Wasting food is a major issue all over the world. While this is a known fact, many people struggle to either find ways to help reduce their waste or just understand why cutting food waste is important. Fortunately, plenty of innovation to reduce food waste exists, and it’s easy enough to start making a difference.
If you’re someone who’s been asking “how can you reduce food waste?”, this guide will help you answer that question and more by covering the following:
- What is food waste reduction?
- Why is reducing food waste important?
- How to reduce food waste: 7 easy ways to minimize wastage
- 5 best products to help reduce your food waste
- 8 great resources to check out for more food waste prevention tips
Before we discuss how to minimize food waste at home, let’s build our understanding of waste reduction and its benefits.
Want more tips on composting? Don’t forget to check out our guide on how to compost in an apartment.
What is food waste reduction?
So what is food waste reduction? The term refers to methods used to decrease the amount of waste that is generated. This includes everything from food waste reduction strategies to technology to reduce food waste. With the many ways to reduce household food waste, everyone can practice food waste recycling in their own way.
Many people assume that reducing food loss is a very effortful and time-consuming task. But it’s much simpler than it seems. By making small and simple changes in your daily life, you can actively participate in minimizing food loss. In this article, you can find some great tips and resources for creating a waste-free kitchen.
Why is reducing food waste important?
Reducing food waste is important is because it can have a huge economic and environmental impact on the world. Every year, around one third of the food produced for consumption is wasted, resulting in a huge loss of money and opportunity. Also, our global food waste counts for 30% of greenhouse gas emissions.
As the data on our discarded food suggests, making an effort to implement food loss and waste reduction will help improve the economy for all, while also helping to lower greenhouse gas emissions and protect the planet from climate change.
Still wondering why we should reduce food waste? Here are some of the top benefits of reducing food waste:
- Helps us save our money
- Reduces our carbon footprints
- Preserves energy and resources
- Lowers the price of produce and other products made with fruits and vegetables
- Creates opportunities for food security in low-income communities
How to reduce food waste: 7 easy ways to minimize wastage
When it comes to how to reduce food waste, there are plenty of food waste prevention tips that are very easy to adapt into your life. These practical tips are some of the best ways to reduce food waste that you can start doing today.
1. Plan your meals
An easy way to avoid having excess food in your home and limiting your household waste is to plan your meals every week. Spend one night choosing all your meals for the week and make a note of all the ingredients that are needed. This will give you a clear direction for the week’s meals and reduce wasted food by keeping you from accumulating food that serves you no purpose when shopping at your local Whole Foods or supermarket.
PRO TIP: Choose recipes that allow you to use up the perishable foods in your kitchen. Use an app like MyFoodways to discover recipes that use the ingredients you have available.
2. Shop smarter
A lot of wasted food comes from buying things we don’t end up eating. When you’re shopping at grocery stores, be sure to buy less food by prioritizing only what you need for your weekly meals, which means avoiding any bulk discounts and items with discounted prices that you don’t actually need. You can also help reduce waste in your community by purchasing fruits and vegetables with physical imperfections that are typically ignored by shoppers but are otherwise still perfectly edible food.
PRO TIP: Plan ahead and write out a shopping list before you go, so you’ll know exactly what you need to buy. Sticking to your list will also help you save money.
3. Store your foods wisely
To ensure your food is able to be used while it’s still fresh, you need to make sure to store food correctly. In order to store food properly, you need to know what items should be placed in the fridge and the pantry, use airtight containers, and set your fridge to a more sustainable temperature. You should also opt for a first in, first out (FIFO) method for storing your items - noting the food labels and date labels on all packaged foods - so your oldest items are consumed first and you can better adhere to food safety measures.
PRO TIP: Try using products that help with food preservation. Devices like the Bluapple can be placed in your fridge to protect ethylene sensitive produce and keep your produce fresher for longer.
4. Take a small portion to start
One of the biggest ways we generate food scraps is by taking more food than we can eat. When dining in at home, start with smaller portions and go back for seconds if you’re still hungry. If you’re dining out, be sure to only order meals you know you can finish and/or ask members of your group to share larger dishes with you.
PRO TIP: When you go out to eat, be mindful of how much food you’re ordering and make sure to ask your server how big meals, sides, and appetizers are when you’re unsure. This will help you make better waste-conscious decisions and save money.
5. Make use of your leftovers
If you end up cooking too much food for one of your meals, save your leftovers for the week ahead. Plan to take your leftovers for lunch the next day or have it again the next night. You can even turn your leftovers into brand new meals, such as incorporating your baked dishes or chicken carcass with soup stock to make a stew.
PRO TIP: If your leftovers are still good but you’re not in the mood to eat them right away, you can always stick them in your freezer for the right time. Just be sure to set a reminder for yourself so you’ll remember to go back and finish them later.
6. Compost your kitchen scraps
Many of our kitchen scraps are actually food that can be composted. You can avoid throwing your scraps away, and instead allow your kitchen waste (such as vegetable scraps or rotten produce) to decompose into compost, offering a way to fertilize and improve soil. This is a much more helpful method of food waste management as it gives back to the planet, rather than harming it once it arrives at the landfill.
PRO TIP: Try an electric composter for quick and mess-free composting! Using Lomi can even help you accelerate the composting process by breaking down your organic waste into nutrient-rich dirt.
