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Ideas to reduce food waste

40 Clever Ideas to Avoid Food Waste at Home

Do you know the amount of food wasted internationally each year is sufficient to provide for the nearly 1bn starved people in the world?

Do you know that an average family can waste around 700 pounds of food every year?

The problem is that a lot of people don’t actually get the idea about how much food they fritter away on daily basis.

I don’t want to over exaggerate, but you’d be surprised to know that the amount of food predicted to be wasted annually in a country like the UK is sufficient to build 60 gigantic buildings like Eifel Tower. Sadly, the US is presently one of the biggest offenders in this waste-producing rip-off. According to the recent statistics, Americans waste nearly 40% on our food stock annually.

Benefits of reducing food waste

Recent Statistics

By controlling food viably and curtailing waste, we not only save some extra money for ourselves but can also provide for individuals who do not have enough to eat.

Here’s an interesting table showing data from the UK and Sweden:

The United Kingdom

(Source: The Waste and Resource Action Programme)


(Source: Swedish Environmental Protection Agency)

Apples – 4.4 million per day. 263 million tons of meat is wasted annually (over 20% of meat)
Potatoes – 5.1 million per day. 1,2 million tons of food is wasted each year in Sweden
Bananas – 1.6 million per day. 224 000 tons of is fluid food (coffee and tea)
Tomatoes – 2.8 million per day. 400 000 tons of food produced by Swedish farmer never reach the market because of the shape
Oranges – 1.2 million per day.

Also, keep in mind, what’s damage to our wallet is also dangerous for the environment. The Swedish household food waste corresponds to greenhouse gases equivalent to the amount that 200,000 cars release in one year (Source: Swedish Environmental Protection Agency).

Now that we’re all adequately dispirited, here’s the good news for you all. You as an individual can bring about big changes by just making small amendments in your style of living. What you just need to do is to go through this post until the end and religiously follow the tips and tricks mentioned below to witness the results. Excited? Let’s explore!

