5 Creative Ways to Cut Back on Food Waste

QOTD: Share some tips with us on how you work to decrease the amount of food waste in the trash can! 

One of my biggest pet peeves is food waste. Throwing away leftovers and sour milk makes me cringe, and I can’t help but think about how this extra trash could have been minimized if only the food had been consumed perhaps a day or two earlier. That’s a lot of money wasted. Not to mention the kids starving in third world countries and the damage being done to the environment.

Obviously food waste can’t be completely avoided, but there are several ways to make sure your trash can isn’t smelling of rotten bananas and days-old chow mein at the end of the week. Here are some tips that I’ve learned during my one-and-a-half years as a college student so far:

1. Look in the fridge every morning. Peer around to see if there are any leftovers or almost-empty cartons of milk that you could down for breakfast or pack up for a quick lunch. 

2. Actually use your fridge. I used to make the mistake of leaving leftovers or other food out, thinking that I would eat it later for a snack. Eight times out of ten, I didn’t. I became too immersed in my homework (it happens) or something else came up or I just simply forgot–which left that sad Panera sandwich sitting all by itself for hours. Then when I came back from whatever I was doing, I had no choice but to throw it out. Now, I put food into the fridge no matter what I say I plan on doing. 

3. Only buy as much as you can eat. I have a bad habit of spending too much money on too much food. I listen to my stomach more than I reason, and in the end I’m not realistic about how big it (my stomach) really is. My goal for the next couple of months is learn how to estimate correctly the amount of food I can consume in one sitting and apply that to my food purchases. 

4. Split a meal with a friend. There’s this great Indian eatery in our dining hall that serves the most delicious chicken curry combo. Only problem is, the serving is huge! It comes with two sides, naan and even rice; the price of each combo is a whopping $8.50. But these combos are just too good to pass. So I’ve made a habit of splitting the combo with a friend and it works out great–I get to save money and save food but still savor the spicy goodness of Sitar. 

5. Low on a lot of basic ingredients? Mix ’em all together! Yesterday, I was roaming around my kitchen for something to eat for lunch and decided on macaroni and cheese (my all-time favorite food, you know!). Normally I just melt some butter and Velveeta with the noodles, but it turned out I had a lot of random foods — like an almost-empty container of butter and three slices of honey ham left — that I needed to finish off. So I got creative.

Ingredients: Butter, Velveeta cheese, Vermont white cheddar cheese, whole milk, Boar’s Head honey ham, and macaroni noodles. 

The end result? A load of empty containers/boxes/bags and pure cheesy, buttery, ham-y heaven. 
Yes, I do eat macaroni and cheese with garlic salt!

10 responses to “5 Creative Ways to Cut Back on Food Waste”

  1. Mia Hayson says:

    Nice! Mmmm! I use my freezer a lot, or else I end up eating the same thing for a few days rather than waste it. Haha. I’d rather be stuck eating soup all week than throw it out anyway.



  2. cherie says:

    I absolutely hate wasting food. But since I cook dinner every night for the family, I have a good sense of how much we actually need and use. So I go grocery shopping once a week, armed with a detailed list of what I need for the week (along with what recipes I am making for each night). Organizing and prepping is a pain (I normally hate to make lists) but it helps me a lot.

    You have good tips here for sure. Good luck and I’m so proud of you for being a responsible person. It’s too true that people from other places are starving–I know from experience. My fam in the Philippines used to have neighbors who would come and ask them for their leftover meal because they simply don’t have anything to eat at their home. So my mom would always give them fresh food to cook to help them out. Whenever I think of this, guilt creeps up and I’m reminded to not be wasteful just because I can.

  3. Lydia Kang says:

    Such great ideas. I need to do these things more often. :)

  4. Becca. says:

    fab tips! i love a good macaroni & cheese too :)

    thanks for the comment on my blog,

  5. Jeremy Bates says:

    Yes, food waste is crazy! If I may add one to your list, eat what you cook! Yes, this isn’t always possible, but when I cook, I do make an approximate amount of what I will consume. It really isn’t that hard.

    This morning I messed up, however. I thought I had washed the frying pan. I made some pancakes and they were beauties! As for the taste, um, not so much unless you like garlic pancakes. lol I ate them nevertheless.

  6. I grew up in a family that didn’t have a lot of money so we were forced to do these things. Waste was always terrible. I’ve kept the habit. It’s amazing the great dishes you can make out of left-overs!

  7. Deana says:

    My husband and I talk all the time about how we need to get better at this. Thanks for the suggestions so we can actually do it:)

  8. Talli Roland says:

    Those are great tips! We tend to use up every little scrap because we’re too lazy to head to the supermarket sometimes!

  9. we make a few different portions and put them in tupperware in the fridge. so we only go through one tupperware at a time. i find you waste less when it’s divided out like that, as opposed to it being in one big container.

    that mac n cheese looks yummy.

  10. Deana says:

    Oh, and I left you some awards:)

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