One Green Thing Series: Reduce Food Waste and Save Money With This Meal Plan

Cooking Light editors are counting down to Earth Day with simple and effective ways they've eliminated waste and cut back on resource usage. In this series, each editor will talk about One Green Thing they've done in their own home, office, or general life to hopefully make our planet just a little bit healthier.

Eating healthy should still be delicious.

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It's shocking and frankly overwhelming. While we certainly cannot change the situation overnight, we can each make a small change in our daily lives that will have a greater impact in the long run.

My change: Throw no perishables away. This can be tough if you just go to the grocery store and shop based on what you're craving, but if you go in with a plan, it's really quite easy. Follow along for a lunch shopping and meal plan that feeds two all week.

The Plan:

Lunch 1: Inspired by Chicken Gyro BowlsMy husband is a fan of chicken thighs, so I used thighs instead of breasts in this recipe and added regular red onions instead of the pickled onions. I also stretched this recipe out into five lunches by adding a little bit more chicken and chickpeas.

SAUCE:1/2 cup 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice2 tablespoons waterBOWLS:2 cups cooked quinoa2 teaspoons olive oil, divided1 cup baby kale, chopped1 teaspoon onion powder1 teaspoon garlic powder3/4 teaspoon dried oregano1/2 teaspoon ground cumin1/2 teaspoon kosher salt1/4 teaspoon black pepper6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs1/2 cup thinly sliced red onionCooking spray1 cup grape tomatoes, halved1 cup thinly sliced cucumber1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained12 kalamata olives, thinly sliced1.5 ounces feta cheese, crumbled*Note: Recipe altered from the original

Lunch 2: Inspired by Strawberry-Chicken Salad with PecansI love this recipe! I have made it three weeks in a row. Strawberries are so delightful right now, and I love the combination with chicken and toasted nuts. The original recipe is served with pecans, but I used toasted almonds instead and served it with 1/2 of a breast per salad and held the farro. This recipe only makes two servings, so you'll see my third recipe below.

Ingredients:4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided1 tablespoon balsamic* vinegar1 teaspoon honey1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme3/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided2 cups halved strawberries, divided2 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast* ( save one for the next three lunches)1/4 teaspoon smoked paprikaCooking spray4 cups fresh baby spinach1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion3 tablespoons chopped almonds*, toasted1 ounce feta cheese, crumbled* (about 1/4 cup)*Changed from the original recipe

Lunch 3: The Mix and Match(Makes 3 servings)5 cups fresh baby spinach4 tablespoons chopped almonds, toasted1.5 ounces feta cheese12 kalamata olives, thinly sliced1 red pepper, thinly sliced1 cucumber, thinly sliced1/4 cup thinly sliced red onionThe other cooked chicken breast from the Strawberry Chicken Salad

Shopping List (and how to use up or save the extra)Fresh thyme - Since you won't use up all of these in, save them by making dry herbs in the microwave.1 container of strawberries - Slice and eat with the remaining Greek yogurt for breakfast one morning 1 16-ounce container 2% Greek yogurt - Save and enjoy for breakfast with the strawberries.2 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast cutletsFresh baby spinachRed onionAlmonds1 Lemon1 Cup dry quinoa1 Cup baby kale4 skinless, boneless chicken thighsGrape tomatoes2 cucumbers24 Kalamata olives - Buy specific amount from an olive bar, or save them—they keep for up to a year.Feta cheese1 Red pepper

Pantry Items:Extra-virgin olive oil, dividedBalsamic vinegarHoneyKosher saltFreshly ground black pepperSmoked paprikaCooking sprayOnion powderGarlic powderDried oreganoGround cuminCanned chickpeas

Make these along with our waste-free dinner plan, grab a carton of eggs and a bag of coffee, and you'll have a week free of food waste. Challenge yourself to eat in more and waste less this week.

See More:

How to reduce food waste

It was reported recently that in the UK, we throw away up to one third of the food we buy each week. This amounts to 6.7 million tonnes of food each year.

As the food crisis increases around the world, it makes sense for us to reduce the amount of food we waste. This will save us money too – imagine saving a third of your weekly food bill!

Food waste is caused by cooking too much and then throwing away the extras, buying 3 for 2 offers and not using things before they go off, impulse buys, poor portion control or mouldy fruit and vegetables.

Many people think that throwing food in the landfill is ok. It’s biodegradable after all, so doesn’t create problems. The trouble is, more often than not, the biodegradable food gets wrapped inside a non biodegradable plastic bag! If the air doesn’t get to the food then it won’t rot down.

