1. Take inventory. Avoid buying what you already have by looking in your pantry, fridge and freezer before heading to the store. You may find some of what you need (or suitable replacements) right in your own kitchen.
2. Practice FIFO. Restaurants and supermarkets follow the “first in, first out” rule – and so should we. When unpacking groceries, move new cans, boxes, etc. to the back of the pantry, fridge & freezer and put older products up front to be used first.
3. Know whether you eat leftovers. Some people don’t mind eating the same thing for days, while others never touch leftovers. If you’re not the leftovers type (or will be eating out/away from home a lot in the coming days), make only what you will truly eat in a given meal.
4. Get familiar with expiration dates. The dates on different foods mean different things (for example, the “expiration date” on milk is a sell-by date, not a use-by date), so just because you see a date in the recent past doesn’t mean a food should be tossed. When stored properly, most foods will last a little longer than their printed date anyway. If a product looks, smells and tastes good then it’s probably fine. (Note: food-borne illnesses don’t usually come from eating expired food; they come from mishandling and cross-contamination).
At the Store
5. Make a list. Even the most experienced shoppers will get sidetracked without a list. Save yourself time, money and food waste by coming to the store with ingredients for a few meals and snacks written down.
6. Buy what you need. Just because something is “buy two, get one free” doesn’t mean you should go for it. If you buy more than you need and most of something goes to waste, the “deal” wasn’t much of a “deal.” Think about what you’ll really use up and buy just that amount.
7. Shop smart. Take advantage of convenience foods like Gourmet Garden’s fresh herb tubes, pre-peeled garlic, tomato paste in a tube, etc. so homemade meals are easier to make and ingredients are easier to use up.
When Eating Out
8. Resist the urge to over-order. If you’re starving when you arrive at a restaurant you’ll be tempted to order more than you can eat, so either resist this urge or have a little snack before you leave home. Starting with a salad or tomato juice can help curb initial hunger so you place a more reasonable order.
9. Share a meal. With restaurant portions so large, sharing with someone is usually still plenty of food. And don’t worry about the split-charge, since it’s certainly less expensive than ordering two main dishes.
10. Take home leftovers. If you’re a leftovers eater, that is. Bring a reusable container to save on packaging, and/or request no bag.