Sustainable Home

How to Reduce Food Waste at Home: 10 Simple Tips for an Eco-Friendly Kitchen

Did you know that about a third of our food is lost or goes to waste? More and more people are becoming environmentally conscious every day. So, it’s no surprise that reducing food waste has become a priority. It has such a tremendous impact – both on the environment and the economy!

For most people, this eco-friendly practice starts in the home. And there are tonnes of ways to reduce food waste – from composting to meal planning to proper storage; the choice is yours.

So, if you:

  • Are looking for eco-friendly and sustainable practices to incorporate into your daily life;
  • Want to reduce food waste at home but don’t know where to start;
  • Are wondering how you can use up your food scraps and leftovers,

Then you’re in the right place! In this post, we’ll teach you how to cut down on food waste and give you helpful tips that you can start using today!

Let’s dive right in.

Why reduce food waste at all?

One question that pops up all the time is “Why should we reduce food waste in the first place?”. We understand why you might be asking yourself this. After all, one person’s banana peels can’t have that much of an effect on the world, right?

Well, that’s just it – you won’t be the only one trying not to waste food.

Many people seem to think in one of two ways. Either no one is doing it, or loads of people are doing it – either way, your contribution (or lack thereof) won’t make a difference. Imagine if doctors and scientists thought the same thing!

The benefits of reducing food waste are many and can have a significant impact.

  • By cutting down on wasted food, we won’t need the same amount of resources to grow it. For example, we’ll have to use far less land and water.
  • Cutting down on food waste can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Donating or sharing your unused food is a good way to waste less while also helping your community.
  • On a personal level, you can save lots of money if you only buy what you need and know you’ll use up.

So, without further ado, here are…

10 easy ways to reduce food waste

As we mentioned before, there are many practical ways to reduce food waste at home. Some are easier than others, and some might not be right for you – it all depends on your situation.

In any case, take a look at these helpful tips on reducing food waste and start doing your part for the environment, one step at a time!

1. Don’t buy more food than you’ll use

Perhaps the easiest way to cut down on food waste is to shop smarter. It’s also one of the most popular ones, as it saves you money, too.

Buying in bulk

Sure, buying food in bulk seems cheaper and more convenient, but think about it.

Let’s say you buy oranges in bulk but end up throwing most of them away because you can’t eat them all in time. Then you have to go out and buy more, and the cycle continues. You’re not really saving money in this case, right? If anything, you end up spending a lot more.

The solution here is simple – just buy less food! Only buy in bulk if you know you’re going to use it up in time or if you know how to preserve it.

Impulse buying

We’re all guilty of wandering through the shops and buying food on a whim. Maybe you’re thinking “I can make a great meal with this!” or “I might want to eat this later, so I’ll just get it now.”

Be honest – how often do you actually follow through?

More often than not, we get back home and discover that we still have pizza leftovers from last night. Or we decide that we don’t really want that impulse-buy snack right now. “Oh well, I’ll eat this/cook this meal when I’m in the mood.”, we say. But sadly, that day rarely comes, and before we know it, the food has spoiled.

Making a shopping list and sticking to it or planning your meals in advance (which we’ll get to in the next tip) is a great way to control your impulse purchases and significantly reduce food waste.

Shopping trips

Just like buying in bulk, one big shopping trip once a week seems more convenient. And for a lot of people, it is. But if you find that you’re not using a big portion of that food before it gives up the ghost, then several smaller trips might be a better option.

If possible, try to use up most of the food you have before going back to the shops.

2. Plan your meals ahead of time

Image source: Shutterstock / anupong saetang

Most of the time, meal planning is pretty hit or miss. It really depends on your eating/cooking habits. But if you don’t mind sticking to a “menu” of sorts, then planning what you want to cook for the next few days is a good starting point on the road to reducing food waste.

If you have children, meal planning can turn into a fun Sunday activity for the whole family.

  • Your kids, especially younger ones, will feel a sense of “accomplishment” and involvement in the household’s decisions.
  • You can choose meals that everyone loves and have tasty leftovers to snack on the following day.
  • And, best of all, you’ll drastically reduce food waste by shopping for ingredients you know you’ll use.

Some people might find this method too restrictive, and we completely understand. Sometimes, you just don’t feel like making whatever you’ve decided to make that day. Sometimes, you just need a roast dinner. And that’s okay!

You don’t have to follow your meal plan religiously. Just try to keep deviations to a minimum and find ways to use up the products you’ve bought.

If you tend to cook in large quantities and often have lots of leftovers, you can designate a day of the week to finish them all so they don’t go to waste.

