Each week, the average Pierce County household throws away three pounds of edible food. Multiply that by all of the households in the county and it quickly adds up to 15,000 tons of wasted food going to the landfill every year. (Source: Pierce County Waste Trends Analysis data)

A simple way to waste less food is to plan meals ahead of time and shop for groceries with a list. If that's easier said than done, we can help you get started.


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Epicurious What to cook this week.
ThePrep A week's worth of dinner plans.
Meal Plans From The Kitchn Meal plans, shopping lists and recipes 
Five Weeknight Dishes Weekly emails from the New York Times.
Serious Eats Recipes and inspiration.
Save The Food Reduce food waste at home.
Tips to reduce food waste
Make a grocery list

Plan Ahead. Before heading to the store...

  • Shop your cabinets and refrigerator. You'll be surprised what  you already have.
  • Make a grocery list. This is also a money saving tip - people who make a list tend to spend and waste less.
  • Check your schedule. How many dinners will you cook this week? Don't overplan - be realistic!
Meal Planning and Grocery List Apps
  • Mealime: Customized meal plans, recipes and shopping lists all in one place. Great for learning how to cook.
  • Big Oven: Organize and share your own recipes, plan meals and create a shopping list.
  • Eat This Much: Enter diet goals and favorite foods for personalized meal plans and shopping lists.
  • AnyList: Share your grocery list with your family. Option for meal planning and to import recipes from the web.
store food

Understand Your Food. When you get your food home from the store...

  • Know how to properly store your food.
  • Understand expiration and best-by date labels. When it doubt, give it a smell - the nose knows!
compost and yard waste
shop local

Get Creative! Cook with leftovers.

Cook Once, Eat All Week with these great resources:

Know How to Correctly Dispose of Unused Food. 

  • If you have a yard waste bin, that's where you should throw away your fruit and vegetable trimmings.
  • Try composting! Pierce County Environmental Educators can help get you started

Donate your unused food items to a food pantry near you.

Shop Smart. Eat a more local and plant-based diet.

Several Pierce County farms can help you increase your veggie intake and many accept SNAP benefits. 

Anyone can be a meal planner!

Try some of these strategies if you struggle with planning meals. No organizational skills required!

I'm too busy
If finding time to shop is difficult, consider ordering groceries or meal kits online and having them delivered to your home (but see our note about meal kits below).

An unpredictable schedule can make it hard to plan. Start with just one or two meals a week. That way, ingredients won’t go uneaten and spoil in your refrigerator.

I don't like leftovers
Leftovers are great for lunch the next day, but not everyone likes them, and some recipes make too many servings.

There are online recipes and meal planning apps that allow you to adjust the recipe for the number of servings.

You can also try making things that mix and match with different ingredients. A roasted chicken can be used later in tacos or soup.

I don't like to cook
Not everyone enjoys being in the kitchen. The trick is getting in and out as quickly as possible!

Look for recipes that can be made in 30 minutes or less and rely on just a few ingredients.

A lot of edible food that is wasted is from forgotten takeout containers and leftovers. Keep those containers front and center in your refrigerator so you’ll remember to eat them.
I don't know what I want
If planning specific meals ahead of time just isn’t your thing, it may help to keep your kitchen stocked with things you can use to put together different meals.

Keep cans of beans and tomatoes and boxes of pasta and grains in your pantry. Freeze meat to keep it until you are ready to use it, and stock your refrigerator with versatile fresh ingredients like lemons, limes, garlic, ginger and parsley.
Recycling reminder: Meal kits can help you learn to cook and take the hassle out of shopping. Please be aware that the ingredients are usually packaged in plastic bags, wrap and containers that are not accepted in our curbside recycling program (regardless of what it says on the packaging.)