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Food stuffed in a garbage can.

6 money-saving ways to reduce food waste

Do you find yourself tossing both leftovers and unused groceries at the end of the week? With a little planning and know-how you can significantly cut down on your family’s food waste, saving money and meals.

Nancy Waldeck, a chef at Thomas F. Chapman Family Cancer Wellness at Piedmont, shares her favorite tricks for making the most of your groceries:

  1. Meal plan. The better you map out your breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks, the less likely you are to waste groceries.
  2. Freeze fruits and vegetables that are about to turn and use them later. Waldeck suggests peeling and freezing super-ripe bananas for smoothies (this works for berries, too).
  3. Repurpose leftovers. If you have leftover quinoa, make a salad and wrap it in a tortilla or add it to soup later in the week.
  4. Make vegetable stock. If you find yourself with vegetables and greens you won’t use before they spoil, toss them in a zip-top bag and freeze to use for vegetable stock later. Check out Waldeck’s favorite vegetable stock recipe.
  5. Toast or freeze stale bread to use as bread crumbs or croutons.
  6. Roast too-ripe tomatoes and peppers under the broiler to “fire roast,” and then pop in the freezer.

How to know if food is expired

A lot of safe food goes to waste in the United States because people throw it away soon after the “best-by” or “sell-by” date. Many products are good for a few days or even weeks after these dates.

Waldeck recommends using your senses. If something looks, smells or tastes weird, throw it away. For canned and bottled products, she checks the color and ensures the lid is still on tight. If so, she follows the steps above. Doing so can save you plenty of money and time when grocery shopping.

Get more healthy cooking tips from Living Better experts.

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