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Tips to reduce your food waste

Posted: Jul 6, 2017


Tips to reduce your food waste

Food waste is a significant issue today. It’s estimated that Canadians waste $31 billion on food each year, with almost half (47%) of the waste occurring at the consumer level*. You might not have control over what goes on in grocery stores, restaurants, retail settings, or food processing, transportation and distribution etc. but you DO have control over food waste in your home. Take action with these simple tips…

Meal plan

  • Planning your meals during the week, allows you to be organized with your grocery shopping (your meal plan can function like your grocery list!). It also helps you use up the foods you have in your fridge and pantry if you try to base your meals on what you need to use up.

Take inventory

  • Make it a routine to take inventory of your fridge, freezer and pantry before you head off to the store. This is a pivotal step in helping you with your grocery list as well. This 5-minute activity can save you money, prevent you from buying something you already have, and ultimately help minimize your food waste.

Save your leftovers

  • Repurpose your leftovers for lunch the next day. Don’t throw out that extra rice, vegetables, meat or whatever it is- it will still be good tomorrow! Tip for salads- don’t dress the whole salad while you’re preparing it for dinner, have everyone dress their portion and if it doesn’t all get eaten then you won’t have soggy greens for the next day.

Understand the temperature zones in your fridge

  • Knowing where to store things in your fridge can help foods stay fresh longer, delay spoilage and help reduce overall food waste.
  • In the door (warmest part of your fridge)- store condiments, juices, DON’T store your milk/opened non-dairy beverage, cream or eggs here because the temperature can fluctuate each time you open and close the fridge which can lead to quicker spoilage of these products
  • On lower shelves (coldest part of your fridge) store raw meat, dairy/non-dairy beverages, yogurt & eggs
  • On upper shelves (most consistent temperature in your fridge) store leftovers, ready-to-eat foods (e.g. deli meat, hummus, cheese), berries, herbs
  • Use your crisper for fruits and vegetables, they help maintain moist temperatures to preserve your produce. Keep fruits and vegetables separate- apples, peaches, pears produce ethylene gas which tend to make vegetables limp and may promote spoilage

Use your freezer

  • Freeze leftovers if you don’t think you’ll eat it the next day. Meat, tofu, beans, lentils, chickpeas, rice, quinoa can all be frozen.
  • Use your freezer to store your bread products and NOT your fridge. Storing your bread in the fridge can make it go dry and stale, opt for the freezer instead and take out pieces as you need them.

Understand “best before” vs. “expiry” dates

  • Best before dates refer to the shelf life, quality and freshness of a product before it is opened. According to Health Canada, if the product is opened or the food is frozen this date no longer applies. Many foods can be consumed after their best before such as eggs, milk, yogurt if you have stored them properly. Packaged greens and vegetables are often fine after their best before as well. Here is a helpful link to help you determine how long certain foods last after their “best before” date:


  • A food shouldn’t be consumed after the “expiry date”. In Canada, only 5 types of products are mandated to have an expiry date: baby formula/human milk substitutes, nutritional supplements, meal replacements, pharmacist-sold foods for very low-energy diets, formulated liquid diets. Here is another helpful link:


*Gooch M, Felfel A, ed. Caroline Glasbey. $27 Billion revisited: The Cost of Canada’s Annual Food Waste.: 2014. Retrieved from: