7 Ways To Reduce Food Waste at Home

Food waste is more than just wasted resources (and money). Here at 7 tips on how to prevent food waste and reduce your impact on the environment.
Posted on
August 9, 2022
7 Ways To Reduce Food Waste at Home

It’s no secret that food waste has a huge impact on the environment. If food waste were a country, it would have the third-highest carbon footprint, accounting for 8 to 10 percent of our global greenhouse gas emissions.

Why is food waste a problem? 

Food waste is more than just wasted resources (and money). It releases methane as it decomposes in landfills—which is one reason composting is the best way to go with food scraps. If everyone on the planet (companies included) quit wasting food, we could eliminate up to 8 percent of global emissions.

But the good news is that there are plenty of things we can do to make a difference. Easy things, like making simple dietary changes, buying in bulk and using less plastic

We’re going to share useful tips to help you reduce your food-related carbon footprint. Get out your forks, because we’re about to dig in.

Read more: How does food waste contribute to climate change?

How to reduce food waste and fight climate change

Solving the food waste issue isn’t just up to individuals, but your contribution will make a difference. And there are really simple ways to combat the problem.

1. Consider buying smaller portions

For starters, buy less. That gallon jug of milk might be cheaper ounce for ounce, but are you really saving money if you always end up pouring the last quarter of it down the drain?

2. Freeze your food before it spoils

Your freezer is also a magical food-preserving machine.

If you make a batch of soup and there are more leftovers than you think you can handle in a few days, freeze a few portions for those nights you don’t feel like cooking. You might be surprised at all the things you can freeze, like shredded cheese, cooked rice, even eggs and wine.

Bananas going bad? Peel them, break into chunks and freeze, and you can turn them into a delicious plant-based ice cream alternative

Another freezer trick for when you have more fresh herbs than you need: Freeze them in an ice cube tray with a little olive oil to pop into hot pans, soups or other dishes.

Read more: 11 ways to reduce your kitchen’s carbon footprint

3. Adopt a meal-planning routine

Meal planning is another helpful tool to avoid waste, and it doesn’t have to mean Sunday-afternoon spreadsheet management. Simply glancing through your stores once a day to see what needs to be used up next will help you stay on top of things.

At-peak fruits and vegetables can be chopped up into extra side dishes with barely any effort, and many other items can be popped in the freezer and used later. (Future you will be thankful when you turn those stale doughnuts or croissants into decadent vegan French toast.)

4. Buy less but shop more often

Also, try shopping more often—assuming it doesn’t mean a lot of driving—and only buying what you need so well-intentioned produce doesn’t die a sad death on your watch.

And if there are specific vegetables you buy optimistically only to almost always end up throwing them out, it’s time to have a serious talk with yourself about solutions. Maybe the pre-chopped veg is worth the extra price to you, or it’s time to just admit that you don’t actually like Romaine lettuce.

A backyard compost pile which is a environmentally-friendly way to reduce your carbon footprint.
Photo by Eva Elijas from Pexels

5. Get the most out of your food scraps

For a real homesteading approach, you can start saving your vegetable scraps to make stock for the most delicious soups, stews and grain dishes.

Carrot peelings, onion skins, mushroom stems, the nubby part of a tomato, anything you trimmed off your pepper and even the rinds of your Parmesan cheese (especially those!) can be boiled down into a tasty broth. Cache it all in a lidded container in the freezer. Once it’s full, simmer the mixture down with some tomato paste, onions, garlic and spices.

Composting is a solid workaround for the inevitable food waste we all have. If you don’t have a spot for your own bin, look into community gardens or call your city officials to ask how they can make composting a thing where you live.

Composting leftovers can reduce food waste
Image from our Instagram

6. Rescue food before it’s sentenced to landfill 

This one’s for the intrepid bargain hunters out there. Swing by your favourite coffee shop, bakery or farmer’s market towards the end of the day to see if they’ve reduced the price of any items that won't be fresh enough for the following day. What’s even better, is that they just might be giving items away for free!

You can also find affordable, still good-to-eat food in the reduced section of your local grocery store. Consider yourself a sort of produce-and-money-saving hero by diverting any slightly-bruised vegetables, dented tins or products at their best before date from the landfill to your kitchen cupboard. 

Food-saving apps like Too Good To Go also make it easier to purchase discounted products from stores near where you live. Consider getting fresh produce that doesn’t meet grocery store standards delivered directly to your door, with subscription services like Odd Bunch.

7. Cut down on leftovers with meal kits

Meal kits have boomed in recent years, but they come with a lot of packing since each ingredient is pre-portioned for ease.

That in itself sounds like a big no-no, right? But wait: One study found that meal kits actually have a smaller carbon footprint than a regular trip to the grocery store.

Surprising? Kind of.

Because everything is rationed, it prevents you from needing to grab a whole head of iceberg lettuce when your recipe only calls for a quarter, or a jar of that less-common spice that will languish in the cupboard until you one day toss it in a fit of purging. Often, companies have direct-to-farm connections, so that can sometimes whittle away at the foodprint. But to make your meal kits extra planet-friendly, opt for plant-based options every week.

Closeup of assorted root vegetables, all of which can be consumed as part of a sustainable diet.
Photo by Nguyen Dang Hoang Nhu on Unsplash

Everything you do adds up

Most of all, don’t stress out about getting a perfect 10 on your eating performance. We dine three (at least) times a day, so there are plenty of opportunities to shift behaviours and learn new tricks.

Don’t forget, it’s bit by bit. Big changes often grow from continued small movements, and habits form through repetition—so pick something you feel inspired to try.

Whether it’s Meatless Monday (and perhaps Tuesday too?) or making broth from your vegetable scraps, it all counts.

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Brianna Sharpe
Written By
Brianna Sharpe

Brianna Sharpe is a freelance writer and doting parent who keeps climate change at bay by mending clothes, growing food, and over-thinking every possible purchase.

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada, RBC Ventures Inc., or its affiliates.

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