In the absence of oxygen, biodegradable materials (such as food, cardboard and green waste) decompose and produce methane gas, which contributes to global warming.

Here are my top ten tips to help you reduce food waste.

Think about the meals that your family enjoys most and make a menu plan for the week. Write down the ingredients you need for each meal on a list. There is nothing worse than pushing a trolley around a supermarket aimlessly with no ideas about your meals for the following week. You often end up with an expensive trolley full of ingredients that don’t go together!

Before you begin your menu plan, take a look at any leftovers in the fridge, vegetable rack and cupboards. Vegetables which are starting to go soft can be made into soup or pasta sauces. Over ripe fruits can be made into pies or blended to make smoothies. Half a tin of tuna could be tonight’s pasta bake and a few spoons of cooked mince could be made into pasties.

Write a list from your menu plan and take it with you to the shop. If you stick to the list you’ll be more likely to resist impulse buys that don’t get used up.

It’s a simple tip but an important one. If you shop when your stomach is growling, you’ll be tempted to buy all sorts of things you don’t need. Plus if you’re focusing on your hunger, you’re not focusing on making good choices.

When you get home from shopping, put all the new food at the BACk of the fridge and cupboards and bring last week’s old items to the front. How many times have you found something mouldy hiding in the back of the ‘fridge?

Be honest with yourself and start writing things down. Do you throw away half a loaf of bread a week? Then why not freeze it and take out slices as you need them. Take individual slices out for sandwiches the night before you need them, or use straight from frozen for toasting. If you regularly throw away vegetables then maybe you need to buy them loose and reduce the amount you buy each week.

Are the seals good and is the temperature set to between 1 and 5 degrees? This ensures your fridge will keep your food fresh for as long as possible.

If you regularly throw out gone off fruit and vegetables then why not turn them into something useful by starting a compost bin. They are easier than you might think to manage and there are a range of styles to suit all garden sizes.
Check out Recycle Now first to see if your council has a special deal on compost bins.
If you have a tiny garden, then you could try a wormery.
If you have no garden at all then why not try a kitchen composter, such as the Bokashi bin? A bokashi bin will even take cooked food scraps. Keep checking back on the site for an exciting competition to win a bokashi bin in the future!

It can be difficult, especially with children who eat like a horse one day and hardly anything the next, to serve the right sized portions. Why not let your family help themselves by taking a small portion with the knowledge that they can come back for more when that has been eaten? Any leftovers can be covered and stored in the ‘fridge once they have cooled down and used the following day.

View today’s leftovers as tomorrow’s ingredients with a bit of creative thinking. A couple of sausages could be made into a pasta bake or toad in the hole, cooked vegetables can be made into bubble and squeak, a bit of pasta can be tossed with vegetables and some chickpeas for a pasta salad, a couple of rashers of bacon can be made into an omlette. The possibilities are endless all you need to do is add imagination.

There is a great website that deals with this issue. The Love Food Hate Waste campaign aims to raise awareness of the need to reduce the amount of food that we throw away, and how doing this will benefit us as consumers and the environment.

On the site you will find plenty of recipes, facts about storing food and even suggestions about portion control.

What about you – what is the best recipe you’ve made from leftovers? Do you have a top tip to help reduce food waste?
Please share it with us in the comments below!

Consumer power

Worldwide, one out of every three bites of food produced never makes it to our mouths. Some — especially in developing countries — is lost in harvesting, storage, transportation and so on. But in developed countries, a good chunk gets tossed out after it’s in the consumer’s hands.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that in North America and Europe the average individual throws out 95 to 115 kilograms (210 to 250 pounds) of food each year.

“Consumers, especially in Europe and the United States, we are the main food wasters,” says Selina Juul, founder of the Danish food waste reduction campaign Stop Spild Af Mad (Stop Wasting Food), which got its start seven years ago when Juul, who emigrated to Denmark after living in Moscow during the tight times following the collapse of the USSR, decided she had had enough of the profligate attitude toward food in her new setting.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that in North America and Europe the average individual throws out 95 to 115 kilograms (210 to 250 pounds) of food each year. In the US, that number is more like 290 pounds (130 kilograms), according to US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service estimates.

Half a super-size jar of jam that was such a good deal but you likely couldn’t consume in a lifetime … the apple and bag of chips prepackaged in the deli lunch … a papaya you purchased but weren’t quite sure how to prepare. It all adds up.

But why is wasting food such a big deal anyway?

