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Avoiding Food Waste on Paleo

Containers for Paleo leftovers

It’s one thing to spend money on good food as an investment in your own health. But it’s quite another thing to spend money on good food as a way of keeping your garbage man in business!

40% of food in the United States is wasted. Just to put that into perspective, that’s 1/13 of the total land area of the country, or 368,838,336 acres (576,312 square miles) of land dedicated to growing crops that will never be eaten (out of a total agricultural land area of 922,095,840 acres). That’s an area 3.5 times the size of California, dedicated entirely to growing things that end up in landfills.

This isn’t just an environmental disaster; it’s also a giant waste of money for everyone involved. Food is expensive enough without throwing almost half of it in the landfill! So to make your life a little easier on your pocketbook (not to mention your planet), here’s how to reduce the amount of food waste you create.

Learn Effective Storage and Preservation Techniques

All too often, food gets wasted simply because it goes bad before it gets eaten. It’s the half-bunch of cilantro that goes slimy and gross in the fridge before you need more salsa, or the head of lettuce that you discover in the crisper drawer, completely inedible, after you get back from vacation.

Here’s how to avoid that problem:

Learn to Use Odds and Ends

Have you ever given up and tossed the last few bites of dinner leftovers because there’s not enough to make a meal, but it’s also not reallyFridge full of food snack-y, so nobody really found a reason to eat it? Then you’ve fallen victim to the “odds and ends” problem! This also applies to the non-photogenic parts of vegetables, like the tops and ends of carrots, or the stems and leaves of cauliflower heads.

Here’s how to use those odds and ends to beef up your regular meals:

Also take a look at this list of 17 ways to use your leftovers for even more ideas.

Rethink your Shopping List and Meal Plan

Just as an exercise, for a week, try this:

If you do this for a couple weeks in a row, you might start to notice patterns: maybe you always buy way more spinach than you need, or you’ve been paying for strawberries and then throwing half of them out for weeks. If you’ve got a regular money-waster on your hands, you could…

Once you’re sitting there looking at the list of what you bought and the list of what got wasted side by side, it’s usually pretty obvious.

Another common trap is the “I bought it but didn’t know how to use it” problem: you want to try something new, but never get around to looking up a recipe before it goes bad. To get around this, you might set aside 15 or 20 minutes right after you get home for looking up recipes (or just make it a personal rule that you don’t buy anything unless you have a plan for it).

Summing it Up

Wasting food isn’t just an environmental problem; it’s a major money suck that you shouldn’t have to deal with. There’s no need to go fertilizing the landfill with your hard-won produce!

To avoid this trap, it helps to take a hard look at the list of what you actually do waste, compare it to your grocery receipt, and see what you could cut back on. Getting good at using up the odds and ends also helps, and so does storing everything properly in the first place: label it, keep track of it, and be proactive about using anything that’s about to go bad.