1. Shop smart and realistically. Try going to the grocery store more often and buying less, rather than going less often and buying more. Plan out your meals ahead of time and stick to your shopping list. Also be sure to check out farmers’ markets for locally sourced produce and other foods.
2. When cooking for a crowd, try not to over-serve your guests. Massive portion sizes from restaurant culture are starting to find their way into our own homes. Serve friends and family food on smaller plates, making it harder to over-do it.
3. Make sure you are storing fruits and vegetables in the proper place to make them last longer. Here is an A-Z list of how and where to store your produce.
4. Try to avoid clutter in your fridge, freezer and pantry. When foods are hidden in a messy fridge, they often spoil before you get to use them. Implement a first in, first out policy for your kitchen.
5. Keep track of the food that you are throwing away. Start a waste log to see how much you are actually throwing out, and try to prevent yourself from doing the same in the future.
6. Donate to food banks, shelters, or local churches. When you have excess food that you know you will not be able to consume before it goes bad, look into banks and charities where you can bring items to. Give to people in need before you give to the dumpster.
7. Try canning and pickling! Canning is a great way to preserve food and prolong shelf life.
8. Look into composting. On the (hopefully!) rare occasion that you have to get rid of food, compost it instead of throwing it in the trash. City of Austin offers free classes for those looking to start composting at home, or you can save your fruit and veggie scraps, tea leaves, coffee grounds, and egg shells and find a nearby composting organization that can accept your scraps. Check out the map of drop sites from Austin’s Compost Coalition.
9. Save and actually eat your leftovers. Leftovers can be eaten as is, or you can get creative and incorporate them into a new meal. With Thanksgiving coming next month, leftovers will be plentiful in many households. One of my mom’s favorite ways to use leftover turkey from the holidays is by creating a “turkey potpie.” Use your favorite potpie recipe, but replace the chicken with turkey. Leftover green beans, potatoes, corn, and more can be added into it as well!
Happy Food Saving!