Watch Your Trash
For one week, take note of what’s in your trash. Don’t just look at it, but analyze everything that goes in the bin or down the disposal. (If you’re really serious, you might jot down your observations in a notebook.)
Then adjust your habits. If you threw away half a box of stale cereal, either buy a smaller box or store cereal in an airtight container immediately after opening. If week-old leftovers are still taking up real estate, prepare less next time or make a more conscious effort to eat the remainder (for instance, pack it in your lunch bag and leave a note reminding yourself to take it to work).
“When you pinpoint why and what you toss, you can make changes to your behavior,” says Jonathan Bloom ofwastedfood.com.
Take Smaller Portions
Before you dish out another restaurant-sized portion at home, ask yourself if you really will finish what’s on your plate (or, for that matter, if you should). Since it’s unlikely you’ll save that piece of nibbled-on casserole, stick to
smaller portions; you can always get seconds.
Broccoli in the produce aisle has already endured a trip of at least 7 to 10 days — that’s half its life span.
It would be nice if we all lived in California, where there’s an abundance of in-season produce year-round. But the rest of us can still make a commitment to shop as locally as possible, so we’re purchasing perishables that last longer, says Marion Nestle, Ph.D., professor of nutrition at New York University and author of “What to Eat.”
Freeze Your Leftovers
If you know you won’t get to those leftovers soon, store them in individual servings, which will make thawing easier, and cover them in freezer-grade wrap.
Extra ingredients, like broth or tomato paste, can be frozen in ice cube trays to be used later as a base for sauces. Nuts, which eventually turn rancid when stored at room temperature, get a long life in the freezer, since the cold stabilizes their oils. If you have extra fruit, store it in the freezer, too.
And just like the fridge, freezers tend to be too warm: Make sure yours is set at zero degrees.
Be Flexible with Produce
Declare one dinner a use-it-up meal, suggests ecologist and chef Aaron French, designing it around things that are about to go bad. Casseroles, frittatas, soups, and smoothies are all forgiving dishes that embrace food that’s close to turning, like overripe bananas, limp asparagus, or slightly wilted carrots.
“Imperfect doesn’t mean inedible,” Bloom says. Just cut the bruises off fruits and veggies; if they’re moldy, though, it’s time for the trash. Same goes for bread. Moldy cheese? Cut 1 inch around the unpleasantness and save the rest.