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Meal planning may seem like a daunting chore. You’re a busy person with many tasks to knock off your to-do list in a day, and meal planning may be the last item you want to prioritize. But, what if we told you that carving out a little bit of time each week could keep your fridge stocked, your belly full, and your wallet plentiful. Food waste will soon be a thing of the past. We have provided you with 10 tips on how to plan your meals and keep food out of the trash.

  1. Take inventory of what is already in your pantry and utilize what you already have! Don’t let that quinoa collect dust. Instead, mix it with some veggies and protein from the fridge and you got yourself a delicious meal!
  2. Check out your trash can, is that bunch of spinach a reoccurring trash can culprit? Then take note and don’t buy spinach anymore!
    • Basically, what I am trying to say is sometimes we buy items because we like the idea of them or they sound good at the moment, but we get home and never eat them. Or maybe you are serial leftover hoarder. You cook a large amount of something and let the leftovers sit for weeks in your fridge until they have been in there for so long that their next home is the trash. It’s okay! We all have our thing. Take note of those trash can culprits and use it as a way to better track your food waste. Once you find the source of waste, you can streamline and reduce it, we believe in you!
  3. Plan your shopping trip around meals that can build on one another! If you don’t think you can eat a whole head of purple cabbage for one meal, plan two to three meals that incorporate purple cabbage, and watch waste reduction happen right before your eyes!
  4. Speaking of leftovers, those deserve some love too! Plan for meals that taste great the second night in a row.
    • We have all done it. We made a huge pot of something because our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, and so we put it in a container, forget it’s in the fridge and then it goes bad! Make sure your leftovers are dishes you don’t mind eating twice or even three times in a row!
    • Pro Tip! Leftovers are great at the office or for your lunch at school. And it is already packed and ready to go aka more time to sleep in when morning comes since you don’t have to worry about packing a lunch! Thanks, leftovers.
  5. Remember when I said our eyes our bigger than our stomachs? Remember how many people you are cooking for and portion that meal out!
    • The best trick is to make a smaller portion of the main dish and make a lot of tasty sides that you can eat as a snack throughout the week.
    • There are TONS of great resources out there to let you know exactly how to portion out your food. We love the portion planner from Love Food Hate Waste, check it out here! —> Hate Waste? So do we! Portion control starts here!
  6. Plan for a lazy night and have those leftovers stocked! This way you can just whip something together with minimal effort, providing you with more time to relax!
    • Typically, near the end of the week we are all tired! Instead of choosing to eat out, utilize those items in your fridge for a quick and easy dinner.
    • Maybe you have a little bit of couscous, some leftover protein from dinner the other night, and a handful of cut up veggies. Turn those into a delicious bowl and you got yourself dinner! Lazy nights happen, so just plan it into your weekly meal plan and enjoy the fruits of you labor.
  7. Meal planning is easy if your favorite foods are on the menu! Don’t start from scratch each night, because it will be hard to stick to a plan. We recommend planning what you will eat for dinner for the week and try sticking to it. 
    • By doing this, you will reduce the time spent staring into the fridge thinking “what am I going to do with all of these ingredients?” By being strategic, you can get home and start getting down in the kitchen. So grab that pan and all of your other ingredients and get to cooking! Cooking shouldn’t be a hauntingly long process, so keep it simple to leave more time for everyone’s favorite activity; eating!
  8. Essentials are essential, so have a house full of them!
    • Isn’t realizing you are out of a certain spice in the middle of cooking annoying? We totally agree. Having a kitchen stocked full of items that have a long shelf life will make cooking a breeze for you! Grains, beans and spices have a long shelf life so we suggest keeping those on deck. Also keep a few of your favorite sauces to throw in the mix is also recommended.
  9. Your freezer and your food go hand in hand, so set those two up and watch their love grow!
    • Frozen foods are great, so buy fruit and veggies and freeze them if you are worried about eating all of your produce before they go bad! They will still hold the same amount of nutrients, but you can extend the shelf life a bit.
  10. Meal prep will be your best friend in your quest to squatch food waste!
    • Seems tedious, I know. But seriously, setting 30 minutes to an hour once a week to chop, dice, and prep will make cooking so easy throughout the week! Tell your current self that does not want to meal prep that your future self will thank you.

 

We hope you found some useful tips on meal planning to reduce waste. Remember, these things take time, so don’t kick yourself down if you waste a little bit when you first begin. Instead, congratulate yourself when you begin to see waste get squatched!

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