13 Smart and Easy Tips for Reducing Produce Waste

Friday August 05, 2016

Produce storage

Studies show that the number one category of food to create the most food waste is produce. Those ripe red tomatoes and crisp salad greens that came through so many hands to our fridge but never make it to the plate. We have all done it; thrown out full heads of lettuce and broccoli that sat at the back of the fridge waiting to be used.  It comes at a high price to us as consumers but also to the environment as well.  Put a few dollars back in your pocket and be sure to save all the labor, effort and resources from going into the garbage like your head of lettuce by applying the tips below.

  1. Create a plan – it may sound a bit A type but creating a plan for your produce is the basis for reducing food waste.  For example there are 4 of you at home and you each have 1 piece of fruit for lunch and one for breakfast; 4 pieces of fruit times 7 days (if you shop weekly) is 28 servings of fruit for the week. Buy that and no more.  Decide on the number of servings of veggies for the week as well including the veggies and dip for lunch and your salads at dinner.
  2. Create a shopping list – after creating a plan you need to create a grocery list and be sure to bring it with you!.  Some of the best laid plans fall down when the list gets left at home. You know you need 28 servings of fruit so what kind of fruit do you want – ex. 4 apples, 4 bananas, grapes for 4 servings, 4 oranges etc.
  3. Have a plan B – let’s say you planned to make broccoli soup but then got invited out for dinner. Be sure to have a plan B such as including that broccoli in a stir fry you planned to make later in the week.
  4. Practice FIFO (First in first out) - when unpacking groceries, move older products to the front of the fridge/freezer and put new products in the back. This way, you’re more likely to use up the older stuff before it expires.
  5. Monitor what you throw out – start writing down everything you throw out on a regular basis. Tossing out a cucumber each week? Maybe it’s time to stop buying cucumber because nobody in the household actually likes it!
  6. Have a use it up meal – when it is get towards the end of the week often fruits and veggies will be on the way out. Designate a meal to use up all the items that are less than ideal.  It’s a great way to get creative and prevent waste.
  7. Have some smoothie and soup recipes handy – when fruits and veggies are not ideal for salads and dips they can still lend their nutrition and taste to smoothies and soups.  It is a great way to rescue expiring produce.
  8. Learn to preserve - got more fruit than you know what to do with? Try canning it so it’ll last for months to come.  Who doesn’t love eating “fresh” peaches in winter? Another option is to pickle your produce, both fruits and vegetables can be preserved through an easy pickling process.
  9. Get used to funny looking produce - many fruits and vegetables are thrown away because their size, shape, or colors don’t quite match what we think these items “should” look like. These items are perfectly good to eat and often come at a reduced price.  Buying funny produce at a farmer’s market or the grocery store has an added benefit in that it helps use up food that might otherwise be tossed.
  10. Use your freezer – Another way to manage produce that is on its last legs is to clean, cut it up and then put it in the freezer for use at a later time. Some items will need blanching first but that is a simple process too.
  11. Store it better – Fruits and veggies have their particular way they like to be stored that help do keep them fresh for longer.  For instance store lettuce greens and fresh herbs in a plastic bag with a small hole in it so the greens can breathe. Potatoes and onions prefer a cool dry place to stay fresh longer. Never put bananas in the fridge and the list goes on.
  12. Check your fridge/freezer - make sure it’s functioning at maximum efficiency. Look for tight seals, proper temperature, etc. This will ensure that the fridge keeps food fresh as long as possible.
  13. Compost - Hate potato skins? Don’t feel like turning wilted vegetables into soup stock? No worries; food scraps still don’t need to be tossed. Just start a compost pile in the backyard or even under the sink, and convert food waste into a useful resource for your garden.