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5 Low Waste Grocery Shopping Tips

During the 2 and a half years Refill Goodness has existed, people regularly ask us about waste reduction in the kitchen. Majority of tips we’ve got tackle food waste and storage as solutions. According to the EPA, the United States discards more food than any other country in the world at nearly 90 billion pounds every year. Food is the largest category of material placed in landfills. Consider all the additional waste brought in the home by the packaging your food comes in too and now your trash can is surely stuffed. Grocery shopping mindfully can save you money, minimize food packaging trash and reduce food waste in your home. Here’s our five low-waste grocery shopping tips!

Evaluate What’s Already in Your Fridge

It’s always the worst when you purchase something and realize you had plenty in the fridge already. Check what food is in your fridge before heading to the store. At this point, you can choose to freeze prepared or prepped food before it ends up in the trash. People also suggest the “use me first” bin and it can be a great practice to add if you notice you’re regularly tossing out food.

Make a Grocery List

Grocery lists help guide us in the store and make sure we steer clear of impulse purchases. Prioritize what you consider essentials and anything else that will help you get finish the food already in your fridge. This is typically when you can look up ideas for meal prep to use in the creation of your grocery store list.

B.Y.O.B. – Bring Your Own Bags

Before heading to the store, don’t forget your reusables! Whether you’re bulk shopping or just going on a quick grocery run, you”ll want to skip the plastic produce and grocery bags. If you are shopping at a bulk store or your local co-op, bring your jars for refilling! Pro tip: have the weight of your jar already written on the container or in your phone to save time and to let the worker know the tare weight. Our mesh produce bags in store have the tare weight on ’em too. We’ve also got an Instagram reel on creating your own on-the-go kit if you’re someone who regularly forgets the bags at home.

Prioritize Bulk, Local & Plastic Free Goods

There are LOADS of products and food items to choose at majority of grocery stores. Select a store that gives consumers low-waste options. Here’s the order we’d recommend when selecting an item at the store:

  1. A package free option – Fruit and veggies without the plastic wrap, bulk nuts, grains and even snacks can come completely package free. Anything that allows you to avoid packaging is a plus! This is where your reusable bags and containers come in handy. Say goodbye to the hefty 5-lb bag of carrots in plastic and hello to grabbing the perfect amount of carrots you need in your reusable produce bag.
  2. Plastic free / Minimal plastic option – Pick a snack packaged in carboard or pasta in a box instead of options in plastic packaging. Go for a steel can of beans ( if bulks beans aren’t available) before the frozen plastic bag of beans. These little choices can add up to big impact over time.
  3. Pick plastic last – Unfortunately most cities in the U.S. make it difficult to grocery shop completely plastic free. If you must get plastic, opt for a local / regional selection or a something in a larger plastic container that will last awhile. Also, make sure you throw out your food’s packaging correctly. Read up on your city’s recycling guidelines for proper disposal on packaging like plastic wrap, plastic jugs, milk cartons, #5 plastic and more.

Additionally, specific things to look for when making your selection are packaging that is made with recycled materials and/or a company that features third-party certifications like “Certified B Corporation”. Give your hard earned money to the companies that care about our planet first.

Clean and Prep Food Immediately

Give your food the greatest chance of being eaten by caring for it after you get home. This means washing your produce, getting those stinkin’ stickers off and even prepping them ahead of time. It’s easier to whip up a healthy meal if the vegetables are already prepped and you can quickly toss them in whatever you want.

Upgrade Your Food Storage

A bonus tip for after you grocery shop: Store food with care. Below are a few storage suggestions we recommend.

  • Silicone Bags – This is a top tier food storage container. They are great for meal prep, freezing food, preparing produce and storing leftovers. Also, Stasher or Ziptop bags are dishwasher safe, can go directly in the oven or boiling water and are fairly translucent – so you can keep track of what’s inside.
  • Glass containers – Mason jars or pyrex containers are excellent for food storage. Following the above text, glass allows the food to be visible so you won’t forget about it.
  • Food organizers – Organizational trays and baskets can be used in the fridge to categorize your food. For example, keeping all cheese in one tray.

You’re Ready to Shop!

Now you are equipped with the the tools to start grocery shopping sustainably. Low waste grocery shopping is also part of the solution to the nation’s food waste problem by purchasing only what you need. Our next blog will focus specifically on food waste reduction and getting creative with leftovers so stay tuned for it coming soon!


Published by Full Of Goodness

A blog by Refill Goodness reflecting sustainable, low-waste and minimalist living. Refill Goodness is an eco market and mobile refillery making sustainability simple.

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