On a tight budget? Care about Mother Earth? One of the most sustainability and empty-wallet-friendly things you can do is start reducing food waste in your own household.

 Over 50% of food waste ends up in landfills and American families throw away an average of over $1800 of produce and food each year. By learning how to reduce food waste, you can keep food out of landfills and save major money as well. 

1. Save Your Old Veggies

Vegetables past their prime can have a new lease on life using your freezer. Freeze salad greens that are not quite fresh enough for future smoothies, pasta, or stir-fry dishes. 

Other veggies can be thrown into a gallon sized bag along with any meat scraps or bones. Stick your plastic bag in the freezer and when it's full, cover the scraps in water and simmer a few hours for free stock.

2. Fruit Belongs in the Freezer, Too

Bananas are a great, healthy snack, but tend to go bad quickly. Overripe bananas can be peeled and frozen to go straight into the blender for smoothies, or to be thawed to make banana bread. 

Just about any other fruit can also be frozen to preserve freshness and prepped to toss in a smoothie. 

3. Stale Bread, Be Gone

Bought a whole loaf of bread that you can't possibly eat before it goes stale? Freeze it!

Bread slices thaw at room temperature in about 15 minutes, so you can use the loaf for fresh sandwiches weeks after purchasing. 

4. Get Creative & Repurpose Ingredients

Too late, bread's already stale?

If you're thinking about salad: Make Croutons

How to: Rip or cut bread slices into bite-sized pieces, then toast in olive oil in a frying pan, or toss in olive oil and broil. Add any herbs or spices you'd like.

If you're up for dessert: Make Bread Pudding

How to: Tear up the stale bread and spread it in a 9x13 pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together one cup of milk, one can of evaporated milk, or a cup of milk substitute with an egg or two and your choice of brown sugar, granulated sugar, honey, or maple syrup to taste. Add dried fruit (i.e. raisins) or chocolate to your bread, and pour over the mixture. Bake at 375 F for about a half hour or until golden brown and not soggy. 

5. Take Regular Stock of Your Fridge and Pantry 

The least exciting - but most effective - way to reduce your food waste is to regularly check in on what's getting old, and what you need to use up. Noticing that the greens you bought last week are starting to get wilted and need to be used is far more budget friendly than having to throw out vegetables you've already purchased. 

Pay attention to leftovers, too. Old rice can be reincorporated into a fried rice dish or a salad can become a veggie wrap.

Above all, if what you're doing keeps food out of the trashcan - then it's better for the earth and for your wallet.