For the individual, wasting food is, simply put, wasting money. “One of the things I find so odd is we’re so attuned to the savings on the front end,” Bloom says. “We’ll change what we’re going to buy based on sale items at the supermarket, but we don’t ever think about the cost of food waste on the other side of the equation and how much that adds up to.” On average, according to the US Department of Agriculture, an American family of four throws out close to US$1,500 worth of food in a year.

Wasted food is wasted time, too. Juul says a recent survey found people spend four to five hours per month shopping for the food they end up throwing away. “You can save those five hours,” she says. “That’s a lot of time.”

On a societal scale, many argue it’s a matter of justice: Even though distribution and politics complicate the picture, from an ethical point of view there is little to argue for tossing food when others go hungry.

And from an environmental perspective, it boils down to the fact that we are literally throwing our natural resources into the trash. The implications for the planet are huge: According to a 2009 study published in the journal PLOS ONE, fully one-quarter of the water used in the US goes to produce food nobody eats. The Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs estimates that every kilo of food produced embodies 1.3 litres (0.34 gallons) of gasoline. Even after food is thrown away, its environmental footprint continues to grow as the rotting discards generate methane, a super-potent greenhouse gas. In fact, the UK’s Waste & Resources Action Programme — WRAP — estimates that fully 7 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to food waste.

2 // Plan Ahead

Clearly, we’re biased – but the reality is that having a meal plan in place means that you don’t have to spend the time (and stress) thinking about what to make every single night. You can do it yourself or, of course, use a meal plan service like ours.

That said, it’s not just about having any plan, but rather about having one that sets you up for success throughout a busy week. Here are our favorite plan-ahead tips that will do just that:

1) Have 4 to 6 pantry recipes in your back pocket

Pantry recipes are meals that don’t involve a lot of prep, that don’t require a recipe, and that you can execute with the ingredients that you have on hand. Include at least 1 or 2 of these in your meal plan each week. A few of our favorites are Peanut Noodles, Black Bean & Leftover Rice Soup, and Broccoli & Sausage Orecchiette.

If you need some ideas on what items you should stock in your pantry, check out our Guide to Pantry Essentials. With this list, your pantry will be smartly stocked and you’ll be able to throw together pantry meals whenever you’re short on time.

2) Choose passive cooking techniques

Dishes that use the slow cooker, rice cooker, oven, Instant Pot or airfryer (my new favorite appliance!) are great because the machine does the work. You can just set it up and use that time to prep for the next meal (you won’t regret it) or even give yourself a break.

3) Select recipes that set you up for success

If you’re not that great with a knife, choose recipes with easy-to-chop or even no-chopping-needed ingredients. You can even opt for the pre-chopped veggies found in your local grocery store. They cost a bit more, but they will pay for themselves with all the time you save from not having to chop!

Nowadays, you can find all kinds of frozen, pre-chopped veggies – broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, butternut squash, okra – so choose recipes that contain these ingredients or swap the fresh veggies in those recipes for these frozen shortcuts.

4) Choose quick-cooking proteins & veggies

As we talked about in our last Quick Cooking Series post, denser veggies and tougher meats take longer to cook. Don’t be afraid to substitute ingredients in a recipe for ones that cook faster, such as thin-cut meats or any of the veggies, proteins or grains listed in this infographic:

Frugal Menu Plan


  • Various Leftovers Lettuce Salad with Mexican Dressing and Homemade Ranch Glazed Sourdough Lemon Cake
  • Tuna Toasts 3 Minute Frozen Fruit Smoothie Homemade Popcorn
    – For the tuna toasts we just butter sourdough bread, put it on a baking sheet, sprinkle the bread with shredded cheese and then bake it until it’s a bit toasted and the cheese is slightly browned. Then we make homemade tuna salad and eat it on top of the toasts. So good!
  • Refried Bean and Cheese Quesadillas (used my homemade refried beans) Organic Yogurt Bananas Apples Lettuce Salad with Mexican Dressing and Homemade Ranch Leftover Sourdough Lemon Cake
  • Peanut Butter and Homemade Apple Butter Sandwiches Greek Yogurt with Honey Fresh Pears Bananas Lettuce Salad with Mexican Dressing and Homemade Ranch Pumpkin Coffee CakeI skipped the pecans both to cut costs and also because some of my family doesn’t love them.
  • Meat & Cheese Sandwiches Mini Peppers with Cream Cheese Greek Yogurt with Honey Fresh Pears Oranges Green Beans (for the kids) Roasted Broccoli (for my husband and me) Leftover Pumpkin Coffee Cake
  • Meat & Cheese Sandwiches Potato Chips Organic Yogurt Watermelon Canned Peaches Lettuce Salad with Mexican Dressing and Homemade Ranch Store-Bought Cookies
  • Zucchini Fritters Greek Yogurt with Honey Canned Peaches Apples
    I can’t find a recipe quite like mine for the Zucchini Fritters, but if you Google you’ll find lots of recipes that are somewhat similar that you’ll probably enjoy as much as we do these.
  • Leftover Vegetable Soup Lettuce Salad with Mexican Dressing and Homemade Ranch Birthday Cake Scones


    Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes Lettuce Salad with Mexican Dressing and Homemade Ranch Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars
  • Tuna Toasts 3 Minute Frozen Fruit Smoothie Homemade Popcorn
    – For the tuna toasts we just butter sourdough bread, put it on a baking sheet, sprinkle the bread with shredded cheese and then bake it until it’s a bit toasted and the cheese is slightly browned. Then we make homemade tuna salad and eat it on top of the toasts. So good!
  • Peanut Butter and Homemade Apple Butter Sandwiches Organic Yogurt Fresh Pears Bananas Lettuce Salad with Mexican Dressing and Homemade Ranch Dressing Leftover Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Bars
  • Pepperoni Pizza Quesadillas Organic Yogurt Frozen Cherries Clementines
    The quesadillas are just the topping for a pepperoni pizza inside of a quesadilla. So easy and delicious! Easy Quinoa Cabbage Salad Leftover Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Bars
  • Meat & Cheese Sandwiches Mini Sweet Peppers with Cream Cheese Organic Yogurt Clementines Apples
  • Leftover Zuppa Toscana Soup Lettuce Salad with Mexican Dressing and Homemade Ranch Dressing Bisquick Cinnamon Biscuits(used my Homemade Bisquick Mix)
  • Meat & Cheese Sandwiches (for the kids) Leftover Quinoa Cabbage Salad (for my husband and I) Greek Yogurt with Honey Fresh Pineapple Apples Lettuce Salad with Mexican Dressing and Homemade Ranch Dressing Leftover Cinnamon Biscuits
    – I found pork chops on markdown at our local grocery store- normally they are priced more than I can justify paying!
  • Refried Bean and Cheese Quesadillas (used my homemade refried beans) Organic Yogurt Fresh Pineapple Oranges Green Beans (for the kids) Roasted Broccoli for my husband and I)Black Bean Brownies
  • Meat & Cheese Sandwiches (for the kids) Leftover Quinoa Cabbage Salad (for my husband and I) Organic Yogurt Oranges Bananas
  • Various Leftovers Lettuce Salad with Mexican Dressing and Homemade Ranch Dressing Leftover Black Bean Brownies

Other posts that you’ll enjoy:

Start saving today.

How to Save Money on Groceries is a quick and easy read designed to unpack the Good Cheap Eats System quickly and easily so you can get to saving instead of having to think about it.

With this resource you will:

  • learn to audit your grocery spending
  • determine a budget that’s just right for you
  • identify areas where you can splurge in exchange for paring back in other areas
  • choose the right store to shop at for the best prices
  • understand the steps to planning and grocery shopping that will help you eat well and save money

You can buy the book on its own or if you join the Good Cheap Eats Club in June, you’ll get the book for FREE.

Either way, you’re guaranteed to make back your money in grocery savings. No coupons required.

This post was originally published on April 15, 2015. It has been updated for content and clarity.


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A few weeks ago I was asked by the nice people at WINK News to share some tips for saving on groceries. They tagged along as I prepared for one of my own shopping trips, and then as I shopped with Kristen, a single mom of 4 who had never used coupons before and was looking for some practical ways to cut her food budget in half.

For Kristen and probably every other average mom (or dad) who is just trying to save some money on groceries, the idea of all that time and energy on a single shopping trip was not only overwhelming, it was unrealistic. However, as I explained to Kristen, it IS possible to cut your grocery bill in half without spending all your time clipping coupons. In fact, even if you never clip a single coupon, you can still save significant money on your grocery bill just by changing the way that you shop.

Like anything in life, you have to find the right balance. That balance won&rsquot be exactly the same for everyone, but there are 5 tips I shared with both Kristen and WINK that everyone should know:

1. It&rsquos not about the coupons

I&rsquom going to let you in on a little secret that the producers of TLC&rsquos Extreme Couponing (and every food company and grocery store chain out there) don&rsquot really want you to know: Extreme grocery savings do NOT, for the most part, come from the coupons. The bulk of your savings will come from the store sales. The better the promotion, the bigger the savings, so the FIRST step in saving money on your grocery bill is to SHOP THE SALES.

