Once I found myself couponing and gradually gaining financial freedom, I decided to find new ways to gain additional savings in my budget. One way I’ve accomplished this is by identifying the little ways that I wasted foods unintentionally. I’m officially the queen of the last drop! Here are nine smart tips you should be using to minimize your family’s food waste and save you a ton in the long run!

1. Use vinegar to get the last ketchup out of your bottle

Add a small amount of vinegar to the ketchup bottle, shake it up to get the rest of the ketchup out of the bottle. This will get several more servings out of the bottle.

2. Follow a recipe for amounts instead of overbuying

If a recipe calls for two cups of potatoes, buy one baking potato instead of a 10 pound bag of potatoes that may go to waste. If the recipe calls for one carrot, buy one instead of a bag.

3. Consider prep-cooking fruits and vegetables to minimize food waste

If you buy a bag of onions, go ahead and chop them, place in small containers and freeze. This will prevent rotting or sprouting onions that you end up trashing. Cut up a pineapple as soon as you get home; this will make you more likely to eat it.

4. Make a guilt list and evaluate it at the end of the month for wasted purchases

For example, there are only two people in my household that can drink milk. I used to buy a gallon of milk out of habit. Upon completing a guilt list for the month, I found out that I was throwing away two jugs of half-full milk each month. Hint to me—buy a quart size container of milk instead.

5. Add plain yogurt to a jar of mayonnaise to make salad dressing

When you’re trying to get the last two tablespoons out of the mayo jar, add plain yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, seasonings and shake well for instant salad dressing. How awesome is that?!

6. Make your own breadcrumbs from stale bread

I make purchases at times for convenience, and bread crumbs is one of them. However, I’ve been known to throw away stale bread, so why not make your own bread crumbs out of it instead? Take the stale bread (including the ends), slice it into small pieces, and add any crumbs left in the bread sack. Lightly toast and store for future use.

7. Use a colander to separate cereal crumbs from the last cup in the box

Before I became a couponer, I didn’t really think that much about wasting food. When the cereal box was almost empty, I’d just trash it and open a new one. I didn’t like the crumbs at the bottom of the box mixing in the cereal milk. As I began to pay attention to my food waste, I decided to salvage the last cup of cereal without the crumbs. A colander is the answer!

8. Reduce size of dinner plates and encourage additional servings

If your family doesn’t eat everything on their plate routinely, then reduce the size of the plates you’re using. If the family wants seconds, the decision will be thought out instead of habitual. This also allows leftovers to remain uncontaminated and easily stored from their serving dishes.

9. Decide to buy the “funny-looking” vegetable or fruit

I’m guilty of looking for the perfectly round apple or tomato. Because we want perfection even in our foods, less than perfect fruits and veggies are pushed to the side in the produce section. Make a conscious effort to buy “less than perfect appearing” fruits and veggies because they’ll taste the same, and they won’t be thrown away by the store!

Note: This post has been edited since its first publication date.

10 Tips to Minimize Your Family's Food Waste