40 Clever Ways to Avoid Food Waste at Home

  1. Pineapples should be placed on soft surfaces in order to avoid pressure loss under their own weight. Make sure to refrigerate cubes/chunks in its own juice (if you intend to use it within 3-4 days after purchase). Frozen pineapple chunks can be stored in an air-tight container for more than 10-12 months.
  2. Basil can be damaged if stored below +8°C, better to dry it.
  3. Chopped chives should be stored in a Ziploc/freezer bag. Make sure to add a few drops of water to prevent moisture.
  4. The chopped chives storing technique can also be applied for cauliflower, artichokes, and salad leaves.
  5. Cucumber is sensitive to both extreme high/low temperatures. Ideally, it should be stored at +12-14°C.
  6. Peppers are sensitive to cold temperature and should be stored at +7-12°C. Also, make sure to place them in a freezer bag (away from the air) to prevent dehydration. Since peppers are sensitive to bumps, try not to store them beneath any hard pieces of fruit/veggies to avoid damage.
  7. You can use horseradish for long period of time by just freezing them. Also, it’s comparatively easier to chop the frozen horseradish than the unfrozen one.
  8. Mushrooms are prone to water condensation and should be stored in an open paper bag.
  9. Tomatoes are sensitive to cold temperatures and taste great if stored at room temperature (try not to bulk purchase tomatoes as it loses its freshness and taste if refrigerated/stored for long period of time).
  10. You can store fruits/berries for more than 10-12 month in a freezing unit. Make sure to refrigerate your veggies before placing them in a freezer.
  11. Use frozen fruit leftovers to make smoothies and fruit slushes.
  12. Oil and vinegar must be kept in dark. Direct exposure to heat and sunlight isn’t good for these ingredients.
  13. As the label suggests, eggs can last more than three weeks if kept in cold and dry place.
  14. Make sure to follow the instructions mentioned on the milk container. Generally, its shelf life depends on the season and how often it is kept at the room temperature. Be certain to check the texture/smell/taste ahead of throwing away the leftover milk. If the expiry date is drawing near, freeze it and use it for the cooking/baking purpose. You can follow the same for fresh cream.
  15. Hard cheese has a great durableness. Even if there are a few moulds on it, you can cut the affected area (about a centimetre around it) and use it. Make sure to use a Ziploc/freezer bag to avoid moisture and air.
  16. The best way to store bread is to keep it at the room temperature and use it within 2-3 days. For long-term storage, wrap your bread in a cling and freeze it.
  17. Always store vegetable oil in a cool and dark place. Some oils become cloudy and dense when you place it in a refrigerator, but they gain back their original form (texture + taste) once you keep it at the room temperature again.
  18. Always store your fish at +2°C. Especially shellfish or fresh shells shouldn’t be stored for more than 1-2 days as they will lose their freshness and taste.
  19. Every refrigerator comes with its own specifications. Some are coldest at the bottom, while others are coldest at the top. Put a thermometer in your refrigerator to know the exact temperature at different places/compartments. You can place meat and milk at the places where the temperature is the lowest, while vegetables should be placed in the compartment with the highest temperature.
  20. If the carrots you purchased turned soft or squishy, soak them in water to regain their shape and crispness.
  21. All fruits and vegetables generate ethylene gas, which helps them grow and develop. Fruits and veggies like apples, melons, tomatoes, and pears emit a huge amount of ethylene, whereas cherries and blueberries produce a very little amount of this gas. Thus to expedite the ripening process, you can, for instance, put avocados with apples in a plastic bag.
  22. Ahead of using/discarding any eatable, make sure to trust your judgment. Try to figure out how well they taste, smell or feel. Any option that you consider isn’t good for a salad can always be used in curries and pies.
  23. Better not to store potatoes and onions together. Potatoes can easily take in the pungent smell of onions and their texture may also get affected by the high amount of ethylene gas produced by them.
  24. Never eat ‘green potatoes’ as they may contain ‘solanine’ a natural substance which is harmful to health. You may, however, keep them in light to get matured in order to avoid waste.
  25. Almost all nuts and seeds have a great shelf life except for cashew nuts (as they need to be stored at +8-12°C). Also, you can refrigerate them in an airtight container so that they can last longer. In case of walnuts/pecans, make sure to refrigerate them in an unshelled form to preserve freshness and taste.
  26. Fatty food can go smelly or contaminated in the freezer. That is why such options usually have a shorter shelf life than fat-free alternatives.
  27. Never keep warm food in refrigerator/freezer. Make sure to cool them properly. To accelerate the cooling process, you can place your utensil in ice or cold water.
  28. Pasta, beans, and rice can easily be frozen in cooked form.
  29. Always freeze meat in flat and thin packages. Plus, it should be frozen instantly to avoid the formation of ice crystals on it (ice crystals will cause the meat become overly dry once defrosted).
  30. To avoid stickiness and bad smell, always store meat without breaking the cold chain. The meat stored in this way can be used even after the ‘best before’ date.
  31. Always plan your purchasing to avoid impulse buying. You can do this by making a shopping list ahead of going to the store (don’t forget to stay committed to your plan).
  32. Never opt for impulse buying, you always end up buying too much food!
  33. Remember, there is nothing better than fresh and unfrozen food, so try to invest in small lots of fresh stock instead of buying things in bulk.
  34. Take time to store your food properly.
  35. Always utilize the leftover food smartly.
  36. Keep in mind, the ‘best before’ date is determined by a good margin.
  37. Always cook a justifiable quantity of food.
  38. Make use of eco-friendly plastic containers to store leftovers. Always refrigerate/freeze your food.
  39. Watch over the average consumption of food in your house on weekly basis. Make your purchases accordingly!
  40. Although asparagus stalks are quite hard in texture and difficult to eat, you can use them in a mixer/blender to make soups and sauces.

Recommended Action Plan

Action plan to curb food waste

A Final Thought

Just make sure to do smart buying. Although it sounds simple, this is perhaps the best thing you could do to avoid food waste. Only purchase things which you consider are really important. Plan out your meals and always make a comprehensive list of items you’ll require. Lastly, use leftovers smartly and always donate generously. Take a hint from this post and by just making little changes to your buying or storing habits, make a great difference for the people living around you. Happy Saving and keep sharing!

Are you dedicated to reducing food waste? What strategies do you have in mind to curtail food waste? Please leave some comments below and let me know your opinion. I would love to hear back!

Gianluca Tognon

Gianluca Tognon

Gianluca Tognon is an Italian nutrition coach, speaker, entrepreneur and associate professor at the University of Gothenburg. He started his career as a biologist and spent 15 years working both in Italy and then in Sweden. He has been involved in several EU research projects and has extensively worked and published on the association between diet, longevity and cardiovascular risk across the lifespan, also studying potential interactions between diet and genes. His work about the Mediterranean diet in Sweden has been cited by many newspapers worldwide including the Washington Post and The Telegraph among others. As a speaker, he has been invited by Harvard University and the Italian multi-national food company Barilla.

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About Me

I’m an Italian nutrition coach, speaker, entrepreneur and associate professor at the University of Gothenburg. I started MY career as a biologist and spent 15 years working both in Italy and then in Sweden.

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