Meal preps are a great way to save food – and money
09/03/2019 // Melissa Smith // Views

Do you always manage to finish your meals? How much food from the fridge do you end up throwing out? It may seem inconsequential when you look at it from a day-by-day perspective, but if you sum up the amount of food you throw out every week, you may be surprised at how much you're actually wasting.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), about 40 percent of food in the U.S. is wasted. This means that Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion each year, and that the uneaten food ends up rotting in landfills. A simple way to help reduce your food waste is by meal prepping.

NRDC develops meal prep "buddy" to help reduce food waste

Throwing away food is a waste of natural resources and puts a strain on an already overtaxed agriculture industry. To waste food is to waste money. The NRDC estimates that a four-person family could be losing at least $1,500 a year on wasted food.

To reduce food waste, the NRDC, together with the Ad Council, launched the Save the Food campaign in 2016. The environmental nonprofit studied what people usually throw away. The campaign aims to help people utilize anything they could find in their fridge to lessen food waste. In March, the campaign expanded to a whole section on sustainable meal prepping.

Many busybodies practice meal prepping to eat healthy throughout the week. However, it just often leads to unintentional food waste because of over-shopping, over-preparing, and just plain boredom by the end of the week.

For this reason, the NRDC tapped the experienced meal preppers on their team to identify the mistakes they personally face. Then, their in-house food waste experts focused on how they could help home cooks avoid these meal prepping pitfalls.


The whole team came up with one solution: using the NRDC’s Save the Food Guide as a meal-prep buddy. This guide, which is available online, is comprehensive and presents useful advice and information. It also has a variety of recipes that include creative dishes made from leftovers. With the help of this guide, people will not only eat healthily and save time, but also save food and money and help the environment.

"We designed the tool to be evergreen and versatile for users who choose to follow their own recipes, as well as stocked with a solid set of recipes for those looking for inspiration. As we get feedback from users, we'll be taking that into account to evaluate what's next for the Meal Prep Mate," explained Andrea Spacht, sustainable food systems specialist at the NRDC.

More meal prep tips from experts

Here are some tips for waste-free meal prepping:

  • Have your shopping list ready – Having a shopping list complete with the foods you need for the week’s meals can help reduce waste. Check your refrigerator and pantry first to see what staples you already have and what you need to restock before leaving for the store.
  • Batch and freeze proteins – Many meal preppers cook plenty of protein on the weekend to be used for their meals throughout the week. However, there is a high chance of you getting tired of eating the same thing every day. To avoid wasting food, use the “batch and freeze” trick. With this trick, you can still cook a large batch of chicken breasts or ground turkey for tacos but divide it in half and keep one half to use for this week. Put the other half into the freezer for later use. (Related: Anyone Can Prepare Healthy Food with These Meal Prep Hacks.)
  • Don’t throw the little bits of leftovers – Small pieces of vegetables, protein, and cheese can still be used for egg bakes and quiches. You can also add them to a green smoothie.
  • Keep that juiced citrus – Many recipes require a squirt of citrus juice. Oftentimes, the fruit is discarded afterward. Instead of throwing the rind out, you can add it to your daily water. Just cut it and add to your water pitcher or infuser. Citrus peels are a great source of calcium, potassium, and vitamin C.

Food waste reduction starts at home. Read more meal prepping tips at

Sources include:[PDF]

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