Always, always, always buy food when it is on sale or at its rock bottom price. And by this I mean really on sale, as in 30-50% off the regular price, not one of those &ldquoSurprising Low Price&rdquo items. (The surprise is that it&rsquos not really on sale!) Compare the store sale ads in your area to find out which stores have the best sale prices, and keep an ongoing price list so that you KNOW when something is a good price.

This does NOT mean that you should buy food just because it is on sale, but instead be on the lookout for sale prices on the food your family normally buys, whether it be all whole foods, organic, or gluten free. Almost everything goes on sale eventually.

Don&rsquot assume you know which store has the best deals until you&rsquove actually checked&ndashyou may be surprised at what you find. Here in Florida, for example, many people assume Publix is the &ldquoexpensive&rdquo store, but when you compare sale ads you will find that Publix consistently has the best sales week after week. Many people also automatically assume that Walmart has the best prices, but most sale prices at a traditional grocery store will beat Walmart&rsquos &ldquoeveryday low price.&rdquo While it has not yet come to my area, I have also heard amazing things about Aldi, so if you are lucky enough to have one in your area, definitely take the time to check it out and compare prices. Because in the end, it is all about the price you pay.

Thus, your goal from now on is to only EVER buy an item when it is at its lowest price. Period.

2. Stockpile, stockpile, stockpile

In order to only ever buy an item at its lowest price, you must buy enough of it while it is on sale to last until it goes on sale again. This is key. Most items go on sale every 6-8 weeks, which means you need to buy enough to last your family that long. If you buy only a weeks worth, you will be forced to pay more the next time you need it because you didn&rsquot buy enough.

Let me make it more clear with an example. Say your family eats 2 boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios every week. The regular price for Honey Nut Cheerios is $4.50 a box, but when you go to the store this week, you see it is on sale for only $1.99 a box&ndashmore than 50% off the regular price! Instead of buying only 2 boxes like you normally would for your weekly shopping trip, you buy 12 boxes&ndashenough to last your family for the next 6 weeks at less than half the price you would normally pay.

At first it may seem counterintuitive to be buying more than you normally would instead of less. However, because you are shopping the sales each week, you will be buying a larger quantity of a smaller variety of items, which means your overall grocery bill will still go down. The goal is to build up your own mini-grocery store in your pantry which you can then use to plan your family&rsquos meals.

Remember that a well-varied stockpile does NOT have to take up a whole room of your house, and you do NOT need to accumulate a whole year&rsquos worth of food. Sale cycles generally run about 6-8 weeks, which means your stockpile should contain about 6-8 weeks worth of a nice variety of food. It also means that it will take about 6-8 weeks before you&rsquove built up a nice varied stockpile and will start to see the most dramatic savings in your grocery bill.

Furthermore, stockpiling does not mean your family has to only eat a diet of processed food. There are plenty of healthy options for stockpiling, including beans, rice, whole grain pastas, whole grain cereals, frozen vegetables, cheese & other dairy products, canned tomatoes, & more.

3. Eat less meat

Going vegetarian just a couple times a week could save you as much as $1,000 a year. Meat costs usually account for a significant portion of people&rsquos grocery bills, so cutting out even a little will make a big difference over time. One of the ways my own family has kept our grocery bill to around $200-300 a month is by eating very little meat and honestly I am shocked at the prices whenever I do buy meat!

I have personally been a vegetarian for almost twenty years, which makes it a little easier for me to come up with creative meat-free meals. However, since the rest of my family is NOT vegetarian, I do make an effort to cook meatless meals that even my meat-loving husband and kids can enjoy.

Here are some of our favorite family-friendly meat-free recipes:

  • Loaded Cream of Potato Soup
  • Easy Eggplant Parmesan
  • 30 Minute Black Bean & Corn Chili
  • &ldquoMeaty&rdquo Vegetarian Lasagna
  • Black Beans & Coconut Rice

I realize that not everyone wants to become a vegetarian, so when you do buy your chicken, beef, or pork, remember to stick to the principles above&ndashbuy only what is on sale, and stock up if it is a great deal. Be sure to also check out these ideas for more great ways to save on meat.

