What are the top tips for reducing food waste in the kitchen?


Ever open your fridge to find leftovers you forgot about or fruit that’s seen better days? Most of us end up throwing out more food than we’d like to admit. According to studies, the average American household wastes almost a third of the food they buy. All that wasted food costs money and it’s terrible for the environment.

The good news is there are some easy ways you can cut down on food waste right in your own kitchen. Small changes to the way you shop, store, and cook food can make a big difference. Follow these top tips to transform your kitchen into a lean, green, food-saving machine. You’ll save money, help the planet, and feel good knowing you’re making the most of the food you buy. Time to get food savvy!

Plan Your Meals and Make a List

Planning your meals ahead of time and making a list before you shop is key to cutting down on food waste. When you go to the store without a plan, you end up buying things on impulse that may end up forgotten in the fridge.

Sit down on Sunday and map out your meals for the week. Check what ingredients you already have and make a list of what you need to pick up. Only buy what’s on your list! This helps avoid overbuying.

Once you’re home from the store, spend a few minutes prepping ingredients. Wash and chop veggies, cook grains and beans, marinate meats. Having ingredients ready to go makes it much more likely you’ll actually cook at home, and less likely leftovers will be forgotten.

Use it up

Find creative ways to use up leftovers and avoid food scraps. Veggie ends, meat bones, stale bread – these remnants often still have plenty of flavor and nutrition left. Make stock, soup, or broth with leftover bits. Bread pudding, French toast or croutons are great ways to revive stale bread.

Be flexible – if you have leftover chicken, use it in enchiladas, sandwiches, salad or soup instead of throwing it out. Get creative with leftovers and you’ll waste less.

Proper storage

Storing your food properly helps keep it fresh longer. Use up perishable items like meat, dairy and produce within a week. Make sure your fridge is 40 F or below. Store leftovers in airtight containers and label/date them.

Planning, prepping and proper storage are easy habits that can help you cut your food waste in half. Making the most of your leftovers and using everything to its full potential will save you money and help the environment. Small changes really do make a big difference!

Properly Store Your Food

To keep your food fresh and avoid waste, storing it properly is key.

First, know that not all foods should be stored together. Fruits and vegetables release ethylene gas as they ripen, which speeds up decay in other produce. Keep ethylene-producing fruits like apples, stone fruits, and tomatoes away from non-ethylene producing veggies such as broccoli, cucumbers, and leafy greens.

Next, use the right storage containers. Plastic or glass containers with tight-fitting lids are best for leftovers and keep food airtight. Resealable bags also work well for many items. Make sure everything is properly sealed to avoid contamination and spoilage. For produce, use perforated bags that allow for air flow.

Pay attention to temperature too. The ideal range is 40 to 60 F. Colder spots like the refrigerator keep most perishables fresh, while a cool, dark pantry is good for root veggies, onions, and potatoes. The countertop is okay for bananas, mangos, and citrus.

Another tip is to properly organize your fridge. Keep raw meats on the bottom shelf to avoid cross-contamination. Leftovers should go in the middle, and produce, dairy and eggs on the top shelf. This prevents drips from spoiling other foods and makes everything easy to spot.

Finally, check expiration and ‘use by’ dates regularly and be diligent about rotating your stock. Move newer items behind older ones and make a plan to use up anything nearing its date. With some organization and the right storage, you’ll be well on your way to reducing waste and saving money.

Use Your Leftovers

Leftovers are a great way to avoid food waste and save money. Here are some tips to make the most of your leftovers:

Use everything

Don’t throw away leftover veggies, meat, grains, or broths – find ways to reuse them. Veggie scraps and meat bones can be used to make stock. Leftover rice, grains, and veggies are great in fried rice, stir fries, and omelets. Wilted greens can be added to soups. Small amounts of mashed potatoes or stuffing are perfect for potato pancakes or stuffing patties.

Repurpose and reinvent

Get creative with leftovers instead of just reheating the same meal. Turn leftover chicken into enchiladas, soup, or salad. Extra mashed potatoes make great potato pancakes, croquettes or stuffed peppers filling. Leftover rice and veggies are perfect for fried rice. Small amounts of different leftovers can even be combined into soup or stew.

Proper storage

To keep leftovers at their best, store them properly. Let leftovers cool, then refrigerate within 2 hours. Use sealed containers or ziplock bags, and label and date the leftovers so you can keep track of how long they’ve been stored. Most leftovers will last 3 to 4 days in the fridge. For longer term storage, freeze leftovers in airtight packaging or containers. Properly wrapped, most leftovers will last 2 to 3 months in the freezer.

Be flexible

Don’t be afraid to tweak leftovers to suit your tastes when reheating them. Add spices, herbs, sauces or cheese to leftovers to create something new. Mix together small amounts of different leftovers for a leftover mashup. Get leftovers out of the fridge and be open to recombining them in new ways. A little creativity can go a long way in reducing food waste and keeping leftovers interesting.

Following these tips will help you make the most of your leftovers, save money, and avoid throwing out perfectly good food. Get in the habit of using up leftovers and being flexible – your wallet and the environment will thank you!

Learn How to Preserve Foods

One of the best ways to reduce food waste is to preserve perishable foods so they last longer. Here are some easy methods you can use:


Freezing is one of the easiest ways to preserve foods. Many fruits, vegetables, meats, and prepared foods like soups and stews can be frozen for several months. Flash freeze produce and meats as soon as possible after purchasing or harvesting to lock in nutrients. When ready to eat, simply thaw the food in the refrigerator overnight.


Canning, or jar preserving, allows you to enjoy your favorite summer produce year-round. Sterilize jars and lids, then fill them with high-acid foods like fruits, tomatoes, pickles, and jams. Use a boiling water bath or pressure canner to safely seal the jars. Properly canned goods can last 12-18 months.


Drying is a simple way to preserve herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Use a dehydrator or your oven on a low setting to slowly draw out moisture. Dried goods like jerky, fruit leathers, and veggie chips can last 6-12 months when stored properly in an airtight container.


The fermentation process uses beneficial bacteria to preserve foods like cabbage into sauerkraut, cucumbers into pickles, yogurt, kombucha, and kimchi. Fermented foods contain probiotics and can last several months refrigerated. The natural acids created during fermentation inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria.


Pickling uses an acid like vinegar or lemon juice to create an inhospitable environment for bacteria. Crisp pickles, colorful chutneys, and flavorful relishes are all popular pickled foods. Use sterilized jars and a boiling water bath to seal, then enjoy your pickles for up to a year.

By learning how to preserve summer’s bounty, you’ll waste far less food and enjoy the flavors of the seasons year-round. Give some of these methods a try—you may just find a new hobby and a tasty way to go green in your kitchen!


You now have some simple and effective tips to start reducing food waste in your kitchen. Making a few small changes can have a big impact over time. Planning meals, using leftovers, properly storing food, and avoiding overbuying at the grocery store are all easy habits to build. Remember, reducing waste is about progress, not perfection.

Start with one tip this week and build from there. Together, we have the power to make a difference and cut down on the amount of food ending up in landfills. Every morsel matters, so do your part and spread the word to friends and family. Reducing food waste is rewarding work that benefits both the environment and your wallet. You’ve got this! Now get in that kitchen and start fighting food waste one bite at a time.


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