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A Meaningful Space: How to Stop Wasting Food

Updated: Feb 3, 2021

Have you ever gone into your pantry to retrieve that cake mix to bake a cake or a can of soup to heat up, and realized that it was expired? Or maybe you come home after grocery shopping and start to put your groceries away to find that you bought items you already have and don't need. It is estimated that the average American household wastes about 250 pounds of food a year! Add that up and in one year we have thrown out over 80 billion pounds of food. Does that number make you stop and think about how you may have contributed? While there are many ways to help reduce the food waste in your home, one of the first places I like to start is the pantry.

First off, keep your like items together! Zone out your pantry space and assign each category a home. A zone for snacks, one for canned goods, baking supplies, breakfast items, grains and pastas, etc you get the picture. Give them each their own place to live. Also, think about where those zones will be located in your pantry. Give priority to items that you use on a regular basis making sure that they are at eye level or within an easy reach.

Second, eliminate those bulk size boxes! We all love shopping at Costco and the discount of buying in bulk; however, those boxes take up a lot of space and they can also hide how much or how little you have left of a product. Think about using containers to hold your staple items like rice, flour, and sugar. In your snack zone have bins or baskets filled with granola bars and individually packaged snacks. These are convenient ways to really view what you have available.

I also highly encourage you to shop your pantry before you go to the store. I call this the "know before you go" shopping technique. Knowing what you have in your pantry, and what you need helps eliminate over purchasing and keeps your space organized. These days technology has made shopping a breeze. Now, with grocery home delivery and curb side pick up options abundant and growing, it is even easier to make sure you buy "right" for your pantry. Keep your list on your phone while you shop or even take a picture of your pantry before you head out the door.

One last tip is to rotate your food forward as you put your purchases into your pantry and do a thorough inspection for expired items every 3-4 months. If you have a question about expiration dates try the FoodKeeper App which is available for Apple and Android users. The app has over 400 types of foods and provides insight on how long to store items in the pantry and in the refrigerator. The app also gives tips on how to properly store food for maximum quality and freshness.

Foodkeeper App from the USDA
FoodKeeper App



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