Minimalist Eating: How to Reduce Food Waste and Overbuying

By Cora Gold, Editor-in-Chief of Revivalist

Would you take $5 out of your wallet and throw it in the trash? That’s essentially what happens every time you throw out food that went bad in your fridge before you could eat it. If you’re tired of wasting food and money, minimalist eating might be a good solution.

Minimalism involves much more than decor. It’s a way of life centered on the philosophy that things don’t bring joy — experiencing life does. It has several benefits, including reducing unnecessary waste.

Are you interested in improving your food habits, especially as inflation makes each grocery trip more costly? Here’s how to reduce waste and overbuying by embracing minimalist eating.

See Also:

6 Simple Tips for a Minimalist Diet

Minimalist Eating: blueberries in a bowl with some scattered across a white table
Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash

Embrace Meal Prepping

First of all, relax — minimalist eating doesn’t mean going hungry. You won’t have to diet. You might even consume more of the good stuff when you get mindful and brainstorm the best ways to meal prep for your family to make it convenient for your lifestyle.

For example, how often have you tried a new soup or chili recipe that called for only half an onion? Instead of letting the other part go brown in the crisper drawer, double the batch and take the leftovers to work in a thermos or freeze it for a later meal. You instantly reduce food waste and solve the problem of what to eat for lunch.

Are you a member of the “meal prepping makes my dinner choices more restrictive” crowd? You want variety in what you eat, but consider this:

  • You don’t have to prepare full meals: Use your meal prep time for cutting up carrots and mincing onions so they’re ready to toss in midweek stews. You can use them to make various creams, sauces and gravies.
  • You can start a collection: Biodegradable freezer bags are among the best investments you’ll ever make. They save oodles of space and let you portion individual and family-size servings. Building your stash might take a few weeks, but your reward is a nearly infinite healthy variety that’s slow-cooker ready.

Brown Bag It More Often

You might love going out to eat for lunch. It’s OK if you stick to doing so as a special treat, but making it a weekly habit increases food waste.

The average hamburger has grown 23% over the past 20 years. Soft drinks have gotten 52% bigger, and a plate of Mexican food is 27% larger. You probably don’t want to weigh that much more than you did two decades ago, and stomachs have capacity limits — meaning the leftovers often become waste. How many folks do you know who take french fries home to reheat?

Fortunately, embracing meal prepping makes it easier to brown bag it with this minimalist eating tip. Consider investing in a cute lunchbox or even a heated Bento box that cooks your lunch while you perform your morning’s labor.

Experiment With Various Shopping Strategies

You’ll find varying advice on the internet regarding strategies for preventing food waste and overbuying while grocery shopping. Some experts advise buying in bulk, then storing what you purchase in special containers. However, such an approach rarely works for produce and creates more waste as you take food from one container to place in another.

Other experts advise buying only what you need for that day and making more frequent trips. Doing so prevents waste, as you’re less likely to buy something you “might like to try someday,” only for it to grow mold in the back of the refrigerator.

What’s the best grocery shopping strategy for you? It varies — a parent of four will have different needs than a single adult. The trick is to get mindful of your habits. Ask yourself the following questions to devise a better way to shop:

  • What triggers me to overbuy? You probably know you shouldn’t grocery shop when hungry. What other events cause you to pick things you don’t need off store shelves? Many people resort to this behavior when under stress — do you do it to “treat” yourself as a reward after a tough day? If so, can you choose one small indulgence but otherwise stick to your list?
  • Does poor planning contribute? Heading to the store without a list leads to repeat runs and more opportunities for impulse buying. Write one, perhaps using an app on your phone or a preprinted checklist to get only what you need.
  • Do logistics play a role? Lugging bags of groceries on public transit is a headache. If you don’t drive, experiment with delivery services so you aren’t tempted to stop somewhere to grab dinner every day to avoid a heavy load.

Embrace Mindful Eating

Mindful eating can help you embrace minimalist principles. It could even help you meet your weight loss goals if you’re trying to shed pounds. Tuning into the physical and sensual experience of eating cues when you’re full enables you to select better portions and avoid wasting leftovers.

How can you eat more mindfully? Much of it boils down to avoiding harmful habits, like turning off your phone when dining and slowing down to chew your food instead of inhaling it. You can also explore specific exercises, like letting a square of chocolate slowly dissolve on your tongue while you tune into the physical sensations.

Invest in Storage Solutions

The right storage solutions help you embrace minimalist eating and reduce food waste. For example, you can find special containers for produce that promise to keep your greens fresher longer — they’re worth the investment.

You already know that biodegradable freezer bags are a boon for meal prepping. Another worthwhile investment is a set of Mason jars with burpable lids. Fermented foods have oodles of health benefits, and this preservation method lets you save the goodies from your summer garden.

Learn Portion Sizes

Food waste often occurs when entertaining. You want to ensure your guests get enough to eat, but too often, socializing while dining leads to leftovers. Embracing minimalist eating by learning portion sizes can help. Keep the following guidelines in mind when planning your holiday or celebration menu:

  • A serving of cooked vegetables is half of a baseball.
  • A serving of salad greens is the size of a full baseball.
  • A serving of pasta is the size of a tennis ball.
  • A serving of shredded cheese is what fits inside a shot glass.
  • A serving of meat is the size of a deck of cards.

Reducing Food Waste With Minimalist Eating

Do you cringe every time you clean your fridge and discover moldy food? It’s akin to throwing your hard-earned cash in the trash. Reduce waste and overbuying by embracing minimalist eating with the above tips. You’ll save money, tread more lightly on the planet and feel better about your choices.

Cora Gold

About the Author

Cora Gold has a passion for writing about life, happiness and sustainability. As Editor-in-Chief of women’s lifestyle magazine Revivalist, she loves to share her insights and find inspiration from others. Follow Cora on FacebookPinterest and Twitter.