10 Ways to Reduce Food Waste


With SB 1383 (that took effect on January 1, 2022) and the cost of food increasing (approximately 5.9 percent in 2023), food waste has become a topic of concern. Most people don’t realize how much food they throw away every day — from uneaten leftovers to spoiled produce to parts of fruits and vegetables that could be eaten or repurposed. The average family of four spends $1,500 each year on food that ends up uneaten. Here are some impactful ways to reduce food waste at home. By adopting at least one or two of these solutions, they can become a habit, making it easier to use more food waste reducing strategies in the future.

  1. Create a Weekly Meal Plan

Before heading to the grocery store, make a meal plan of the recipes that you would like to make for that week. Think of how you can extend the meal you plan on cooking and expanding to the next night or two.

  1. Check Your Pantry/Freezer

Check what you have in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer before you head out to the grocery store. See what you can use as an alternative ingredient instead of buying something new. Use up those items first.

  1. Create a Shopping List

Before going to the store, make a list of the items that you are going to shop for and stick to it. Going to the grocery store unprepared can result in you buying the same thing that you already have at home.

  1. Shop the Weekly Grocery Ads

Consider looking through what is on sale for the week at your designated grocery store and shop for those items. Sign up for club offers and look for coupons. This will help you not overspend.

  1. Get Creative with Leftovers/Designate Leftovers Night

With leftovers, you don’t have to start from scratch, and it will make it an easy meal. Not only can it save a night off cooking but can be more economical. Or designate a theme night to clean out what is in the fridge and invite your friends over.

  1. Serve Smaller Portions

If you feel that you are cooking a lot and it is not being consumed or used, consider not making as much food as you normally do. Make your portions smaller. By serving smaller portions, it can help reduce food waste, but it can also help your health and waistline, if that is a concern.

  1. Use Food Scraps for Soups, Stocks, and Jams, as well as Re-grow Them

Many ends or not so pretty fruits and veggies can be used for soup stock or cooked down a yummy jam. Think about extending the life of the food scrap and creating something else with it. You can even save roots and veggies and regrow them.

  1. Keep Organized

Keep your refrigerator and your pantry organized, so you can easily find out what you have and what you can use. It might make sense to label items with dates clearly marked, so you identify what needs to be used first. A suggestion is to put those items in front or on top.

  1. Freeze Items

If you cannot use items in a timely matter, consider utilizing your freezer. Freeze items and label them clearly with the contents and date, so you know what it is.

  1. Store Items Properly

Make sure you know how to store items properly to extend the life of your food item. Certain locations and bins in the refrigerator, or airtight containers, can offer a longer shelf life. Determine what can be left on the counter/pantry, what goes into the refrigerator, and what should go in the freezer.


Consider Composting

When you do have food waste, consider at home composting. Learn more about backyard composting, CLICK HERE.

As an alternate solution, you can always place your items in the green/organics bin for your weekly curbside garbage collection.

Food scrap pails are also available to residents of West Contra Costa County for your kitchen for convenient sorting of food scraps for composting or to place contents into the green/organics bin. For more information, CLICK HERE.


Empower Yourself

Take control. Take action. Preventing food from going to waste is one of the easiest and most powerful actions you can take to save money and lower your climate change footprint, by reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and conserving natural resources. (Source: EPA.gov)