For one week, track how much edible food goes to waste in your home.
- Find a leak-proof container that will hold one week of wasted food, such as a paper bag with a compostable bag liner or a food scrap collection container. You’ll be collecting wasted food separately from your usual food scrap collection container.
- Put a notepad and pen next to the container.
- Place all your uneaten edible food, such as stale bread, moldy fruit, and old leftovers, in the container over the week.
- Do not include inedible food, like apple cores or egg shells. The goal of this exercise is to measure how much food could have been eaten but instead went to waste.
- If you’re worried about odor, store the container in the freezer.
- Do not collect liquid waste, like soup.
- As you add items to the container, note them on your notepad. You can also keep track of why items went bad:
- Bought too much
- Forgot what we had
- Prepared too much
- Spoiled before it was eaten
Don’t try any new steps to reduce your food waste during the week. The goal is to get a baseline of how much food your family typically wastes.
At the end of the week, assess what food you wasted
- Go through your fridge to clear out lingering items that have gone bad. Check your crisper and your dairy drawer.
- Use a ruler to measure how much waste you accumulated over the week. Now you have a baseline to refer back to, and you can complete this week of tracking again after you change some habits to see how you compare.
- Read through the list of items that got discarded and see if there are any patterns about what is getting tossed, or why.
- Decide what you can do differently to waste less food.
- Keep buying more than you need? Here’s a smart shopping guide.
- Do a lot of things go bad before you can get to them? Refer to this smart food prep guide and smart storage guide.
- Do you toss things because you’re not sure whether they’re OK or not? Get a better feel for how long food lasts with Still Tasty.
- Do you get rid of lots of odds and ends, like half an onion, a handful of mushrooms, half a box of broth? Get ideas for recipes and other ways you can use up these little bits of food.
- Check out more ideas for rescuing food and sharing it with the community before it goes to waste.