As I’ve mentioned before, I hate food waste. It makes me so mad when I have to throw away that cucumber that went soft or the tomatoes that got wrinkly. I might as well just toss money in the garbage.
Equally, I hate getting home from work and the gym and having no idea what I am going to make for supper. Suddenly, you have a house full of food and you find yourself saying “we have nothing to eat!” This typically leads to, lets order pizza or go out.
Meal planning is the perfect solution to both of these problems! I can have you meal planning and reducing your food waste in just 4 easy steps.
1. Check Your Fridge & Pantry First:
When you are preparing to meal plan for the week, month or whatever time frame works best for you, the first thing you must do is an inventory of your current food. This is particularly important with perishable items. If you have tomatoes that only have a couple of days left in them you want to ensure that you are planning for a meal that contains tomatoes. Or if you have a bunch of leftovers in the fridge, maybe you want to plan a “leftover day” rather than buying food for that meal. This will greatly help with reducing your overall food waste.
2. Plan Every Meal:
When I meal plan, I write down exactly what I plan to make for supper every night of the week. This way, when I come home from work and the gym, I can get right to cooking rather than staring into the fridge with a blank stare. After I have planned out suppers, I take a look at lunches. I personally like leftovers for lunch so I often make extra portions of supper for the next day. However, there are some meals that just don’t make good leftovers. So I take a look at which days I know I will have leftovers and which days will require a different lunch. Then I can plan a to purchase a few specific lunch items for those other days rather than eating out for lunch. If you have kids, planning their lunches for the week will again, save you the headache of deciding what to put in their lunch and can reduce food waste by planning and purchasing only what items you need for their weekly lunches. As for breakfasts, I typically don’t meal plan these but just have all the staples on hand at any given time -milk, bread, cereal, eggs, oatmeal, etc.
3. Use Ingredients Multiple Times:
When purchasing perishable items like produce, you want to ensure that they are going to be used up before they go bad in your fridge. Therefore, if I am making a meal that I know only will use up about 1/2 a zucchini, I ensure that I have another meal planned during the week that will use up the rest of the zucchini. I know sometimes, this can get difficult when I get overactive on Pinterest and just want to make a ton of different recipes, but it really will help cut down on food waste and ultimately, your grocery bill!
4. Make A Shopping List:
This is one of the best and easiest pieces of advice. You should never enter a grocery store without a shopping list. If you have planned out your weekly meals and checked what ingredients you already have, then it is very easy to put together a list of exactly what you need. This also makes grocery shopping very efficient. I like to get in and out of the grocery store. So I even separate my list based on the aisles so that I don’t have to backtrack because I have forgotten an ingredient.
Also, having a shopping list and sticking to it also helps reduce the amount of unhealthy food that you purchase. I know that when I have my list, I am focused on getting what I need. Since I pretty well never have on my list chips or cookies, I don’t even enter that aisle. Therefore, the temptation is removed. If you are just meandering around the store and going up and down every aisle deciding what to buy you are likely going to stumble into that junk food aisle and end up with a few extra items in your basket.
Once you get used to meal planning and writing out your grocery lists in this way it becomes second nature. And you will find yourself eating healthier meals, being less stressed about what to make for dinner and reducing your grocery bill.
Do you meal plan? Do you have any tips for reducing food waste?