3. Don’t ignore “ugly” produce

If you usually dig through a bin of fruit or veggies at the shop to find the perfect one, you might want to rethink this practice. That’s because it largely contributes to food waste.

Since people tend to overlook misshapen or blemished produce, food stores have started buying only the best looking fruits and vegetables. This means that a huge portion of the food grown never reaches us. It never even reaches the shops!

Just because a piece of fruit or a vegetable is sort of weirdly shaped doesn’t mean it tastes any different. In fact, most of the produce you get from a farmer won’t have that “desirable” shape you’ll find at the store. But if you’ve ever eaten fresh, organic produce, you know how much better it can taste!

So, next time you go on a shopping trip, give the “outcasts” a shot. You won’t be disappointed.

4. Don’t throw away edible food

It’s scary to think about it, but a massive chunk of the food that gets thrown away is entirely edible! Unfortunately, there’s not much the regular consumer can do to make a huge dent, as retailers are often the ones to blame.

Still, paying attention to what you chuck in the bin can make a difference.

Expiration dates

One thing that contributes to edible food going to waste is the mass confusion over the dates you find on the packaging. Many people trust it blindly, and many people don’t know what it means. Some of these dates aren’t even meant for you to pay attention to!

So, understanding what they mean can result in you throwing out a lot less food.

  • “Sell by” dates
    These are often there not for the consumers but the stores. They use these dates as a guide on when to rotate their food items. This is often the predicted date when the product is likely to start looking not-so-fresh. This doesn’t mean it’s expired and no longer edible, however. It just means it’s past its prime.
  • “Best before” dates
    An astounding number of people think that food past its “Best before” date is spoilt and throw it away, even if it’s only a day over! And we completely understand the confusion. However, these are similar to the “Sell by” date, in that they indicate when a product is likely to start changing colour, texture, or sometimes taste. None of this means it’s not safe to eat.
  • “Use by” dates
    Now, these dates are the ones you should pay attention to. The “Use by” date is there for safety reasons and means the product is likely unsafe to eat past this date. You’ll often spot these on meat products.

All of these dates are estimations and will depend on how you store the food. Most of the time, it’s best to trust your judgement. If a food item tastes, looks, or smells strange or spoilt (or has sat in your fridge for seven months after its expiration date), then you’d best steer clear.

“Repurposing” food

Many fruits and vegetables will start to look a little sad a little after they ripen. They can wilt or soften, maybe get a couple of spots or blemishes. But that doesn’t mean it’s too late for them!

Produce that’s just past its prime is still perfectly fine for smoothies, jams, soups, stock, baked dishes and the like. You can use stale bread as croutons or breadcrumbs. And for veggies that really can’t be saved, there’s always the compost heap (more on that later, stay tuned).

Decided to try some new food and found you don’t like it? Bought too much food and can’t eat it all in time? Food share apps like Olio and Too Good To Go can give your leftovers a second chance.

5. Store your food and leftovers properly

We mentioned earlier how storage can affect how long your food remains edible. If you really want to cut down on food waste, storing your food properly is an essential step.

Obviously, meat should be kept in the fridge (if you plan to use it soon) or freezer. Fruits and veggies, on the other hand, are a bit of a mixed bag. Some will benefit from colder temperatures, while others don’t like being stored in the fridge.

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Some produce you should store in a cool, dry spot or at room temperature includes:

  • Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Bananas
  • Aubergine
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Cucumbers
  • Oranges
  • Lemons and limes

You can keep most other fruits and vegetables in the fridge, like:

  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Berries
  • Grapes
  • Lettuce
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower

And finally, there are some fruits that you can store out at room temperature and move to the fridge once they ripen. These include:

  • Avocados
  • Peaches
  • Apricots
  • Mangoes
  • Melons
  • Pears

Some kinds of fruit and vegetables emit a natural gas called ethylene that causes some other types to ripen a lot faster. So, to be safe and prolong the freshness of your produce, they should be kept away from others. These include apples, bananas, tomatoes, stone fruit, and pears.

Onions are also known to cause some issues to other produce, especially potatoes, so you’d be better off storing them by themselves.

No matter if it’s fruits and veggies, cooked leftovers, or a half-empty can of beans, you should always store food in a sealed container to keep it from spoiling too quickly.

6. Freeze fresh food or leftovers

Freezing is a fantastic way to reduce food waste by preserving products that you can’t eat in time (sorry, Gordon Ramsay). Luckily, almost all food takes well to freezing, too.

If you’ve bought fresh fruits or vegetables and you can’t use them up fast enough, you can freeze them without any problems. Granted, some of them can change in texture once defrosted, like tomatoes or strawberries. Freezing such produce pureed or stewed can solve this issue, though, and you can use it later in smoothies or sauces.

