your eyes on the size.
Serving up the correct portion size can help stretch you food dollars and eliminate waste created from uneaten portions—not to mention cut calories for weight management! You should be getting two servings from each boneless, skinless chicken breast. If you’re cooking for one or two, cut your meat into the correct portion sizes and freeze the rest that you won’t eat right away. Stick to these proper portions to feed more people per dollar and cut down on what you may be scraping off the plate!

Throwing away (or composting) food should be your last resort if you can't eat it or preserve it first. When food lands in a landfill, it's out of sight, out of mind. So what's the big deal? Well, food and lawn waste makes up 25% of all waste in landfills, which are so densely packed that oxygen isn't readily available. When oxygen is lacking during the decomposition process, the food emits methane gas, which is 20 times more toxic than carbon dioxide. All this methane is bad for the environment, and the inhospitable conditions of landfills make it difficult if not impossible for natural materials like food to break down properly. Each ton of organic matter we can divert from a landfill can save 1/3 of a ton of greenhouse gases from being emitted into the environment. Plus, composting can provide you with your very own "black gold" for free, allowing you to condition and enrich your soil, saving money and turning your food into nutritious fertilizer that will nourish future plants.
Continued ›
‹ Previous Page   Page 2 of 3   Next Page ›

Advertisement -- Learn more about ads on this site.

About The Author

Sarah Haan Sarah Haan
Sarah is a registered dietitian with a bachelor's degree in dietetics. She helps individuals adopt healthy lifestyles and manage their weight. An avid exerciser and cook, Sarah likes to run, lift weights and eat good food. See all of Sarah's articles.

Member Comments

  • my last resort is not compost it is feed it to the chickens or pigs! - 10/8/2015 4:22:31 AM
    A note on the wasting of the food scraps:
    I have worms. You can get some worms and they will eat all the scraps from the table. (just no meat, dairy, very sour stuff) they will make you the BEST compost and the BEST plant food you will ever have. I does not stink and is very very east to do, I even forget about mine. - 10/7/2015 3:13:35 AM
    One great thing I discovered to do with broccoli stalks is peel the outer woody layer off with a paring knife and shred what is left and make broccoli slaw. Yum! - 10/6/2015 4:30:00 PM
    I put leftovers into plastic or glass containers, use a "stick em" note to write what's in there and the date. The most food wasted is always the vegetables and fruits, since we began the eating healthy plan, some Expert needs to finally admit that we toss a lot of that stuff because it doesn't really appeal to us to eat it in the first place, be honest, people!! I've had better luck with frozen veggies, just to make the family get in their veggies each day, but, seriously, salad stuff gets old because my family is not thrilled to eat salads, at least cabbage and cauliflower last longer in the fridge. There is reason that the Experts have to keep nagging us about produce, and have been nagging for Decades!! - 10/6/2015 1:23:45 PM
  • I had been losing food in the refrigerator, so I started labeling the leftover containers. I use masking tape and a sharpie. Works great, and I know what I have, so not as much goes to waste. I also mark things that go in the freezer. That really helps me keep track of prepared foods. - 10/6/2015 10:27:55 AM
    I try freezing leftovers into small containers for days I don't have time to cook, it works for us - 10/6/2015 6:13:57 AM
  • I tried the idea of planning my meals ahead and writing them on a chart but found I frequently needed to change, for example, one day I planned a meal that takes a long time to cook and didn't get home in time so I use index cards with the meals (and shopping necessities and which cookbook the recipe is in) on them. Then if I need to change I just shuffle the cards remembering that I do have ingredients in the fridge to be used up. I do pair meals that use the same ingredient, for example, mushrooms in the same week so less waste. I post them on a magnetic clip on the refrigerator so I remember to get frozen food out to thaw and my family can read them which eliminates "What's for dinner?" questions. - 7/3/2015 7:47:45 PM
  • I used to buy groceries once a week and lost most of it at the back of the fridge and much of it would get tossed at the end of the week. I now buy more frequently and waste way less. - 9/28/2014 6:10:14 PM
  • I HAD been tossing spoiled spinach into my compost bin way too often. Then a friend told me I should freeze part of the bag and just keep enough fresh for salad use. Frozen is great for smoothies and cooked dishes. No more wasted spinach now. - 9/28/2014 9:16:30 AM
  • Great info. I also freeze small amounts of left over veggies in snack size bags and they all go in the next veggie soup which I make every few weeks. The soup is different depending on what is on hand but always delicious. - 9/28/2014 7:19:05 AM
  • Great ideas.. Thanks SP :) - 9/28/2014 7:01:38 AM
  • This is a subject that I thought I was on top of, and turns out, I'm not. I can do a lot more! Thanks. - 8/9/2014 7:48:24 AM
  • I liked the suggestions for what can be done with scraps & leftovers. - 7/21/2014 8:59:15 PM
  • Good article...motivat
    ing! And I enjoy reading the comments from others. There are a lot of good thoughts there, too. By the way, some foods ARE good for your dog, but please check with your vet first as was suggested. - 4/10/2014 5:25:42 PM
    m/ - 10/14/2013 1:22:04 PM

x Lose 10 Pounds by January 12! Sign up with Email Sign up with Facebook
By clicking one of the above buttons, you're indicating that you have read and agree to SparkPeople's Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy and that you're at least 18 years of age.