Rethinking Food Waste to Save Money and Eat Better

ByAgnes E. Utt

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This is my hypothesis and observation: When you start working on wasting less food, you automatically end up eating better.


  • Because the celery doesn’t rot in the fridge – you blend it into a smoothie.
  • The pieces of chicken get defrosted from the freezer and turned into dinner, instead of running to the store again or ordering take-out.
  • The leftover bread gets made into croutons, which make the salad more exciting to eat.
  • You look at the ripe bananas or the blueberries in the fruit bin and think “let’s make muffins and not waste these.
  • You get more creative for your work-at-home lunch, and make a quesadilla with leftovers or stuff a baked potato.

Repurpose leftovers by adding them to a quick quesadilla.

More food, less waste

The key is to buy foods, especially perishable fruits and vegetables, that your household enjoys! There are lots of healthy foods to choose from!

Buying foods that you’ve been told are healthy for you, but you don’t like, only results in food waste and/or guilt. The goal of zero waste cooking is to plan meals that you enjoy, that use over-lapping ingredients each week.

When you do this, you start to actually consume all of the food you buy and store at home. It may sound like common sense, but once you start observing your own food shopping, storing and cooking habits at home, you might find that there’s a lot of untapped nutrition sitting right in your kitchen.

Over the past several years, “meal planning” has been a hot tip. It has been help up for everything from improving your nutrition intake, to saving time to losing weight. Traditional meal planning does have its merits. However meal planning for zero waste takes a little bit of the sting away. I like to think of it more as “food planning” rather than meal planning.

Bonus: you get to choose foods you actually love to eat. This allows all of your groceries to work overtime and deliver. Click To Tweet

Food Planning: One Ingredient, Multiple Ways

Fresh produce is delicious, but it also has a short life. If it’s not used up or properly frozen within 5 days of purchase, it’s going to start to wilt or go bad. While I want you to enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables, you don’t have to have variety every single day. You can enjoy variety over the month.

Let’s say you like bell peppers. Focus on those this week, and buy a bulk bag (often less expensive) then enjoy them in multiple ways through the week. You can cut them for a raw veggie tray or a salad. Or, cut them in half, stuff them with protein and rice (or other grain), and bake them. Chop them into a chili, or saute them for tacos or fajitas. All of these ideas will provide a different meal each day, while using up all of the peppers you bought.

A classic pesto can serve this duel purpose too. You might use it in pasta, but it’s also a sandwich spread or can be spread onto bread for an appetizer. Check out my green salad dressing that also doubles as a pasta sauce. 

Start thinking about how you can use similar ingredients in new ways!

Let me know what you come up with!