Let’s face it, groceries are just not packaged with the smaller household in mind. Packs of meat, bundles of herbs and big boxes of snacks meant for 4-6 people can lead you to toss food before you can get to eating it. Luckily, there are some easy fixes that can stop you from filling up your garbage at the end of the week which can save some serious cash.

Shopping

First, let’s start with some introspection.

Take some time to look in your trash bin. What’s there? Bananas that are too ripe? Slimy leafy greens? Leftovers that you were sick of eating? Whatever it is, use that to guide you in making some changes.

Overbuying can be a major part of the problem. We may want to eat healthier and so buy too many vegetables only to find that we don’t actually enjoy eating them. Or we may be over-optimistic about how much cooking we’ll do each week. The first step is to take a serious look at how much you’re buying and see where you can easily cut back.

This goes hand in hand with meal planning. Sit down with your schedule for the upcoming week and consider what kind of time you’ll have to cook (and how tired you’ll be). If you know you’ll have leftovers one night, will you reheat them or put them into a new dish like fried rice, a sandwich or an omelette? Knowing your plan ahead of time can make decision making much simpler during the week.

Storing

Freezers are a great friend to the smaller household. Cooking one larger meal and freezing individual portions for later can be the difference between a warm, delicious meal and a cold bowl of cereal. Invest in single portion freezer containers to make it easy to reheat just what you need.

Freezers are also helpful for holding onto those small bit of fruits and veggies. That squishy fruit can be frozen and popped into a smoothie. So can lettuce! Freeze those leftover lettuce pieces and add in with that frozen fruit.

You can even freeze milk! To make it user-friendly, freeze milk in ice cube trays to easily add to your morning coffee or tea.

Cooking

And finally…cooking. Recipes with a long list of ingredients is a, well, recipe for wasting food. Look for simpler menu ideas that don’t require small bits of many fresh herbs, uncommon sauces, or vegetables that only come in large portions (we’re looking at you, celery).

Sometimes, though, we can’t help but make too much. Use these times to share with neighbors or invite some friends over to enjoy it with you. Who doesn’t love a home cooked meal made by someone else?