Do you want to to save money and time and help the environment? Of course you do. You can accomplish all 3 goals by wasting less food. Americans waste 25% of the food that they buy according to American Wasteland by Jonathan Bloom. Here are 3 things you can do to reduce your food waste.
Make a Little List
Keep a shopping list on your refrigerator. It doesn't have to be fancy. A simple notepad will do. When you run low on any of your staples, just add that food to the list. Down to your last 2 onions? Add it to the list. Is the millet near the bottom of the jar? Add it to the list. Are you going to make a special recipe? Add any ingredients that you don't have to the list. When it comes time to go shopping, survey your fridge and cupboards for any other items that are low, and add them to the list. Your little list is now a power shopping list. When you go shopping you will be able to buy everything that you need, and you will not have to make those emergency, time-consuming trips to the store to pick up one or two missing items.
Win the Supermarket War
When you go to the grocery store, you are going to war. On the other side is an army of marketing psychologists who have designed your local supermarket to entice you to buy food that you neither want nor need. From the layout of the store, which forces you to traverse the entire store to pick up a carton of soy milk, to the placing of items on the shelves, to the pricing of those alluring special bargains, everything in the store is designed to entice you into buying more. And it works! Researchers asked shoppers entering grocery stores about the items on their physical or mental shopping lists. When they checked the shoppers' carts at the checkout line, 60% of their purchases had not been on their shopping lists. For the creepy details see Supermarket Science - Stores Use Many Strategies to Sell You Their Products.
Your power shopping list can help you slay the supermarket Goliath. You know that it has the items that you really need. Your decision has been made. It's a done deal. You have overcome the wishy-washy indecisiveness that otherwise would have allowed you to succumb to the 2-for-1 special deal on slightly decayed artichokes. Yes, you can still get a few bargains, but your power shopping list will shield you from undue temptation.
If you win the supermarket war, you will obviously save money, but you will also help the environment, because people eventually throw away a lot of the food that they purchase on impulse. Modern agriculture uses water, exhausts our soil, produces greenhouse gases, and pollutes our waterways. Of course, we need to improve our agricultural practices, but we will also reduce our environmental impact if we do not produce food that finds its way into our garbage cans instead of our stomachs.
Allow Yourself a Second Helping
Allowing yourself to eat a second helping will reduce the amount of leftover food that you throw away. How's that? Well, if you have the idea that taking a second helping during a meal is a sign of gluttony, then you will pile your plate full of food when you take your first helping. Often you will not eat all of that first helping food and will throw it away. Instead, take a first helping that has about three quarters of the food that you think that you will eventually eat. When you are done with your first helping, you will not be as hungry, and you will be able to make a realistic assessment of how much you should put on your plate for your second helping. You can even put a little bit less for your second helping than you think you will eventually eat, and go back for a third helping. I have used this method for years and never leave food on my plate.