5 Ways To Reduce Food Waste

As I drove around my neighborhood I noticed lots of garage sales and items on boulevards waiting to be picked up by trash collectors or others. During the spring, many people take steps to clean their closets and garages.

Spring cleaning can extend to our cupboards and refrigerators. Have you ever had to throw out food that has become moldy in your fridge? Have any of your packaged foods lost their appealing taste or color because they were “lost” in the back of a cupboard? Have you bought a large package of food because it had a lower “unit price” and you or your family became tired of the food?

Most of us have had to toss food. No one likes to waste food, because food costs money. These are several ideas to help avoid food waste and throwing your money in the trash.

  • “Shop” your refrigerator, freezer or cupboard. Before going to the grocery store, take stock of what you have on hand in your refrigerator, freezer or cupboard. Incorporate those foods into your menus. Make a list of what you need.
  • Look for recipes to use the ingredients you have on hand. Visit whatscooking.fns.usda.gov/ for recipes and ideas. Many phone “apps” are available that allow you to type in the ingredients you have on hand.
  • Rotate your stock. When you buy “new” food, move the “old” food from the back of the cupboard or refrigerator to the front. Use the “older” food before the “new” food.
  • Preserve your excess food. If you find a bargain on fruit this spring, you can freeze it or dry it. Check out ag.ndsu.edu/food and click on “food preservation” to learn about freezing, drying and other food preservation methods.
  • Examine your trash. Are you throwing certain foods more often? Maybe you need to buy smaller quantities of the ingredient so it doesn’t go to waste.

Learn to use what you have on hand to make a meal in a bowl, soups, sandwiches, casseroles and other menu items. Visit www.ag.ndsu.edu/food and click on “Food Preparation” then “Pinchin’ Pennies in the Kitchen.”

 Do you have any canned mandarin oranges in your cupboard that should be used? Check out the fresh broccoli at the grocery store.

Broccoli Orange Salad

1 large bunch fresh broccoli, broken into florets
1 (11-ounce) can mandarin orange segments (packed in juice), drained
1 red onion, sliced and separated into rings
1/2 c. low-fat French salad dressing

Wash broccoli well and separate into florets. Add oranges and onions. Toss with dressing and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving.

Makes eight servings. Each serving has 50 calories, 1 gram (g) fat, 10 g carbohydrate, and 1.5 g fiber.

Menu idea:  Egg salad sandwich on whole-wheat bread or tortilla, Broccoli Orange Salad, oatmeal-raisin cookie, Low-fat or fat-free milk.


Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., F.A.N.D., is a professor and food and nutrition specialist for the North Dakota State University Extension Service.