How do you avoid food waste?

I would like to share my strategies for dealing with food waste reduction. I am obsessed with wasting as little food as possible. Food production has a big toll on the environment, and hey, I am paying for it, so I’d rather not throw it away. I can be a bit extreme, so I am starting with the easy stuff, hope you find some ideas here that work for you and feel free to share your tips ! Special shout out to @Julianek and @rolandinho :seedling:

How I reduced my (food) waste :

  1. Make an audit : for a defined period of time, a week or one month for example, mark down every single piece of food you throw to the bin or compost. If you can estimate it, write the value in CHF.

  2. Analyze what you are regularly wasting and group the waste in families. Here are a few typical examples:

  • Last ½ cup of cooked rice or pasta
  • Stale bread
  • Soggy vegetables at the back of the fridge
  • Meat bought as a “value-pack” 3 for 2 (not so great value if you throw it away!)
  1. Identify the 2 or 3 waste families which are the most recurrent or represent the most money thrown away and find an action plan for them. For the examples above :
  • Weigh your pasta/rice before cooking so you have exactly the right quantity
  • Stale bread : make crackers for a dip or croutons for a salad or soup before it’s completely dry
  • Make soup once a week with the veggies lurking in the back of the fridge
  • If you buy meat in a value pack, freeze what you are not going to eat within the expiry date.
  1. Some other ideas:
  • Don’t go food shopping when you are hungry
  • Make a meal plan but leave at least one day unplanned per week
  • Your freezer is your friend ! A LOT of food can be frozen before it goes bad
  • Think of your leftovers as the start of your next meal -> this is where I really have fun, so give me a shout if you need inspiration. Techniques like pickles, preserves and fermentation can be used to help save your food from the compost pile.

After writing this, I realize it applies to all areas of waste : general waste as in your bin or trashcan, waste of money, waste of time etc…

What about you? Do you have special tips to avoid food waste ?


Buy frozen food.
Buy dried food.
Buy unprocessed food
Buy fruit and vegetable which can be kept a long time.
Drink water from tap
Eat a plant-based diet (better for health, animal, environment and budget), thus I have less food with an expired date. For example: grain, lentilles ect


I basically never throw away food. In the last several month I did throw away a quarter of a lemon because I forgot it in a box in the fridge. Another time I did throw away some stale bread (100-200g?) because I didn’t let it dry quickly enough to stale correctly (stale bread can be used for bread cake). I had some strawberries that were starting to rot, so I just cut that part away and cooked the good part with some sugar to make a delicious jam.

The problem with food waste might be also a problem of time. If you live far away from shops, you might tend to buy a lot of food once in a while and then having problems finishing it.

I live close to a coop and migros and I basically buy groceries every day on my way home after work. I only buy what I want to eat right now and I buy small portions. This “don’t buy when you’re hungry” tip seems funny to me. You’re an adult human being, control yourself! Be conscious in your actions. When I buy when I’m hungry it’s the most fun, at least I know what I want to eat.

I don’t have a car so weekly shopping and hoarding food in the fridge wouldn’t work for me. I don’t consume much carbs, so I don’t even know what I could buy that would last a week or two. Fruit, vegetables, meat, all these things you can forget about.

+1 for tap water, I also do this. -1 for frozen food, I don’t think it’s healthy and also it isn’t very tasty.

Oh, as for ecology myths, did you know that a reusable eco bag has the ecological footprint (consumption of water and other resources) of 100 recyclable plastic bags? So I don’t carry around a shopping bag, I just always pay the 5 rappen for the plastic bag and then throw it away. Convenience matters.

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afaik the only way to preserve nutritions better than with frozen veggies is go buy the same stuff at the farm within a day of harvesting, so not really practical. i dont think frozen (raw) food is that bad. taste is a different story :wink:


dont forget frozen fish. Better frozen than “fresh”.

@Bojack but if you basically buy stuff every day, you will easily consume more than 100 plastic bags per year thus being not ecological.
Just say it’s convenient for you and we’ll be ok :slight_smile:

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The UK EPA report backs him up on this point, finding that reusable plastic bags only need to be reused 4-11 times, and cotton bags a whopping 131 times, to ensure they have lower global warming potential than the ultra-lightweight, single-use plastic bag.

I was referring to the cotton bags, which you can’t realistically always have on you, as they’re too big. So it will take years, before a cotton bag “pays itsellf off”.

I thought you go shopping daily which would make the payback only about 27 weeks (assuming you do not go shoping on weekends)

I have some cottongs bags and so my parents. Some of them are probably 10 years old. I do take it with me only when I plan to buy many things.
I suppose is relative to someone’s habit. Anyway I didn’t know it was such a big number.

Don forget the health risks of a re-used cotton bag. They are are heaven to germs, especially when getting moist.

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If you really care about the environment, I’d suggest eating a plant based diet. Animal agriculture is a leading contributor to a whole host of environmental issues. As wapiti said above - it’s better for your health, the environment, the animals, and you’ll save a bundle of cash on food and medical bills.

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From what I’ve read and seen, a plant-based diet (i.e. vegan) can definitely help protect the environment. Meat production uses enormous resources and causes animals to suffer and breed deadly viruses, which cause epidemics.

As for the health benefits (which this topic is not about :stuck_out_tongue:), the opinions differ. Among advocates of vegan diet is dr Greger, who wrote the book “How Not To Die”. He does the tedious work of reading scientific research and then discusses it on his YouTube channel. On the other hand, a different youtuber, “What I’ve Learned”, also seems to have done his homework, and he says meat is good.

I think ‘how not to die’ is indeed the central question if you insist to eat vegan.
Oh, and if you want to improve the environment, then don’t eat soya.

For other view, I’d recommend books of Gary Taubes: . He’s one of the leading fat-is-good-so-go-paleo-diet researcher.

Right, the work of Dr Greger and his team is incredible. I strongly recommande to read the book How Not to Die and the videos. BTW, they are looking for volonteer to collect the researches from the academic website.

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side note about plastic bags:

Are you serious? What are you transporting in this bags - organs for transplants? :wink: Most of the food is anyway packaged… and whatever is not you will wash and cook.

I’m sorry but this is really bad argument to use. Half a year ago I moved to new place… picked up (free!) strong cardboard box from supermarket and saved probably 100+ bags over that period. What would you do with them? Dumped in rubbish bin and pass to next generation to solve the problem?

If box doesnt work for you - get yourself a backpack - will carry all you need for work and shopping after office.

I think this forum is as much about frugality as much as it is about not being a jerk - to the world around you and future generations that are going to live here. So perhaps apart from promoting ideas that saves you $$$ we can push those that do it in a bit more conscious way?

the cotton-bag thing is a nice idea but not only environmentally total crap, rather the worst option you have:

I am best because i use my backpack and no separate bags at all :wink:

citing a friend who summerized the article:

Yes, I am serious. As this has been tested and proven.
I’m sorry that you seem to think you gut feelings have equal weight as facts and scientific studies, because then it does not make much sense to have a discussion. The study below is another example.
Plastic bags are not a bad solution - neither is plastic packaging of food stuff.
Food waste has a much larger impact.
What we all agree on is that any packaging should not end up in the environment, but that also is a topic by itself.


I didn’t read @nugget 's paper, but I hope they also mentioned the issue about microplastics, otherwise they are missing one of the most important issue we have lately. (google for “microplastic in salt”).

Anyway we all agree that packaging shnould be correctly disposed.