The Ultimate Guide to Reducing Food Waste!

food waste

11 min read

The Ultimate Guide to Reducing Food Waste!

Have you ever thought about the journey of the food in your fridge? The humble strawberry, for example, has a storied past. It all starts with a tiny seed, which is then carefully tended to for an entire season. It is watered, protected from pests, and eventually hand-picked and packaged.

And it's not just one person who is responsible for these strawberries - thousands of people had a hand in bringing them to you. From the initial grower to the packaging makers to the driver who transported them, each step required time, effort, and resources.

When we throw away food, we discard its history. We waste all of the resources that went into producing it, including the water used to grow the fruit, the fossil fuels burned during transportation, and the time and labour invested in cultivating it.

Food waste is a huge problem; one that has a price beyond the cost of punnet of strawberries.

Could Ending Food Waste Save the World?

It might sound dramatic, but reducing food waste could solve many of the major issues threatening our world. Around the world, one-third of all food grown is never eaten.

If we could end food waste, we would have enough surplus food to feed over 2 billion people. That is more than twice the number of hungry people alive today. At the same time, we would reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 8%, and save billions of dollars as well.

Granted, some food waste is out of the average consumer's control. For example, if the cost of harvesting a field of vegetables exceeds the revenue, the farmer may have to leave it to rot. Similarly, stores and warehouses may discard food that has passed its expiration date or has become unsellable. However, we can make a difference by reducing food waste in our fridge. Even a small change in our habits can have a significant impact.

Reducing Food Waste at Home

If you want to help end world hunger - or simply save on your own grocery bill -reducing food waste in your own home is the perfect place to start. And the best part is, not only is it easy, but it can also be delicious.

The first step in reducing food waste is to take stock of your fridge and identify items that need to be consumed before they spoil. Planning your weekly meals around what's already in your fridge can simplify meal decisions and help minimise waste.

Even if you won't be eating something that's still perfectly good, you can consider passing it on to someone who can use it. The worldwide Buy Nothing project, can connect you with individuals who might appreciate what you can't use.

If you find yourself with spoiled food that's beyond salvaging, you can still put it to good use by composting. Composting is a straightforward process that can be as simple as burying your scraps deeply in your backyard. If you don't have the space or capability to compost at home, consider checking if there are local companies that handle food waste or use a program like ShareWaste.

Although composting is not the ideal outcome for food, it is a far better option for the environment than sending it to a landfill. When food waste ends up in landfills, it doesn't decompose properly, and instead, releases harmful methane gases into the air. By composting, you can help reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and mitigate the harmful impact on the environment.

Try a “Need to Use” Crate

Keeping track of everything that enters your home can be a daunting task. However, there's a simple strategy you can adopt to ensure that food items are used before they spoil. Try designating a crate in your fridge for items that need to be used soonest. This method can help you keep track of perishable foods, including grab-and-go snacks, which may not be formal parts of a meal. By keeping these items in a designated area, you'll be more likely to use them up before they go bad.

Flip Your Meal Planning Process

When it comes to meal planning, the conventional approach involves sitting down and deciding what you want to eat for the week, then creating a shopping list and purchasing the necessary ingredients. Unfortunately, this often leads to food waste as the new ingredients push last week's purchases to the back of the fridge, where they're eventually forgotten and thrown out.

Instead, try planning your meals around what you need to use up in your fridge. Look at what you have on hand and get creative with your meal ideas. For instance, if you have fresh spinach that's about to go bad, consider making a spinach salad or Palak Paneer. And if you have an abundance of eggs, whip up some egg salad or a pound cake for dessert.

Planning meals around your current ingredients can save you a lot of money, as you've already paid for the food. By being mindful of what you have in your fridge and using it up before it spoils, you can reduce your food waste and your grocery bill at the same time.

Preservation Tips

Keeping food fresh is crucial to avoid food waste. However, some types of food can go bad quickly, even if you remember to eat them (looking at you, avocados). To help you keep your food fresh for a longer period, here are some tips on how to store the trickiest fruits and vegetables.

  • Leafy Greens
  • Avocados
  • Berries

It's important to keep in mind that the same trick that speeds up the ripening process can also cause them to ripen too quickly if stored together. So, it's best to keep these fruits away from each other if you don't want them to ripen too quickly.

Now, let's look at how you can use your ingredients efficiently to ensure that your food gets used up in the time you have available.

Meal Planning

Meal planning is by far the most efficient way to help you use up your ingredients in time. Prior to your grocery shopping, look at your fridge and make a list of what needs to be used up first. These ingredients should be the priority when planning your meals.

