Sustainable America Blog

How to Reduce Food Waste Like a Chef

Learn proven ways to waste less food and save money

Are you ready to tackle food waste in your kitchen? Now, you can do it the way professional chefs do it.

When restaurants want to cut waste, they start by measuring how much they’re wasting. This process, called a food waste audit, provides a snapshot of what’s going to waste and how much. Then it’s easier to zero in on strategies that will make the biggest difference.

We’ve designed our I Value Food: Too Good to Waste Challenge so that anyone can do a restaurant-style audit in their own kitchen. And we’ve just relaunched it to make it simpler and more fun to do.

How It Works

  1. Measure preventable food waste for 1 week using a quart container.

  2. Try out proven waste-reduction strategies while continuing to track waste for 3 weeks.

  3. Discover how small shifts can yield big savings!

Here’s a video that explains how it works:


In the first week, you’ll discover what you’re wasting by logging waste in our online app. Then, we’ll send you weekly tools and tips to try as you continue to track your waste. At the end of the month, our log will calculate how much food you saved. People have been able to reduce waste by 25% using the tools in the program!

>>Take the Food Waste Challenge<<

We can’t stress enough how valuable the measurement piece is to making lasting change around food waste. When you throw out a cup of rice here, a rotten banana there, it may not seem like much, but it all adds up. By measuring it, you’ll not only get a better sense of the scope of the waste, you’ll able be able to spot trends and find solutions.

Chefs are focusing on food waste because it makes sense for their bottom line. It can make a real difference your pocketbook, as well. A family of four spends up to $1,500 on food that ends up in the trash every year!

>>Take the Food Waste Challenge<<

The challenge is a fun project to do as a family. It helps teach kids about the value of food and learn smart habits around how to use it. You could also set up a competition among a group of friends or family.

We’d love to hear what you learn from the challenge. Post photos of your food waste challenge and tag them with #ivaluefood, or email us at info@sustainableamerica.org.

RELATED ARTICLES
Quiz: How Much Food Do You Waste?
7 Grocery Shopping Tips That Reduce Food Waste
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By the Numbers

Currently 50 million households suffer from food insecurity, meaning that family members cannot always meet their basic food needs.

10 million people a year could be fed through the recovery of just one-fifth of food waste.

Only 2% of food waste is composted or otherwise recycled—62% of paper is recycled.

Consumers throw out about 40% of the fresh and frozen fish they buy.

The U.S. produced 208 pounds of meat per person in 2009—60% more than Europe.

Low income commuters spend a much higher proportion of their wages on gas—8.6% versus 2.1% at $4 per gallon.

Food prices rose 35-40 percentage points between 2002–2008.

Americans consume 25% of the world’s produced oil, but our nation holds less than 3% of the world’s proven oil reserves.

The International Energy Agency says greenhouse gas emissions rose 3.2% last year, with a 9.3% increase in China offsetting declines in the US and EU.


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