Meal Plan Tips for a No Waste Kitchen

Reduce the amount of food wasted in the kitchen by creating a meal plan. This will help you save food as well as time and money!

One of the best ways to reduce the amount of waste that comes into your kitchen is by having a meal plan when you are ready to hit the grocery store. Of course, a grocery list makes a big difference, too. 

Originally Published On: October 10, 2018

Last Updated On: April 20, 2020

What is a Meal Plan?

A meal plan can mean different things for different families. For some, they like to plan what meal will be eaten on each specific day of the week. Others just plan the meals they are going to make, but decide closer to the day which they will make. 

Either way, making a meal plan means knowing what meals, usually focused on dinners, you are going to make until the next time you grocery shop. We try to plan for two weeks at a time. But we always end up running in between for the things that go bad sooner, such as produce and bread. 

Why is a Meal Plan Important?

Why Make a Meal Plan?

When you make a meal plan, you plan out what meals you are going to make. By doing this, you can make sure to use up all of the food you purchase and don’t overbuy. 

For example, Monday you may make a meal that uses half of an onion. So, on Tuesday, try to make a meal that will use the other half of that onion. In doing this, you are preventing food from going to waste. 

Also, when you know what you are planning to cook, you can make a proper grocery list. Then, take that grocery list and check your kitchen. Do you already have enough pasta in the pantry? By checking you can avoid buying something that you already have. 

How Does a Meal Plan Help with No Waste?

As mentioned, making a meal plan can help you on the way to a no waste kitchen in a few ways. You can plan out your menu to make sure that you use up all the food you purchase. By making a grocery list and checking it before you leave, you can also prevent yourself from purchasing unnecessary food. 

How do I make a Meal Plan?

There are many ways to make a meal plan. And as with everything on this journey, you have to figure out what works best for you and your family. Here is what works for me:

  • Start the grocery list with the staples you know you need. For example, we go through a lot of almond milk so that is always on our list. 
  • Once you have your staples listed, decide a few of the meals you want to make. Write down the ingredients for those meals, and note if you will have any leftovers from that next to it. 
  • Look through those leftovers you will have, and see if there are meals you can make to use that food. Write down any other ingredients you may need for those meals. 
  • Take the grocery list to the kitchen and see if you already have any of the items on your list. You don’t want to spend money on food that you have. It’s a waste of money and will waste food if it goes bad before you use it all up. 
  • If you want to pick a night for each meal, then it’s best to plan the meals that have the freshest foods earlier. This way those foods are used before others that have a longer shelf life.

Your Turn

The next time you need to go grocery shopping, try creating a meal plan along with your grocery list. Find ways that you can either cut down on the amount of over purchasing you do, and make sure you are going to use up fresh foods before they go bad.

Proper meal planning can take a few extra minutes each week, but in the end will help prevent food waste. And preventing food waste also saves money since you aren’t throwing away food you paid for.

More No Waste Kitchen Ideas

24 thoughts on “Meal Plan Tips for a No Waste Kitchen”

  1. I am not a meal plan kind of person because well, my husband hates eating at home – so I really can’t buy what we are going to eat for the week because the food would be WASTED. It drives me crazy for the most part because I do like cooking at home, but he TOTALLY WHINES when I say we are eating at home today and drives me bananas!

  2. We use a very similar meal plan strategy everyday/week. Its helpful to have a plan so that the meals aren’t a huge obstacle. Love that you plan to use the freshest ingredient first and use items with a greater shelf life later in the week! Great suggestion!

  3. I always mean to plan our meals at the beginning of the week to avoid wasting food but it never happens. And unfortunately we often all end up eating different meals at different times which makes planning a total nightmare!

  4. I am the worst at meal planning. We need to do it though I actually wanted to but didnt have the money for containers. Maybe I will get motivated again soon

  5. When my kids were little, we used a meal plan because I grew up in a home where meal plans ruled. They are a great way to prevent waste and to ensure that balanced meals are prepared and served. I don’t do it as much because my kids are older and I’m very particular about my food choices anyway. I would still recommend it to families with children.

  6. I love having a meal plan! It makes shopping so much easier, removes the stress of “what’s for dinner,” and reduces waste. The only problem is not everyone in the household is as enthusiastic a supporter.

  7. I love doing meal plans with little food wastage.. unforutnately my husband will grab extra things at the grocery store and I’m inevitably left with food that goes bad. *sigh*

  8. Although meal plans can be hard to organise when change come into your life it is such a good idea when you are like me limited to a budget . I really liked this post made me think about organising my life haha. Morgan x

  9. My hubby and I are so opposite in this regard, because we both love to cook (so switch turns) but he is such a NON-planner, that between that + the demands of his teaching job, I rarely know more than 8-10 hours ahead of time who is cooking dinner on a given night! So he is more a stop by the store, see what is on clearance or on sale or on his mind, buy accordingly, and cook (though he is getting MUCH better about consulting me first on whether we already have something, or if we need more!). I am more a go-out-and-stock-up-on-staples-when-on-sale gal, who (except for asking him to grab some fresh produce or more milk on the way home from work) can literally cook out of what I keep on hand in the freezer/house/that half-onion left over from his dish the night before/the already cooked meat or side he made 2 nights ago, etc. for weeks if not a month-plus! So I guess we complement each other (and don’t waste a ton unless he buys produce and then forgets about it) – and we eat up our leftovers for lunches plus occasional “leftovers” dinners (even the girls get leftovers for lunch!) – and we cook pretty much everything from scratch – BUT, meal planning would DEF be easier if it were just me cooking!

  10. That does make a lot of sense when it comes to using food and waste. I do not think about it often. Usually, I just end up using the whole onion, but it would be better to make smaller amounts. Just need more planning like you said.

  11. I hate wasting food so this is a great plan for how to no no waste meal planning. I appreciate the tips!

  12. Melanie Edjourian

    I need to work on meal planning as it can also mean you can make extra dishes for the freezer. I normally decide a day or two before or on the day what i’ll make although I rarely end up with waste luckily.

  13. I used to take a grocery list years ago and it was so much more organized than just shopping (without one). I’m not sure how I got in the habit of winging it, but I think it’s time to turn things back around.

  14. I hate seeing food go to waste, and I am admittedly not great at meal planning. I will have to work on some of these things for a better waste-free kitchen. We do compost food items though.

  15. I meal plan every week so I know to use up fresh bits/ things in the freezer and so we don’t waste things and we do a pretty good job of staying on track x

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