Meal Planning for Avoiding Food Waste

The Food Waste Epidemic

Food waste is a big problem worldwide. In fact, statistics show that approximately 40% of all food ends up in the landfills. Not only is that hard on our environment due to methane gas release, but it also costs us money. The average family loses $1800 from the food they trash.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make avoiding food waste quite manageable. It begins with careful organization and meal planning. Following, you will find guidance and techniques that I have found useful in gaining control of the food that enters my household.

Setting up for Success

The first step in the process of avoiding food waste is to make your home environment more conducive to doing so.

Store Food to Last

Avoiding food waste with proper storage

There are certain ways and areas of the home in which you can store your groceries in order to slow its decomposition. Consult this site for information on how to store almost everything you unload from your shopping bags.

Organize more Effectively

Don’t lose track of what you have. Our fridges, freezers and pantries can become so cluttered that we end up forgetting what we have. That food then loses its freshness or even becomes spoiled. Try to leave sections in each of these areas for foods that need to be eaten quickly, especially in the fridge. You can label it like this.

Use up What You Have

You should always begin with what you already have on hand. One of the aspects that I love most about the Platejoy meal planning app is the way it allows you to check off the ingredients that you already have so that you aren’t buying them over again. If interested, you can sign up here and don’t forget to save an extra 10% by using my code, GOGREEN10.

Track your Freezer Items

Freezer items, in particular can get lost in the tundra. By carefully labeling each item and then making a list, you can stay ahead of the game.

Make a Plan

Meal plan for avoiding food waste

Meal planning can be a dreaded chore, but it really is crucial to avoiding food waste. Figure out a method that works best for you, whether that is a meal planning app such as Platejoy, freezer meals, theme nights, or even a monthly meal plan.

Check the Sales Ads

The best way to plan for saving money is to start with the sales ads of your favorite grocery stores. Find out which meats or veggies are most discounted that week and they will be the focus of your meals. Try an old favorite or do a search for something new using one of these recipe apps.

Five Ingredients or Less Rule

It holds true that the more ingredients involved in your recipes, the more likely you are to end up with packaging and food scrap waste. For that reason, it’s best to limit your recipes to five ingredients or less. Luckily, you can find a lot of these recipes with a quick google search. Here is a vegan recipe list that I found that fits this requirement.

One Splurge Meal

It can often get a little boring eating within the confines of zero waste, so I think it’s always a good idea to allow yourself one splurge meal where you get to try out a recipe that isn’t limited to five ingredients.

One Crockpot/Instantpot Meal

When meal planning, check ahead to your schedule. That way you can pick a busy night or two to select a crockpot or instantpot meal.

One Leftovers Meal

Toward the end of your week, it’s also a good idea to allot for a leftovers meal. This is where you can use up any leftover dishes that you have from the week. If leftovers won’t be enough, it’s also a good time to use up leftover veggies in a soup, salad, grain bowl or savory pie.

Using up the Scraps

Avoiding food waste by using up the scraps

When meal planning, you should also think about the waste leftover from any food scraps that are likely to be uneaten such as peelings, bones, pulps–even coffee grounds!

Root to Stem

When engaging in a zero waste cooking style, it has become a common practice to find edible ways to utilize every part of produce, from root to stem. You can learn how in cookbooks such as this one.


Leftover chicken bones are perfect for creating rich, bone broths and delicious soups. There are so many health benefits from drinking these broths. I just learned that bones can be used multiple times until they begin to disintegrate.


Composting is the perfect way to make sure you have a good place for all your leftover scraps to go. It’s not hard, here is a guide on setting up your own. If you still feel you don’t have the time or motivation to do it, you can often find a service that will do it for you.

What are your tips for planning zero waste meals?

Here are a few more posts that may help you with your planning:

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  1. Great tips to reduce food waste. I agree that food waste is a problem. The most food waste we create is made by my toddler. He doesn’t quite get the concept yet.

  2. Exactly this is what we normally do “Leftover chicken bones are perfect for creating rich, bone broths”. They are not waste. Bones are far more nutritious then we think.

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