If You Can Break One Bad Habit in Your Kitchen This Year, This Is It

published Jan 2, 2024
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Rear view of young woman wearing rubber protective yellow gloves, holding rag and spray bottle detergent, hands at her hips, observing clean and sparkling kitchen.
Credit: fizkes for Shutterstock

Although I write a lot about cleaning and organizing, that doesn’t mean I have it all figured out! To the contrary, my house isn’t always spotless (please don’t open the door to my laundry room). I have closets from our interstate move a year and a half ago that haven’t even been set up yet, and my oven’s in dire need of a deep clean. There’s always room for improvement, isn’t there?

While I’m not completely on top of everything (and honestly, I don’t strive to be), I am always on the lookout for strategies that can help tame clutter and streamline household chores for my busy family of seven. When the new year rolls around, I like to use that fresh start energy to take stock of what’s working and what’s not when it comes to home keeping tasks. And this year, I want to be better about reducing food waste

Reducing food waste in my home will save us both time and money because we won’t be throwing out expired food that we didn’t use, or doubling up on items we already have. In addition to saving money, reducing our amount of waste will also impact our food storage and organization systems. Rather than cramming new food into an already pretty full pantry or fridge and then needing to dig through them to find what we need, making sure to use everything we have will clear out the fridge for easier access. 

How I’m Going to Reduce My Family’s Food Waste This Year

In pursuit of this new year’s intention, I’m going to build in a night for using leftovers or items we already have on hand. I routinely try to “shop the fridge and pantry” before I place a grocery order, looking in those places to make sure I don’t already have something that’s on the list (like canned black beans or soy sauce). This helps me avoid buying unnecessary duplicates, spending money I don’t need to spend, and overstuffing my already stuffed kitchen storage areas. 

But adding a planned meal of leftovers — a weekly “Pantry Shop Night” — is a simple, easy extra step in the right direction to further reduce my food waste. I don’t mean merely planning to use up leftovers from a meal, although I definitely try to do that, too. I also mean making space and time in my meal plan to account for those onions that I already chopped, the jar of hoisin sauce that only has a couple tablespoons left in it but is taking up a big portion of the fridge door shelf space, and the bags of frozen corn that have sat untouched in the freezer and are nearly past their prime. 

Purposefully creating meals around these kinds of ingredients will undoubtedly make me a more creative cook, but in the process I’ll stretch my food budget and reduce the amount of food we buy that goes to waste. The only thing left to figure out is why I haven’t done this sooner!

Do you have a kitchen-related New Year’s resolution? How are you going to accomplish it? Let us know in the comments below!