It’s easy to toss out food once it hits its expiration or starts to look a little wilty. But plenty of produce is great for you, even if it is past what we think is its prime.

Here are six of our top ways to prevent food waste and maximize your food budget.

Use It Up Once a Week

Choose a weekly dinner to use everything (or most things) up that are starting to age. There are plenty of recipes you can improvise to take advantage of lots of ingredients, such as casseroles, soups, stews, and frittatas. For breakfast, opt for some baking, such as banana bread, make a slow cooker fruit sauce (think beyond apple), and toss any fruits (and some veggies) in your smoothies.

Shop More Often

Instead of doing one huge grocery shop per week, consider splitting it up into a couple trips for your fruits and veggies. Opt for a couple days to pick out produce that’ll keep for the next couple days without started to wilt, and then stock up again on just those few items a few days later.

Make a Meal Plan

Though we’d like to come home each day and prepare a nice meal from scratch, it isn’t always possible, and much easier to opt for the convenience route… leaving the ingredients you purchased to start to age. When you go grocery shopping, keep in mind which fruits and veggies will go in what dish, and use them earlier in the week. You can always keep leftovers or make double… so use them up when you have time.

The Dates (Sometimes) Lie

You know those dates that say “Sell By” or “Use By”? Yeah, they don’t really mean “if it is past this date you have to toss it. Instead, it is the last day that is recommended you should buy a product in the store… but it still good for at least a week after. When it comes to “Use By”, that is generally when it is the freshest but still don’t go bad. but you can eat it several days to a week after. “Use-by” is the date through which the item will be top-quality. To investigate when to toss things in your fridge, check out

Clean the Fridge

Take 20 minutes to clean out the fridge once a week, making sure leftovers, half-eaten produce, and older ingredients are at the front. That way you won’t end up pushing older ingredients to the back and forgetting about them. When you’re making dinner, survey what should be used for the following day, jot it down, and put it on your counter to remind you for the next day.

Freeze Leftovers in Servings

If you aren’t going to eat the leftovers, pack them up in servings, and it will be easier to thaw them and not have more leftovers when you take it out of the freezer (in eco-friendly freezer-safe containers). Instead of having to nosh on extra soup three days in a row from the freezer, you can take out one portion and enjoy it now… and have the rest ready for another day.


If you enjoyed this post, you might also like reading about a few zero-waste lifestyle swaps.