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How I minimize my food waste through meal planning!

Meal prepping; the ever so daunting task tackled by food fanatics and gym rats alike. It sounds so simple on paper, just a matter of buying fancy glass containers then prepping the food to put in them. From there, it’s just about eating the contents in a timely manner. Chicken and rice, broccoli and salmon, tofu and green beans, seemingly always limited to perishable vegetables and protein. Perishable foods are something I struggle greatly with, as life never seems to go as planned and foods never manage to be eaten before that gleaming expiration date, once distant becomes the past in the blink of an eye. 

I became tired of living through the cycle of ambitiously buying healthy foods only for them to expire and mold before they even had a chance. That’s when it hit me; I’ve been preparing my meals backwards. Let me put you on to a simple and genius food organization hack. All it takes is a piece of paper and roughly 10 minutes of your time, and I can guarantee you will stop throwing out as much food as you were before.

To start, simply go grocery shopping as you normally would. Buy veggies without restriction, but have some recipes in mind. When you get home unload your groceries onto a counter or the kitchen table, but do not put them away quite yet. This is where our new hack comes in. The key to eating foods before they expire is simply writing down the expiration dates. Now, instead of those teeny-tiny numbers being buried throughout the items in your fridge, they’re all in one place where you can’t forget about them. I look at it as a sort of to-do list of things to eat, with some foods a higher priority than others. The faster a food goes bad the higher up on the to-do list it exists. We aren’t limited to foods we buy at the store either! Those pesky leftovers always make my list. Below is a visual representation of what to expect:

FoodExpiration Date
Bell Peppers4/08
Grilled Chicken4/09
Leftover pizza4/09
Mozzarella Cheese4/12
Ravioli4/13
Eggs4/15

All I do is plop a magnet on my list right at eye level so before I even open my fridge I’m being reminded what I should get to eating first. I’ve begun thinking one step ahead and planning what meal should be coming next based on the ingredients with the least amount of shelf time. Using my system in conjunction with a grocery pad or meal planning pad, such as This One by Mom Agenda, or This One by bloom daily planners, has been exponentially beneficial towards easing the pain felt by my wallet. It’s one of the best habits I could have formed as a young adult. I implemented this system into my personal life a few months ago and have wasted so much less food than I previously did. That gut wrenching guilt I felt when throwing away food I failed to eat is a feeling that I have experienced substantially less. I am nowhere near perfect, but nowhere near the food waster I once was. 

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