Food waste reduction tips from Jonathan Bloom

Shop smarter: We’re all guilty of impulse buying at the grocery store, but this can easily lead to piles of wasted food in household trash bins. To avoid tossing food due to spoilage, Bloom suggests taking small, frequent shopping trips and only buying what you know you’ll use.

If you prefer to shop once a week, try planning your weekly meals ahead of time, making a detailed shopping list and — here’s the tough part — actually sticking to it in the grocery store.

“The average household isn’t using 25 percent of the food it buys,” Bloom says. “So, that’s a good warning sign for everyone out there to think about what they’re buying at the store.”

Be wise on portion size: We all want to be generous with family and friends, but piling plates high with massive portions can lead to what Bloom calls “plate waste.” To put it simply, we tend not to box up leftovers from people’s plates, so this extra food almost always ends up in the trash.

“Our plates have gotten so massive that it’s really easy to put too much food on those plates,” Bloom says. “If you put a reasonable amount on, oftentimes it won’t look generous enough.”

“That gets into the question of what does being a good host look like,” he continues. “I would argue that it isn’t overserving your friends and family.”

Love your leftovers: Some folks look forward to eating leftovers, while others do not, Bloom observes. If you fall into the latter category, use sites like Love Food, Hate Waste or Key Ingredient to repurpose your leftovers into something brand new — ensuring that they won’t go to waste.

Ignore expiration dates: OK, so completely ignoring these dates may not be the best idea, but Bloom suggests using them as guidelines rather than ultimate arbiters of when food has gone bad.

“Those date labels on packages speak to food quality, not food safety,” Bloom explains. “So, if you’re blindly following that date, you’re going to be throwing away a lot of perfectly good food.”

Still fuzzy on these dates? Contributor Kathryn Sukalich breaks it down in a recent post on Earth911.

Compost what’s left: “There’s inevitably going to be some excess food in your home,” Bloom says. “It’s imperative to compost what’s left … to avoid those methane emissions that happen when we throw food into the landfill.”

Think you can’t compost due to a small living space or lack of free time? Think again. Check out Earth911’s guide to composting — with or without a yard — for help choosing the composting system that’s right for you.

Want more ideas? See Reduce Food Waste in 5 Easy Steps

Feature photo used in American Wasteland book cover, courtesy of Jonathan Bloom

By Mary Mazzoni

Mary is a lifelong vegetarian and enjoys outdoor activities like hiking, biking and relaxing in the park. When she’s not outside, she’s probably watching baseball. She is a former assistant editor for Earth911.