Mar 14, 2018 12:00 AM

Author: Anne Pesek Taylor


There are numerous benefits that result from decreasing food waste. Not only will you save money from buying less food, but you can help conserve energy. You also will have the opportunity to support your community if you choose to donate untouched food that would otherwise be tossed. When becoming more thoughtful in your food purchases, you are setting yourself up to select more nourishing food.

Reducing food waste really comes down to these practices:

  1. Thoughtfully plan food purchases
  2. Store perishable foods appropriately
  3. Prepare perishable foods shortly after shopping
  4. Find a use for produce that is past its prime
  5. Keep unwanted food out of landfilll

Over the next few weeks, we will guide you through each of these points. Today let’s focus on grocery shopping. 

Creating a Healthy, Budget-Friendly Grocery Shopping List

Unsurprisingly, the most important grocery shopping habit is to make a shopping list that coordinates with a weekly meal plan prior to heading to the store. As a dietitian, I always encourage this behavior to encourage healthy eating habits that are budget-friendly.  Here are some of my favorite tips to help assemble a healthy, budget-friendly shopping list that minimizes food waste:

  1. Look at your calendar. It is extremely helpful to identify plans that keep you from cooking. Consider preparing a dinner that produces leftovers the night before such obligations, or figure out another realistic solution (for example, dinner out or a preparing a speedy meal like veggie quesadillas or salad).
  2. Pay attention to past trends. Take note of the healthy foods that your household regularly consumes and/or discards. If you regularly throw something out, ask yourself why. Too much prep? Short shelf-life? My personal go-to frozen substitute is cubed butternut squash, as I find fresh butternut squash a little too daunting to peel and chop.
  3. Shop at home first. Prior to assembling your list, consider what you already have on hand in the fridge and cupboards so you can plan your weekly meals around these items. 
  4. Identify volumes that you need to purchase. For example, a 14.5 ounce can of tomato sauce or enough salad greens to prepare two dinners.
  5. Buy only what you will use. Buying in bulk only saves money if you get through everything before it spoils.

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