4. Change the way you meal plan

If you normally wing it when it comes to meal planning, running to the store several times a week for last-minute dinner items, this step won&rsquot be as painful as you might think. Instead of running to the store for your dinner supplies you&rsquoll be able to run to your stockpile&ndasha ready-made grocery store right in your own home. You may even find that maintaining a nice, varied stockpile by shopping the sales once a week saves you a whole lot of time, in addition to saving you from the expensive impulse and last-minute buys.

For those of you who normally plan your meals then make your shopping list based on that plan, this adjustment may be a little harder. However, you can still make it work if you get into the habit of planning your meals around what&rsquos on sale and around what items you already have on hand in your stockpile. By minimizing the number of non-sale items you need to buy each week you will find that you can plan your meals in advance and still cut your grocery bill in half.

One great meal-planning resource that I have been really impressed with E-Meals. For as little as $5 a month you can receive a customized weekly meal plan based on your own store&rsquos weekly sale ad. The simple recipes are delicious and family friendly, and although the service isn&rsquot free, it does take a lot of the stress out of trying to plan meals around what&rsquos on sale. They even have a great new app that allows you to get your shopping list, meal plan, & recipes right on your phone or tablet. You can also try it for FREE for two weeks!

5. Learn to match coupons to store sales

It is not by accident that using coupons is the last item on this list and not the first. Coupons can and do save you a ton of money on your grocery bill, but only if you follow these other steps first. When and if you make these changes in the way you shop&ndashgetting into the habit of shopping for only what&rsquos on sale, buying enough to last your family 6-8 weeks, eating less meat, and planning your meals around your stockpile and what&rsquos on sale&ndashyou will see a dramatic drop in your grocery bill, even without clipping a single coupon.

When you begin to match coupons to the things that are already on sale you will see savings that are even more dramatic&ndash50 to 60% off your grocery bill or more! Doing this consistently, week after week, you can literally cut your grocery bill in half.

Learning to match coupons to store sales is not nearly as confusing or intimidating as it might sound. Two years ago I wrote a very easy-to-follow 8 week series called The Beginner&rsquos Guide to Coupons that has since taught thousands of people how to do it, from the very first step of just getting started to making your first shopping list to building a stockpile. It breaks down the whole process into manageable &ldquobaby steps,&rdquo complete with assignments to get you going, and it is completely free.

Another great option for those of you who learn by listening, not by reading, is Grocery University. This incredibly comprehensive coupon course includes 2 hours of downloadable audio files that walk you step by step through the process of saving money with coupons. The course also includes a 40 page workbook and a bonus rock bottom price database.

One of the most common complaints I hear about coupons is that they are all for unhealthy processed food. While this is to some degree true, there ARE coupons available for healthier food options too. There are almost always coupons available for things like yogurt, cheese, soy or almond milk, frozen vegetables, oatmeal, coffee & tea, gluten-free foods, cereal, and basic pantry staples such as pasta, canned tomatoes, and rice. There are also plenty of coupons available for non-food items such as shampoo, toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, and over-the-counter medicine.

The important thing to remember is that coupons come last, not first. Don&rsquot buy something just because you have a coupon&ndashmanufacturer&rsquos count on that! Wait for the sale, then use the coupon. Changing old patterns and shopping habits is never easy, but with these simple changes you really can cut your grocery bill in half.

Just think of what you could do with an extra $75 a week!

Finally, here are the links to the WINK News segments!

You may also love:

If you love this resource, be sure to check out our digital library of helpful tools and resources for cleaning faster, taking control of your budget, organizing your schedule, and getting food on the table easier than ever before.

Encouraging trends

Clearly there is no shortage of initiatives to educate and inspire consumers to keep food out of the trash. But do they work?

Making cause-and-effect connections between the various strategies these campaigns employ and the amount of food wasted is difficult. But concurrent trends are encouraging.

For example, communities participating in Food Too Good to Waste saw a reduction in preventable food waste of 11% to 48% by weight (27% to 39% by volume). Avoidable household food waste in the UK has dropped 21% since the Love Food Hate Waste program began in 2007. A 2013 survey showed that half of Danes reported reducing their food waste over the previous year, and food waste has declined 25% in Denmark over the past five years.

Juul attributes that success to a variety of campaign strategies by Stop Wasting Food, including getting the attention of media, engaging via social media, avoiding alignment with a particular political ideology and using a variety of messages to avoid tiring people out. But, she says, ultimately it all boils down to one simple thing: convincing consumers that reducing food waste is simple and worthwhile.

“The main message for consumers is, ‘Start doing something on your own because it is so easy,’” she says. “It is so easy to go to the kitchen, see what you already have in your fridge, use your leftovers, and be creative. It will really save you so much time, so much money—it’s a win-win situation, and it’s also good for the environment.”

