Photo: Reduce food waste with a billion dollar meal plan

Reduce food waste with a meal plan. (Credit: Christopher Casebeer via Flickr)

We're all guilty of the occasional grocery blunder. (My spinach just went slimy!) But Canadians waste more than $27 billion worth of food annually. That's more than an occasional folly — that's a habit. And like any bad habit, the key to breaking it is a good plan.

While $27 billion is a staggering figure, there is a silver lining. Half of that amount is household food waste. (By contrast, food miles — the distance what you eat travels from farm to plate — and food packaging together account for only 21 per cent, or $5.6 billion, of total Canadian food waste.)

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This means that individual action — yours and mine — has the power to make a measurable and meaningful difference. Just cutting our household food waste in half would immediately save billions.

The path to a greener, less wasteful, kitchen lies in good planning. And the champion is a weekly meal plan.

The simplicity is delicious.

Take a few minutes to write out a week's worth of dinners. Start with what's already on hand. Then think about how leftovers can play into lunches, snacks or other meals. You might want to plan a little baking. Or maybe a homemade soup?

Then create a grocery shopping list based on your plan.

I like to scribble my meal plan on the backside of a reused envelope, with lots of little arrows about how today's steamed carrots will turn into tomorrow's carrot soup.

If you're new to this or just prefer streamlined electronic assistance, there are lots of websites and resources — like the whole foods app — that will help you find recipes and even create the shopping list for you!

Buy the food you need. Eat the food you planned. Never again bang your head on the counter for wasting the beautiful bocconcini cheese you bought on a whim and promptly forgot about.
You'll be rewarded with a clean conscience, a healthier planet and a fatter wallet.

Of course, in the quest to curb food waste, there are other effective household actions to be combined with the meal plan — smaller portions, smart food storage, conscientious buying and regular composting, to name a few — but it all starts with a good plan for wasting less!

What anti-food wasting strategies do you use?

Tovah Paglaro, a fellow Queen of Green

October 23, 2012

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Dec 09, 2012
5:24 AM

The freezer is my friend! If I make a batch of something with lots leftover, i freeze portions, ready to pull out next week, rather then have it again the next day. As soon as I see that a piece of produce is going to spoil before I can use it, I chop it and put it in the freezer. Then I have lots of fruits to go into baking or smoothies and veggies for soup, and casseroles. I also use leftover or frozen squash or zucchini in baking. We share leftovers with an elderly neighbour (he doesn’t cook) and sometimes colleagues (there’s always someone at work who didn’t have time to pack a lunch that day). Our weekly food waste for city pick up amounts to about a small compost bag- we have a huge barrel composter in the back yard.

Dec 05, 2012
2:24 PM

Leftovers can be glorious:
1. Take leftovers for lunch (no cooking and no cash outlay for take out food). 2. Leftover Day — Easiest dinner planning of the week. I put out all the leftovers out on the table and everyone in the family has to eat from the leftovers. First to the table gets the best of the leftovers! 3. The 4 S’s: Soups, stocks and smoothies and salad.

Nov 07, 2012
11:00 PM

These whole fruits and vegetables are very beneficial for our health. I think these fruits should take in our breakfast daily for better health. Very healthy sharing.

Green foods

Nov 01, 2012
8:02 AM

That amount is staggering! but great news that its something we can control and work to minimize.

Thanks for the great tips! here are a few more

Andrea Graham Halton Region


Oct 23, 2012
5:10 PM

I would like to purchase new dishes. Can you recommend a name that is lead free??

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