Meal planning also has the added benefit of preventing you from accidentally buying duplicate ingredients. When creating your shopping list, make sure to only include items needed for your planned meals and avoid buying unnecessary ingredients.

How Gumbo Can Help

We created Gumbo to help food waste on a personal level. When sorting through your fridge, you may find multiple ingredients about to expire. Gumbo solves this problem by allowing you to search for recipes using all your ingredients, even those you think will taste good together.

No more tedious hours spent sifting through Allrecipes trying to find a single recipe that uses multiple ingredients. While the ability to search for recipes by ingredients isn't new, Gumbo's unique feature of using all your ingredients in a single search is what sets it apart. We hope this helps you keep your trashcan free of food waste.

Leftover Night

It’s hard to measure exactly how much food to cook each night. Sometimes we don’t cook enough and end up scrounging for snacks, but most of the time there’s a heap of leftovers that get stuck in the fridge for later.

Leftover night can be a crucial part of keeping that food from going into the garbage. If you cared enough about the food to put it in the fridge after you cooked it, care about it enough to take it out one more time for leftover night!

This not only helps reduce food waste but will also save you a load of time cooking and money as well. It’s a win all the way around.

Getting Picky – Using Scraps

Together, the tips above can help you reduce hundreds of pounds of food waste. However, to reduce food waste even further, you can make use of parts of your food that are often considered inedible. Many people aim to be as zero waste as possible, and there are several ways to go about this.

Save those Vegetable Trimmings

What good is the bottom of the celery, the peel or top of the carrot, or the outer portions of the onion? Bag these vegetable bits up and put them in the freezer. When the bag is full, you can use these scraps to create a delicious vegetable broth that will add depth and flavour to your cooking.

Making vegetable broth is easy. Just drop the scraps into a pot of water and boil them for several hours. Add some seasoning to taste, and you’ll have a flavorful vegetable stock in no time.

Animal bones can also be saved and boiled to create a nutritious animal broth. You can even include them with your vegetable scraps to create a rich and flavourful broth.


If you're a gardener, you can use vegetable scraps in a different way. Almost any vegetable or fruit scrap can be added to a compost heap, mixed with leaves or other “brown” discards, and turned into healthy, nutritious compost. To keep things tidy, consider using a compost caddy in your kitchen.

This compost can then be used to feed your own vegetable garden, without the need for expensive fertilisers or bags of manure!

Even if you don't have a garden or can't compost, you can still help other gardeners by offering them your vegetable scraps. ShareWaste is one program that connects people with compost to those who need it.

If there's no availability in your area, check if your local government has a green waste program that accepts vegetable scraps. Using this service can help divert your food waste from landfills.


If you have pets, chickens, or other animals, feeding animals is another way you can reuse scraps for a good purpose. It’s best to look up what a specific animal can safely eat before feeding them, as it varies from animal to animal.

In general, you can safely replace up to 10% of an animal’s diet in treats and snacks without causing any nutritional imbalances.

That might mean using those fat scraps on your plate as a delicious topping for your dog’s kibble or tossing that limp lettuce to your backyard chickens. In the case of chickens, you’ll get those veggie scraps back in fresh eggs eventually.

Some farmers even take vegetable scraps for feeding pigs. You’ll need to find out locally what is acceptable, and what rules are involved for farm animals.

If you have pets or animals in your life, you can give them unused food to reduce your feeding bill and make them happy. However, it's important to ensure that you reduce their normal meal size appropriately so that you aren't adding unexpected pounds to their midsection.

Final Thoughts

Together, these tactics can help greatly reduce the food waste generated by your household. Reducing food waste is one of the easiest and best ways to help your planet, your wallet, and your family. By taking better care of the food that comes to you, you’re helping to take steps to end world hunger.

While food waste is a critical problem, it's not insurmountable. With the aid of helpful tools and apps, you can almost completely eliminate food waste in your home.

“Whether it’s dinner ideas, breakfast inspiration, or delightful desserts, we’ve got the recipe. We match our results to your tastes, helping you make the most of the food in your fridge. Explore a world of flavours and join the movement towards reducing food waste.”

“Questions, comments or want your recipe site to be featured? Email us at:"

Gumbo full logo

© 2023 Gumbo Limited. All rights reserved.

Terms & Conditions

Site prepared by MOVING

“Whether it’s dinner ideas, breakfast inspiration, or delightful desserts, we’ve got the recipe. We match our results to your tastes, helping you make the most of the food in your fridge. Explore a world of flavours and join the movement towards reducing food waste.”

“Questions, comments or want your recipe site to be featured? Email us at:"

Gumbo full logo

Terms & Conditions

Site prepared by MOVING

© 2023 Gumbo Limited. All rights reserved.