How to Throw Away Less Food From Your Fridge

How to Throw Away Less Food From Your Fridge

How to Throw Away Less Food From Your Fridge

Take Inventory and Meal Plan

The first step to reducing food waste is to take inventory of what you currently have in your fridge and pantry. I like to do a deep clean of my fridge once a week and take note of items that are close to expiring or produce that is starting to go bad.

After taking inventory, I’ll sit down and map out meals for the upcoming week based on the ingredients I already have on hand. This helps ensure I use up existing items before they expire. Some good tips for meal planning:

  • Plan recipes that use similar ingredients to minimize food waste. For example, if you have a lot of zucchini, plan multiple meals featuring it.

  • Be realistic about how many servings you need. Making too much food is a major source of waste.

  • Incorporate leftovers into your plan. Repurposing them cuts waste.

  • Note ingredients you still need to buy after using up existing items. Shop for upcoming meals, not randomness.

Store Food Correctly

Storing food properly helps extend its shelf life and reduces spoilage. Here are some storage tips:

  • Keep fridge below 40°F. Higher temps accelerate spoilage.

  • Store produce in crisper drawers, away from ethylene-producing fruits like apples.

  • Use glass containers to store leftovers versus plastic bags. They retain freshness better.

  • Freeze extra meat/bread if you won’t use it in time. Portion it out first.

  • Keep track of dates on frozen foods and oldest stuff should be up front.

  • Organize similar items together so you remember what needs using up.

Proper storage makes a huge difference in how long food stays fresh. Be diligent about it.

Understand Expiration Dates

Confusion about expiration dates leads to lots of premature food disposal. Here’s what each date actually means:

  • “Sell by” date: Recommended last day store should sell item. Still safe to eat for 1-2 weeks after.

  • “Best by” date: Estimated peak freshness, not safety cutoff. Often good for weeks/months after.

  • “Use by” date: Final day food should be eaten by for safety. Follow this one.

  • No date: Use sight and smell to determine freshness.

The key is that expiration dates don’t indicate food is inedible after that date, except “use by”. Exercise judgment before throwing food out based on a date alone.

Get Creative with Leftovers

Rather than letting leftovers languish in the fridge, get creative about giving them new life:

  • Turn leftover chicken/veg into soup, salad, or sandwich filling for easy next-day lunch.

  • Whip up a veggie/grain bowl. Toss together leftovers with dressing for an easy meal.

  • Make a flatbread pizza with leftover cooked meat and veggies.

  • Revive old bread into bread pudding, croutons, or breadcrumbs to use in other dishes.

  • Blend overripe or aging produce into a smoothie. You’ll never taste it.

With a little creativity, you can almost always find a way to use leftovers and reduce waste. Don’t just chuck it!

Compost If Possible

For food scraps you can’t consume, composting is the next best option. It keeps waste out of landfills and creates nutrient-rich soil. Ideas:

  • See if your city offers curbside compost pickup. Many do now.

  • Look into small indoor compost bins for apartment dwellers. Some even compost meat and dairy.

  • Create a DIY compost pile if you have outdoor space. There are many easy methods.

  • Put food scraps into a bag in your freezer until trash day to contain smells if needed.

Composting food that would otherwise be tossed reduces your environmental impact. It’s a great habit if doable for your living situation.

By taking a more proactive approach to meal planning, storage, expiration dates, and leftovers, you can dramatically cut down on the amount of edible food sent to landfills. It just takes some strategic thinking and the willingness to find creative ways to use up what you have. Start implementing a few of these tips and you’ll quickly notice a reduction in waste.