Healthy Eating and Reducing Food Waste

Embracing a healthier lifestyle is not just about counting calories; it’s also a journey toward making choices that benefit both you and the environment. Most people don’t realize how much food they throw away every day – from uneaten leftovers to spoiled produce.

It’s been estimated that Americans throw away billions of pounds of food each year either at home or when eating out. And that amount doesn’t even include the food that goes uneaten at the grocery store or the crops that are left in farmers’ fields.

Not all food that is wasted can be saved and eaten, but it’s been proven that a lot of food waste could be prevented, especially at home. A good place to start is right in your own kitchen. Here are a few tips that will help.

Meal Plan

The first step is to plan meals based on the foods you already have on hand. Look in the refrigerator, freezer and pantry for foods that need to be used up. Write a list of the ingredients you still need. Buy only the amount of perishable foods that can be eaten or frozen within a few days. This is especially true for fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy products and seafood.

Additionally, by planning ahead, you can ensure a well-balanced diet and avoid impromptu, potentially less healthy choices.

Get Creative with Leftovers

When preparing meals, get creative with using leftovers to minimize food waste. Turn yesterday’s roasted vegetables into a frittata or repurpose cooked grains into a hearty salad. You can also use leftover veggies and cooked meats as a topping for salads or cooked grains like rice or pasta or wrap them in a tortilla or stuff into a pita for a satisfying sandwich.

By reinventing leftovers, you not only reduce waste but also add excitement to your meals. Experimenting in the kitchen becomes a fun and sustainable way to maintain a healthy diet.

Become an Expert on the Shelf Life of Foods

Many foods and drinks purchased at the grocery store include a date, which indicates when it should be used or sold by. Because these dates refer to the product’s quality, it doesn’t necessarily mean they should be thrown out.

“Use by”, “Best by” and “Best Before” dates are found on foods, such as mustard, salad dressing and ketchup. These products usually don’t need to be refrigerated until opened. In many cases, they are safe to eat beyond the date as long as they have been stored properly.

“Sell by” dates are displayed on perishable foods, such as meats and dairy products. It’s possible these foods may be used a few days after that date, as long as they were stored at a safe temperature.

Before heading to the grocery store, take stock of what’s already in your pantry and refrigerator. Create a shopping list based on your planned meals to avoid impulse purchases and unnecessary items that might go to waste.

Produce that is past its prime, as well as odds and ends of ingredients and leftovers may still be fine for cooking. Repurpose these ingredients in soups, casseroles, stir-fries, frittatas, sauces, baked goods, pancakes, or smoothies. You’ll avoid wasting these items and may even create new favorite dishes.

Storage Solutions

Investing in proper storage solutions can significantly contribute to reducing food waste. Keep perishables in clear containers to easily identify items nearing their expiration dates. Consider freezing fruits and vegetables before they spoil to extend their shelf life. Storing food correctly not only maintains freshness but also prevents unnecessary waste.

Place foods that could spoil quickly within sight, such as in the front of the refrigerator or on the counter (if they’re not perishable). Wait to wash produce until right before serving.

Learn which fruits and vegetables to store in the refrigerator. Some produce will cause other fruits and vegetables to ripen quickly, so they need to be separated. And others should be stored in a cool, dark, dry place. Check out for more information.

Embrace the “first in, first out” principle by placing newly purchased items at the back and moving older ones to the front, reducing the chances of items expiring before use.


For unavoidable food scraps, consider starting a compost bin. Composting not only reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills but also produces nutrient-rich soil for your garden. It’s a small but impactful step toward creating a more sustainable and eco-friendly kitchen.

Some companies in Johnson County will collect your compost if you are not interested in starting a compost bin at home. Learn more about composting options in Johnson County.

Eating healthfully and reducing food waste is not just a personal health choice but a commitment to the well-being of our planet. By embracing these tips, we can savor both the flavors of our meals and the satisfaction of contributing to a healthier, more sustainable planet.

Related Blog Posts

Spotlight on Kale

Kale has risen to fame as one of the most beloved superfoods and for good reason. Packed with an impressive array of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, kale offers numerous health benefits that make it a worthy addition to your diet.…...

Spotlight on Artichokes

Artichokes are nutritional powerhouses that offer a variety of health benefits. Packed with antioxidants, fiber, and a range of essential nutrients, artichokes can be a delicious addition to your diet. Health Benefits Artichokes are a nutrient-rich vegetable known for their…...

Build Your Own Smoothie Station

Spring break is the perfect time to engage kids in activities to keep them busy and avoiding the dreaded, “I’m bored.” Why not try creating a Build-Your-Own Smoothie Station? This colorful and vibrant activity not only sparks creativity but also…...

Celebrate National Nutrition Month: 5 Steps for a Healthier You

March is National Nutrition Month. It’s a time to focus on developing healthy eating and physical activity habits you can follow all year long. Choosing nutritious foods and getting enough exercise can make a significant difference in your health. This…...
View More Posts