Opinion: How I Learned To Face Food Waste And Plan Smarter

Peter Rabbit encourages people not to waste food as he casually chomps on a carrot on posters around town.

Carolyn Beans is a freelance science journalist living in Washington, D.C. She specializes in ecology, evolution and health.

In Washington, D.C., Peter Rabbit regularly challenges me to stop wasting food. On a billboard hovering beyond my local grocery store and on posters on bus stop shelters, he casually chomps on a carrot while leaning on big bold letters: "Better Ate Than Never."

Food waste estimates vary, but according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, which runs this national "Save the Food" campaign with the nonprofit Ad Council, up to 40 percent of food in America is lost each year. Producing this food requires up to about one-fifth of U.S. croplands, fertilizers and agricultural water. Once tossed, food becomes the No. 1 contributor, by weight, to U.S. landfills, where it releases methane, a greenhouse gas, while decaying.

The Salt

For One Fine-Dining Chef, Cutting Food Waste Saves The Planet And The Bottom Line

Food is wasted across the supply chain — from farms to manufacturers to supermarkets to restaurants. But more than 40 percent of food loss comes from our own homes. According to the USDA, nearly 300 pounds of food per person goes uneaten in American homes each year, costing a family of four around $1,500.

Under Peter Rabbit's watchful gaze, it's getting harder to ignore my four-person family's contribution to this problem. I vow to do better each time I toss rubbery celery or fuzzy jam. But my guilt quickly turns to relief that the offensive food is no longer lurking, and the cycle continues.

"Patterns that contribute to food waste are often bound up in good intentions," JoAnne Berkenkamp, a senior advocate with NRDC, says. "We tend to be aspirational shoppers. We have a big cart. We want to fill it with healthy things. We want to make sure we don't run out."

To finally face my food waste, I weighed all of the food that my family threw away from May through July. I only weighed food that we intended to eat but didn't, so waste like chicken bones and banana peels didn't count.

Factors in my favor: access to NRDC's food saving tips and a spouse who, abhorring food waste, concocts culinary wonders with lifeless produce. Factors not in my favor: my unfounded fear of venturing beyond "best by" dates, a 3-year-old with an unpredictable appetite, and a 1-year-old with a serious food-throwing habit.

Through experimentation and experts' advice, here's what I learned during my family's three-month food waste challenge:

Meal plan (with high hopes and low expectations)

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Planning out meals for the week is one of the most surefire ways to reduce excess food purchases. "Once you start getting into the rhythm of planning, that well-intentioned purchase of fish or chicken doesn't turn up green in the back of the fridge two weeks later," says agricultural economist Brian Roe of Ohio State University.

I've been a meal planner for years, but this experiment made me realize that I rarely follow through. Come Thursday, I'm often too tired to cook or too tempted by a dinner invitation to eat Monday night's leftovers. So I've started planning for late-week meals that may not happen. I drop leftovers in the freezer and decide on Wednesday whether they'll make another appearance that week. Or if I intend to cook, I make sure that whatever ingredients I purchase can handle extra fridge time.

Learn food waste patterns

"Once you understand your own patterns, you can get on top of it and change," says Berkenkamp. She realized that she often buys too much food before leaving town. I discovered that starchy food is my downfall. I always want more rice, french fries and pasta than I can eat. I started preparing smaller portions. And whenever french fries came with a sandwich at the food trucks by my office, I asked for half the typical serving. I paid the same for less food, but since I likely would have tossed half of the fries anyway, I didn't mind.

Start toddlers with smaller portions

Starchy foods, such as french fries or pasta — which are often served in large portions — are typical suspects for the waste bin. Carolyn Beans for NPR hide caption

Starchy foods, such as french fries or pasta — which are often served in large portions — are typical suspects for the waste bin.

I tried to learn which foods my youngest would hurl from his high chair, but one day's favorite was the next day's flying object. The NRDC suggests starting kids off with smaller portions, along with many other helpful tips on wasting less food with kids. I learned to offer a quarter of what I thought he'd eat, and then more when the coast was clear. Mostly this worked well, but 15 percent of our waste was still spoiled milk, largely from his sippy cup.

As for my older son, he was more excited to eat when I let him mix batter or pick vegetables from our garden. "We need to get better at connecting our kids to their food," says food waste consultant Jonathan Bloom, author of the book American Wasteland. "If they have a role in growing, purchasing or even cooking what's on their plate, they'll have more respect for what a beautiful thing food can be."