7. Share your food
If you’re left with large quantities of perfectly good food you know you or your family won’t eat, you can consider sharing it with others. Offer to give it to your neighbors, friends, or coworkers who would be grateful for it. You can also look into donating any surplus food (even if it’s slightly past its expiry date) to local charities and food banks in need.
PRO TIP: If you don’t know your neighbors very well, you can use different sites and apps to find people interested in your food. Consider trying an app like Olio to find people nearby who are interested in taking your food off your hands.
5 best products to help reduce your food waste
When it comes to reducing your food waste, there are plenty of new technologies for waste reduction that can help. These are a few of the best products to reduce food waste.
Lomi is an innovative kitchen appliance that breaks down food waste into nutrient-rich dirt. Simply place your approved food and organics inside Lomi, and you’ll be able to create dirt that can be tossed or used to accelerate the composting process. You can also create dirt to garden and/or grow food by using Lomi’s Grow mode.
Price: $499 (pricing plans available)
Product category: Kitchen composter
What’s great about it: Using Lomi to decompose waste lessens GHG emissions, including methane.
Why you need it: Lomi’s ability to break down fruits, vegetables, and more waste into nutrient-rich dirt allows you to eliminate waste, turning your wasted food into valuable resources and giving back to the environment.
Bluapple is a small device for your fridge that helps keep your food fresh for longer. It works by absorbing the ethylene gas concentrated in your fridge that leads to your produce going to waste. Placing Bluapple in your fridge helps keep your food fresh for longer, so you have time to enjoy your produce and reduce spoilage.
Price: $11.99 for a 2-pack
Product category: Food preservation
What’s great about it: Helps absorb the gasses in your fridge that over-ripen your food.
Why you need it: Using Bluapple keeps the produce in your fridge fresh for up to 3 times longer.
The Smarter FridgeCam is a must-have for anyone who tends to forget what they already have at home. The smart camera takes a photo of all the food in your fridge every time you close the door, allowing you to stay up-to-date on what you have, wherever you are. It’s also able to recognize individual items and add them to your shopping list when they run out, allowing you to make smarter shopping decisions.
Product category: Grocery organization
What’s great about it: The smart camera captures images of fridge contents, so you always know what you have and when items need to be replaced.
Why you need it: Using the FridgeCam prevents you from purchasing items you don’t need, while also adding items you run out of to your shopping list.
MyFoodways is a free app that helps you discover recipes that use the ingredients you have at home. The app gives you personalized meal suggestions based on your preferences that allow you to use the contents of your kitchen and avoid wasting food. It also allows you to save your favorite recipes, so you’ll never have to wonder what to make for dinner again.
Product category: Recipe app
What’s great about it: Offers personalized meal suggestions based on the contents of your kitchen and your preferences.
Why you need it: Using the app allows you to discover new recipes made with the ingredients you already have, allowing you to make use of food that might otherwise go to waste.
Olio is an app that allows users to share food, utensils, and more with their neighbors. The app allows you to post your excess food and other available items on the app, where other local users will be able to see what you have available. It’s a great way to avoid wasting things you no longer need, while also helping out people in your community.
Price: Free to download; subscriptions available for $2.49/month or $6.99/year.
Product category: Food-sharing app
What’s great about it: Allows you to share and find surplus food and other items with people nearby.
Why you need it: The app allows you to safely post items you have available and search for items you need, so you and your neighbors can find what they need and reduce waste.
8 great resources to check out for more food waste prevention tips
There are plenty of solutions to reduce food waste that are helpful, and every bit of effort counts. If you’d like to learn more tips to reduce food waste at home and more, check out these other resources, all of which include scientific references:
- How to reduce food waste - A 2019 article from Medical News Today discussing 16 different ways to reduce waste at home, school, and work.
- The (Almost) Zero-Waste Guide: 100+ Tips for Reducing Your Waste Without Changing Your Life - A 2021 book by journalist Melanie Mannarino that explores a variety of ways you can live a more sustainable life and reduce your carbon footprint.
- 5 tips to reduce food waste - A short 2021 video from the UN Environment Programme that covers the negative impact of food loss and waste and easy tips on how we can begin to make a difference.
- 20 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Food Waste - A 2017 article from Healthline detailing 20 tips for easily reducing waste, along with important information.
- The Zero Waste Chef: Plant-Forward Recipes and Tips for a Sustainable Kitchen and Planet - A 2021 cookbook by Anne-Marie Bonneau that’s full of great recipes that will help you maintain a zero waste kitchen.
- Food Waste causes Climate Change. Here’s how we stop it. - A 2020 video essay from Our Changing Climate that explores how our waste is impacting the planet and the simple solutions that can help reduce our waste.
- 15 Simple Tips to Tackle Food Waste at Home - A 2018 article from Nature Fresh Farms covering easy shopping, storage, cooking, and sharing tips that will help you reduce your waste.
- Food Waste, Global Hunger & You | #StopTheWaste - A short 2020 video from the World Food Programme detailing statistics and what can be done to make a difference.
Now that you know of some ways to reduce household food waste, it’s time to think about what food waste reduction methods you’d like to try. If you’re interested in exploring some of the new technology to reduce food waste, check out what people are saying about Lomi.
Written by: Karyn Little