chopped vegetables in meal prep Tupperware to reduce food waste

How to Plan and Prep Meals to Reduce Food Waste

Food waste is gaining attention as a key issue affecting the environment. According to the NRDC, up to 40 percent of the food in this country is wasted. Why does food waste matter? Food requires a lot of energy, water, and materials to be produced, processed, and transported. When food is wasted, it’s like throwing away fuel and water, and that’s definitely not sustainable. The good news is that there are some simple ways that you can reduce food waste in your own kitchen!

A sure way to reduce food waste is planning meals carefully and prepping food in advance. This can help ensure that all of the food you buy actually gets eaten, eliminating food waste from your kitchen. Here are some tips to help you start reducing food waste today:

Planning is Key

It’s fun to be creative in the kitchen! Yet, planning (most of) your meals in advance helps you buy only the groceries you need. It also helps you use up every last ingredient.

Find a method that works for you; a written list, an app, or a calendar. Then, commit to setting aside time once a week to plan out the next week’s meals. You can also try to think of meals that can use some of the same ingredients (like ground beef tacos one night and meatballs the next). Make sure your meals are ones your family will actually enjoy so that even the leftovers are consumed.

Try a Prepping Blitz

After planning your meals and shopping for the week’s groceries, figure out what can be prepared in advance.

Then, schedule an afternoon to prepare ingredients, sauces, and even entire meals in advance. You could pre-form meatballs and stick them in the freezer until you need them or dice several cups of onions to keep in the fridge. Many casseroles can be assembled in advance and baked right before dinner. You can even pre-cut fruits and veggies for your kids’ lunches while you’re at it.

Having everything ready to go will dissuade you from choosing takeout on a busy weekday night, and none of your groceries will languish in the fridge.

Maximize Your Freezer

While planning and prepping will go a long way toward eliminating your food waste, you’ll still end up with leftovers that you’re not sure what to do with.

Rather than tossing that last half cup of tomato sauce or the half bunch of herbs, stick them in the freezer and incorporate them into future meals. Freezing herbs, tomato sauce, or broth in ice cube trays keeps these items organized and ready to use. Fruit that’s about to go bad can also be frozen for future smoothies, and vegetable scraps can be saved for the next time you make broth.

These strategies, combined with sustainable habits like composting, can dramatically reduce the impact of food waste. As a bonus, you’ll have less stressful grocery trips and faster weeknight dinners because of your planning and meal prep. For more ideas on living an eco-friendly life, contact us!

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