By: Sarah Casciato, RD, MHSc., and Alicia Lang, MHSc(c)
Ever feel like you’re spending too much money on groceries, just for them to go bad in your fridge? You’re not alone. The average Canadian family throws out over $1700 of food every year. Save your hard earned money and use these top tips for getting the most out of your groceries and reducing your food waste at home.
1) Plan ahead and stick to your list. Meal planning can be a tiring task, but can help save you money on food. By planning out your meals for the week, or even just for a few days at a time, you can make a list of the foods you actually need to buy. Sticking to your plan will help make sure you use what you buy before it goes bad. This is your chance to get creative and find recipes online for meals you’re actually excited about! Meal planning doesn’t have to be boring.
2) Check the dates. A lot of the food we waste gets thrown out because it’s expired. Prevent this by checking the dates on the foods you buy to make sure you have enough time to finish them.
Helpful Hint: “Best before” does not mean “poisonous after”. A “best before” date is simply an estimate of when the food will no longer be at its peak quality, but this doesn’t necessarily mean the food will cause food poisoning or illness if eaten after this date. On the other hand, abide by “Expiration/Use By” dates as these are a measure of food safety.
3) Store food properly. Store frozen and refrigerated foods in the freezer/fridge as soon as you get home from the grocery store, making sure to use the “crisper drawers” for your produce! When storing leftovers, use smaller containers so hot food can cool down quickly. When freezing foods, make sure there is a little room at the top of the container to account for any expansion that happens during the freezing process.
Tip: Always forget about the food in your fridge? Keep newer foods towards the back of your fridge, and older foods towards the front. This will help you eat the oldest foods first, before they go bad.
4) Use up your perishables. Try to use up perishable foods like fruits and vegetables before they go bad. Use your fruits to make chia jam or smoothies, and use vegetables to make soups, sauces (like kale pesto), stir fries, or snacks (like baked kale chips).
5) Get creative with leftovers. Instead of having the same meal 5 days in a row, change up your leftovers and make something new! For example, if you have leftover baked chicken from one meal and cooked rice from another, add some vegetables and a sauce to create a simple stir fry! This is a chance to get creative and have fun in the kitchen.
6) Not sure what to make? There’s an app (or website) for that. Some websites like supercook.com can help reduce food waste by giving you recipe ideas based on the foods you have in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. Save the recipes you like and use them again in the future!
Bottom Line: Throwing out food is an expensive and often avoidable habit. There are many things you can do to reduce the amount of food you throw away, such as getting creative with your leftovers and storing your food properly.
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- Canadian Institute of Food Safety. (2020, August 31). The difference between best before and expiry dates. Retrieved from https://www.foodsafety.ca/blog/difference-between-best-and-expiry-dates
- Deobald, B. (2020, February 21). Food waste COSTS Canadian economy $49 billion a year. Retrieved from https://www.producer.com/farmliving/food-waste-costs-canadian-economy-49-billion-a-year/#:~:text=At%20the%20consumer%20level%2C%20about,Canada%20equaling%20%241%2C766%20per%20household.
- SuperCook. (n.d.). SuperCook. Retrieved from https://www.supercook.com
- Unlock Food. (2020, February 21). Tips on reducing food waste at home. Retrieved from https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Cooking-And-Food/Cooking-Methods/Tips-On-Reducing-Food-Waste-At-Home.aspx