Stray from recipes

Because of the way fresh herbs are packaged, we almost always need to buy more than a recipe calls for. I threw away portions of five packages of herbs during this experiment. By the end, I found myself considering whether that teaspoon of fresh thyme was really necessary or whether I could swap in dried thyme or a sprig of rosemary I had lying around.

I also started substituting other ingredients. I planned a green beans and tofu dish around tofu that was nearing its "use by" date. There were no green beans at our farmers market, so I bought sweet peppers and sliced them long and thin, and julienned carrots that I already had at home.

The more adventurous can forgo recipes, letting leftovers lead. My husband can work magic with a partially used can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce — smoky bean dip, fiery pizza sauce, spicy egg scrambles.

Know when food is actually spoiled

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Many a good food gets tossed because it's beyond the "sell by" date. But as NPR has reported, those dates have less to do with safety than with the manufacturer's understanding of when the food's flavor becomes less optimal. Instead, give food the sniff test. If it smells funny, don't eat it.

Even armed with this information and the NRDC's tips for reviving food, I've been an adherent to "sell by" dates for so long that it was hard to ignore them. But I made progress. I turned mustard, two months past its expiration date, into a honey mustard vinaigrette. And I've pushed produce limits. Turns out that a slightly rubbery cucumber tastes like, well, a cucumber.

I've also tried to get better at predicting when opened food products will pass their prime. After I let jarred salsa verde spoil in my refrigerator not once but twice, I decided it was time to adjust my expectation of how long an open jar of salsa should last. I consulted the FoodKeeper App, which tells you how long a product will stay fresh in a pantry or refrigerator before and after being opened. For an opened jar of salsa in the refrigerator, it's a month. I went a week too long.

Guilt is not enough for change

"People do have general guilt about wasting food," says Roe. He and then-graduate student Danyi Qi, now an agricultural economist at Louisiana State University, conducted a national survey that found that over 75 percent of respondents either somewhat or strongly agreed that they feel guilty when throwing away food. But people also tend to think that their own contributions to food waste are no worse than anyone else's. Only about 14 percent of respondents felt that their households wasted more food than households of similar size.

While I've long felt guilty about food waste, it wasn't until I studied my food waste habits that I developed steps to change them. But studying personal food waste need not involve a kitchen scale. Berkenkamp simply stops and looks at food before throwing it away. "I ask myself, 'What am I throwing out? Why?' " she says. Bloom says composting has helped him. "In addition to recycling food's nutrients," he says, "it forces you to notice the types and amounts of food you're not using."

Learn from blunders

Over three months, my family threw away 10,553 grams of food, or about 23 pounds. I plotted our daily food waste, hoping to see a downward trend. Instead, I saw a series of peaks and valleys. My new goal, although I'm no longer weighing waste, is to push these peaks farther apart. I'll try my best to get to strawberries before the mold does. And I'll plan meals better before vacations.

I dedicated about 30 minutes each Saturday to meal planning. But my mind also frequently wandered to questions like, "How am I going to use up that half of a cup of ricotta?" As the experiment progressed, I spent more time thinking about reducing waste. It became less of a chore than a habit — one that saves money, leads to new recipes, and makes at least some dent in my family's ecological footprint. Plus, when I pass those Peter Rabbit posters, I can now look the bunny in the eye.

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The commission urged people to slash its consumption of meat, and sugar, by 50 percent and replace them with more fruits and vegetables.

That doesn't mean full-blown carnivores are being urged to go vegan, or even vegetarian. The emphasis is on reduction. Start slow and gradually reduce meat consumption, particularly beef and pork. Eliminate it from one meal a day, and then one day a week or perhaps adopt a “meatless Monday” plan.


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Recommendations to reduce meat consumption aren't new. Last fall, another published study made similar guidelines for cutting back on the amount of meat that people eat.

Shifting to more plant-based meals and curbing meat consumption not only helps the planet, it also improves your health by lowering intake of saturated fat, lowering the risk of developing heart disease and cancer, the world’s leading causes of death.

The Climate, Land, Ambition & Rights Alliance believes people can make a difference in climate change by following a plan that includes the reduction of meat consumption to roughly two five-ounce servings per week. (It also recommends curbing dairy consumption to two glasses of milk and two four-ounce servings of cheese.) Beans, nuts and seeds are good protein substitutes for meat.

But if cutting back on beef and pork even for just one day a week sounds too tough, try a gradual switch by first subbing out the meat with poultry like chicken or turkey, which leave small carbon footprints.