Did you know that every year, Americans waste 33 million tons of food? For example, say you have the ingredients for a great chef salad, but everyone is running late and you decide to do takeout tonight instead. Are those ingredients going to go bad? Possibly. Are you wasting money when you buy food and don’t take the time to prepare it? Absolutely! What if tomorrow you decide not to fix the salad, but prepare another item that you’re craving—are those ingredients going to last until you’re ready to prepare the salad? That’s the risk you take by not following your “intent for purchase.” Below are 5 ways you can eliminate food waste in your home.

Review what you already have in your refrigerator 

I’m really bad at changing my mind about what I want for supper. I end up purchasing items that I already have at home. Here’s a short list of what you should look for in your fridge before heading out to the store.

  • Vegetables: Does the lettuce have brown leaves? Can you remove them and still have edible lettuce?
  • Leftovers: Is there enough for another meal? Can they be frozen?
  • Milk and orange juice expiration dates: I like to smell my milk to determine if it’s still drinkable—you should do the same.

Check the fruit basket

Make sure your fruit basket is within sight. Try placing yours in the middle of the table or bar, basically in a common area where everyone goes through.

  • Are the bananas too ripe?: Freeze them and make banana bread later.
  • Are the apples bruised?: Peel and cook them to make applesauce.

Call home to see how many people you’re feeding for dinner

For most of us, it’s probably common to have teenagers in and out, family dropping by or events changing plans. If you anticipated 5 mouths to feed and end up with only 2, can you prepare something with what you already have without making too much? Here are some ideas:

  • Soup and salad works great for 2 people
  • Breakfast for dinner is a quick meal with ingredients you usually already have on hand
  • Leftovers anyone?
  • How about a meatless night?

Make your meal with ingredients you already have

A great tool to use when you’re unsure of what to make with ingredients you already have is the app Recipes by Ingredients. Check out this article for more information, and use it so you won’t waste the random food items you don’t know what to do with. Below are more leftover ideas:

I don’t think any of us intentionally want to waste food. A lot of it is habit and satisfying our taste buds! Take a 7 day challenge and see if you can eliminate the amount of food wasted in your home by 50%! Make it a family effort to increase the awareness of wasting food! Brainstorm with the whole family about their favorites, and maybe do a menu for the week. You’ll be glad you did when you see your money saved!


This is a guest post by Tammy from North Carolina. 


For similar articles, check out:

Creative Ways to Use Nearly-Expired Food

Foods to Make from Cheap Refrigerated Biscuits

Haste Makes Waste: Food Storage 101




4 Ways to Eliminate Food Waste in Your Home