Our Top 5 Tips to Reduce Food Waste at Home

Here at Diaries of a Dietitian we are on a mission to bring awareness to food waste. Did you know that the average Canadian family throws away $28 worth of food each week? That's more than $1400 over the course of a year...yikes!
Not only is wasting food hard on your bank account, it's also bad for the environment.
So for the month of November, we'll be posting some tips and information to help you and your family waste less food and save money!
We want to start out this series by giving you our top 5 tips to help reduce food waste at home.
The first tip is to plan your weekly meals
I suggest choosing one day a week that you can set aside a few hours for planning your meals, doing some grocery shopping and prepping food. After grocery shopping, I find it really helpful to wash and chop up all of my veggies and throw them in the fridge so that they're ready to go into whatever recipe I will be making each night.
By planning your meals and making a grocery list, you'll probably save yourself a bunch of time throughout the week, which I know in my case is something I could definitely use some more of.
Store your foods the right way
Food can quickly go bad if you're not storing it properly. These are my top tips for food storage:
  • Milk and egg products should go in the coldest part of your fridge (inside shelves), not on the door shelves.
  • If your family doesn't eat bread products very quickly, it's actually better to store your bread in the freezer rather than the fridge, which will just end up drying it out quicker.
  • Most root vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, and garlic should be stored in a dark, dry place, and at room temperature.
  • Make use of your fridge's crisper drawers for other fruits and veggies.
Use this guide created by Dietitians of Canada to get more details on proper food storage.
Prepare and cook foods with as little food waste as possible
Whether its fruits, vegetables or grains, try to use as much of each food item as possible. This is helpful for reducing food waste and for getting in all the healthy nutrients these foods have to offer.
Something I always eat with the peel on is sweet potatoes. After giving them a good wash, I chop them up into wedges or cubes, throw some seasoning on and cook them in the oven with the skin on. You can also hold back on peeling white potatoes and carrots, just don't forget to wash them first.
Store and use your leftovers
I find the best way to deal with leftovers is to immediately put them into my lunch container and store it in the fridge for the following day. This stops me from getting lazy and leaving my food on the counter, which increases the risk of it going bad. A quick rule of thumb is to store food in the fridge within 2 hours after cooking.
Many ingredients can be repurposed for a new dinner or lunch recipe the next day. My favorite way to use leftover chicken or beans is to add them to a salad. Get creative and experiment with your leftovers, you might be surprised how far one meal can go.
The last tip for reducing food waste is to keep your food scraps out of landfills by composting
If we do have to throw away food, at the very least, we can try to compost. Composting is pretty easy and a super great way to make a fertilizer for your garden or lawn.
If you want to start, keep a bucket with a lid in your kitchen to collect your food scraps and a sealed compost bin in your yard. You can compost most kitchen scraps, including fruits and vegetables, crushed egg shells, tea bags, coffee grinds, bread, rice, etc. Just remember to leave out any meat or dairy products. Transfer your kitchen scraps to the outside bin and periodically add leaves or paper to help the process of turning your food into compost.
You can usually find a compost bin at any homeware store or if you live in Stratford, composters are available for purchase at City Annex.
For more information on purchasing a composter in Stratford click here.
Keep these tips in mind as you do your grocery shopping and cooking throughout the week. If you have any tricks that you use to help your family reduce food waste please share with us!
Maggie Assaff, MScFN (c), BSc.
Dietetic Intern
Maggie is a masters student from Brescia University College. She is currently completing her practical training to becoming a dietitian. As part of this training, she spent 8 weeks at Perth District Health Unit expanding her knowledge and experience in public health.


  1. Very important topic...thank you for the tips Maggie!


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