Naturally, you can freeze meat, too. This is a good practice if you buy more meat than you can use in a couple of days. You can even freeze bread!

And lastly, there are many prepared dishes that you can freeze, too, so you don’t have to worry about your leftovers spoiling before you get to them. Some meals freeze better than others, though, and if you’ve prepared a dish with sauce on the side, for example, it’s best to store the sauce separately.

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7. Give food preservation a go

Image source: Shutterstock / Antonina Vlasova

Preserving food is a great way to drastically extend a food item’s longevity and cut down on food waste. So, if you’ve bought too much and can’t use it all, why not try canning or pickling it? Doesn’t a homemade chutney or jar of pickles sound good?

You can pickle pretty much anything – cucumbers, eggs, onions, garlic, peppers, cabbage, you name it! Plus, not all pickles are fermented, so if you’re not a fan of fermented foods, you can still take advantage of pickling.

Canning food is another preservation practice you can try out. And again, you can do it with pretty much anything, including meat! There are different canning methods out there, so you’re sure to find the one that suits you best.

8. Make your own broth or stock

Food scraps, veggie peels, wilting greens and herbs, animal bones, etc. – these are all things people often throw away without thinking twice. And why wouldn’t they? What else is there to do with them?

Why, make your own broth or stock, of course!


If you have veggies and herbs that are starting to look less-than-stellar, chuck them in the pot and make a flavourful veggie broth. Need to use up some meat before it goes bad? Throw it in along with the herbs and vegetables for a chicken or beef broth.

Boil the ingredients for a while and voilà – you have a fantastic base for a homemade soup!


If you have animal bones that you’re thinking of throwing away, think twice! You can boil them for 6-8 hours and make a thicker stock to use as a base for your next sauce or stew!

Boiling the bones by themselves will make a good neutral base for dishes with lots of flavourful ingredients. If you want to kick up the flavour of the stock itself, throw in some veggies and herbs, maybe even some meat. This will make the stock taste more like broth, but still keep it thicker in consistency.

9. Try composting food scraps

If your leftover food scraps are truly unusable, then don’t just chuck them in the rubbish bin. Give composting a go instead!

Making compost at home is not a difficult task, especially if you have a garden. There are tonnes of ways you can go about it, most of them involving throwing your food scraps in a pile or compost bin and forgetting about them for a few weeks or months. Other methods, such as worm composting, require a bit more upkeep, but trust us – the results are worth it.

Composting is a great way to reduce food waste at home and benefit from it at the same time. The material you get at the end is a wonderful fertiliser that you can use for your garden or houseplants.

If you live in an apartment, you might be thinking that composting is not for you. But don’t get discouraged – composting in a flat is not impossible! There are various ways you can go about it without worrying about any mess or nasty smell.

Want to go one step further? Why not try your hand at growing your own vegetables?

10. Pack your lunch for work or school

And finally, an excellent way to reduce food waste and use up your leftover products or dishes is to simply pack a lunch from home.

If you buy your lunch every time you go out, you’re essentially doing two things:

  • Spending more money;
  • Increasing the risk of your food at home spoiling before you eat it.

Obviously, you don’t have to cook a meal specifically to bring to work the next day. You can just grab some leftovers from last night’s dinner. Even if you just make yourself a sandwich, you’re still using up products that could have gone to waste otherwise.

And there you have it! You can now use these tips to reduce food waste, save some money, and even make some household tasks easier.

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  • Reducing your food waste at home can help the environment, benefit your community, and even save you money.
  • Buying only what you need and sticking to a shopping list is a good way to cut down on food waste.
  • Planning meals ahead of time can help you figure out exactly how much food to buy. You can even turn it into a fun Sunday tradition for the whole family.
  • Misshapen or bruised produce often gets overlooked, but it tastes the same. Giving “ugly” fruits and veggies a chance can help reduce food waste.
  • Expiration dates don’t always mean the product will become inedible or unsafe after a certain date. Be mindful of what you throw away.
  • Store your food items and leftovers properly so they don’t spoil as quickly.
  • If you’ve bought too much food and can’t eat it all in time, freezing, pickling, or canning are good ways to preserve it.
  • You can use food scraps or products that are a little bit past their prime to make homemade broth or stock.
  • Composting is a fantastic way to reduce food waste at home and feed your plants at the same time.
  • Packing a lunch from home can help you eat more of your food before it spoils.

Looking for more tips on how to live in a sustainable and eco-friendly way? We recommend checking out our post on how to recycle at home next!


Did you find this post helpful? What practices do you use to reduce food waste at home? Share your tips or questions with us in the comments!

Image source: Shutterstock / j.chizhe

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