5 Ways to Stop Wasting Food

Blogger says buying more than you need can contribute to greenhouse gases.

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While I'm on vacation this week, other bloggers will be writing guest posts. Here is the first one, from Jonathan Bloom, who blogs at WastedFood.com.

OK, quick quiz:

Which purchase is likely to yield food waste?

a) Discount club—the 30-pack of hot dogs.
b) Supermarket—that bag of washed, cut spinach.
c) Organic grocer—the chayote squash you've always wanted to try.
d) All of the above. When I tell you I write the blog called Wasted Food, you'll know it's d).

I've been writing about how to avoid food waste for three years. As food prices increase, I have an easier time persuading folks not to waste food. But there are also environmental and cultural reasons not to squander. When food rots in the landfill, it emits methane, a greenhouse gas. And by treating edibles as a disposable commodity, we teach our children not to value food. About a quarter of all the food we bring home is not eaten.

You can minimize waste with a few simple steps:

Plan meals ahead and make a detailed shopping list. If you have a purpose for every item you buy, you're less likely to waste food.

Stick to your list and avoid impulse buys. The majority of home food waste comes from buying items not on your list and unfamiliar foods. While that chayote is tempting, you may not get around to it before it gets overripe.

Beware bargains that beget waste. Sometimes "buy one, get one free" deals and bulk purchases are like fool's gold. True Alpha Consumers know that saving a few bucks is useless if you throw away those savings later.

Shop for your real life, not your ideal one. If you find yourself getting takeout and tossing fresh foods, plan fewer home-cooked meals.

Save (and eat) your leftovers. There's nothing better than leftovers for lunch, or you can set them aside for a smorgasbord dinner. Call it "Loco Leftovers Night" and the kids will love it. Actually, can I come?