Eliminating waste while grocery shopping can be easily done by planning ahead and bringing a few essential items with you.
As a consumer, eliminating waste in the kitchen tends to start while grocery shopping. When you make your grocery list, think about what you can do to buy less packaged foods.
Originally Published On: January 2, 2019
Last Updated On: June 11, 2020
Have a Grocery Shopping Plan
Before you hit the grocery store, try to make a meal plan for your family. There are many advantages to having a plan, including not over purchasing and making sure you will use everything you buy.
Once you have your meal plan ready, use that to make your grocery list. I find it helpful to separate a few things on the grocery list. Across the top of my list are a column for produce, one for cold foods, one for frozen, and one for non-foods. Everything else goes on the bottom half of the page.
Shop the Perimeter
I’ve always heard that the healthiest way to do your grocery shopping is to stick to the perimeters of the store. Think about most stores, and what’s around the edges: fresh produce, dairy products, meats, and the bakery. In general, those foods aren’t highly processed.
They also don’t usually come with a lot of packaging, either. Fresh produce can almost always be grabbed individually. The pieces may have a few stickers on them, but it’s better to grab that than the bundles wrapped in plastic.
Stick to the List
Make your list, and then stick to it! When you stray from the list, it’s easy to get caught up in sales on processed, packaged foods. The only time I allow myself to go off-list is for fresh produce. For example, we love pineapple, so if I see it on sale, I will grab one.
You made a list for a reason, those are the foods you need for your meals for the week. Grabbing many more foods means something will likely go to waste. Also, it’s easier to stick to a budget when you only shop from your list.
No Waste Grocery Shopping Essentials
When at the grocery store, it’s so easy to cave to conveniences. But if you plan ahead, and take a few extra minutes, it’s possible to greatly cut down on the amount of waste you bring home.
There are a few No Waste products I have either purchased or been gifts and a few on my wish list. All of these help reduce our waste when grocery shopping.
Reusable Shopping Bags
There are a few options when it comes to reusable shopping bags. Most of the ones we have were free from events we’ve attended. Many places are giving out these bags to attendees, and we hold on to them. If you don’t have some, you can get started with some of these:
If you want bags that have a little more of a design to them, you can also find bags such as these:
Sturdy bags are a great option for the foods you need to keep from getting smashed. These bags are good for things such as eggs, bread, and fresh produce:
And, if you don’t live very close to the grocery store, or if you travel a lot, having an insulated bag may be helpful:
Reusable Produce Bags
Carrying your groceries to the car and into the house isn’t the only time that plastic bags are commonly used in the grocery store. You’ll also find the bags near the fresh produce. Most of the time, I see these used if someone is grabbing multiple of one thing, such as grabbing a few potatoes. Or, they are used when something is wet, such as the lettuce and broccoli that are misted in the store to keep fresh.
There are two basic options for produce bags. The first is a mesh bag. This is what I use because they are see-through so the cashiers don’t have to take everything out, and I can put the bags straight in my refrigerator and still know what is inside.
Sometimes, though, it’s better to have a bag that is not mesh. When you have delicate greens, such as lettuce, basil, etc., it’s better for them to stay moist. The cloth bags will hold some of the moisture while also allowing it to breathe and let out the gasses they create, meaning they will stay crisp longer.
Containers and Jars
While reusable grocery bags and produce bags can be used at almost any grocery store, the rest will depend on your store. If you have a way to do bulk grocery shopping, then you’ll need containers for that. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a bulk store around me that allows your own containers. The closest I’ve found is a bulk section at HEB but you have to use their plastic bags because there isn’t a way to
If you are lucky enough to have the opportunity, then I would suggest some mason jars. Even if you don’t use them at the store, they are great for storing bulk items and leftovers at home. I prefer the wide mouth jars since it’s easier to get things in and out.
I know these aren’t 100% plastic-free because of the lids, but I’ve had a similar set for many years now with no problems. These are great for storing meat since they are wide and flat. If your deli will allow it, you may even be able to convince them to put your cold-cuts in the container instead of a plastic bag.
- Have you tried any of these products before?
- What was your favorite?
- Which would save the most waste in your grocery shopping?
- Do you have a bulk store near you?
- What other things do you to to eliminate waste when grocery shopping?