Reducing food waste is not only beneficial to the environment—it also teaches you how to save money on groceries. By taking small measures to cut back on the amount of food you throw away, you can creatively use what you buy to try out new recipes and eat more homemade meals, all the while keeping your bank account full and happy (much like your stomach will be after eating all the delicious food you're going to make). Choosing to make these minimal changes in your lifestyle will prove to be friendly to your budget and Mother Nature herself, even if you think your fast-paced daily routine may prevent you from making a significant difference in the world.

Before you head out for the grocery store this week, conduct a quick refrigerator cleanse using the following tips to help you reduce food waste and hold out from buying items that you already have at home. Although the changes are small, the extra cash you save and the food you protect from disposals by following these steps adds up, leaving you with countless benefits to reap in the long run.

1. Don't Buy More Than You Need

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Caroline Ingalls

It's as simple as it sounds. Buying what is more than necessary for you to eat during the week is detrimental not only to your wallet but the environment. According to the EPA, about 95% of discarded food ends up in landfills or combustion facilities. So much of this can be avoided by just buying the amount of food you'll actually use throughout the week—you can always go back to the store if you need more. That way, you save a lot more money for yourself and you do your part to help save the earth by keeping as much waste out of landfills as possible.    

2. Plan Your Grocery List Ahead of Time

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Jocelyn Hsu

Planning ahead is one of the most practical preventative measures you can take to reduce your food waste and stop impulse spending. By listing out ingredients you use on the daily and some more specific ones you may need for certain recipes, you can properly budget your money and clearly envision how much you'll really need to purchase. Instead of making rough estimates, try writing out exact measurements of what you need to enhance your judgement when shopping.

3. Store Your Food Properly

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Denise Uy

Deciding which foods to store in the refrigerator, freezer, counter top, or pantry is a very elusive process. Although you may have a general idea of where each item goes, there's a good chance that you're not storing some of them properly, thus shortening the freshness period of your products. Stashing older items in the front of the refrigerator also lessens the amount of food you're wasting by ensuring you get rid of them before you indulge in the newer ones, which have more time to remain fresh.

#SpoonTip: Don't miss this list that explains where to store each type of food for maximum quality.

4. Use Your Freezer

smoothie, milk, yogurt, blueberry
Caitlyn Ramsay

This one's a real game changer—if you have a freezer, use it! Freezers are under-utilized resources that can end up saving you a lot of money if you put them to good use. Fruit going bad? Stick it in the freezer to throw in your smoothies later. Can't eat that bread in time? Freeze it and heat some slices up in the toaster for breakfast. Your freezer is definitely a huge time-saver, providing a great way to preserve your uneaten foods for you to quickly heat up or blend on the go.

5. Use Your Leftover Fruit in Cobblers or Pies

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Julia Gilman

If you just can't seem to get ahead of your rapidly-aging fruit, throw them into cobblers or pies for a yummy and resourceful method of disposal. Raspberries and peaches, strawberries, any other types of berries laying around your refrigerator, and apples are all extremely versatile fruits that can be made into regular-sized pies to share or personal pies (honestly, you'll probably want to go with the latter). 

6. Use Stale Bread to Make Delicious Desserts

chocolate, candy, sweet, coffee
Jocelyn Hsu

Never throw your bread products away again. Whether it's cake, doughnuts, or bread, staleness does not mean these baked goods have reached the end of their run. They were made to be re-purposed into mouth-watering desserts that are ridiculously easy to make. Next time you bite into that last piece of cake just to find that it's stale, don't be disappointed. Make it into a trifle, a cake pop, or maybe even a milkshake!

7. Use Vegetable and Meat Scraps for Stocks

soup, carrot, vegetable, broth, onion, celery
Helena Lin

Turning kitchen scraps into luxurious homemade broths is super simple, Earth-friendly, and will save you the money you'd normally be dropping on pre-packaged broths in the store. All you have to do is save vegetable extremities overtime and store them in the freezer as you build up your collection of scraps. Once the bag is full, you are ready to make your homemade vegetable stock. The same can be done for chicken stock by using chicken bones along with other veggies. 

#SpoonTip: Don't know what to do with your leftover summer veggies? Try making this easy pizza recipe for a healthy and refreshing meal.

8. Actually Eat Your Leftovers

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Jenny Georgieva

It's not rocket science, folks. When you take home food, actually eat it. Obviously it's delicious enough for you to take it home in the first place, so why waste it? Instead of shoving it in the back of the refrigerator for it to rot, eat it for lunch one day so you don't have to spend a ton of money on takeout. I know reheating food may not seem very appetizing, but keep in mind that you don't always have to use a microwave to do it—there are other ways to heat up leftover food that doesn't make it taste soggy or gross.

It's true that our busy schedules don't allow much time for us to think about reducing food waste on a regular basis. But by taking it one step at a time, these changes will come easier as you continue to rely on your creativity to find sustainable ways to incorporate your excess food into delicious and easy meals. Plus, Mother Nature will thank you.