How to save money and reduce food waste

Good Things Utah
Harmons 2
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We waste a lot of food! The US wastes an estimated 30%-40% of our food. At the household level, that translates to a family of four wasting about: $1500, 1200 pounds, and 1.2 million calories worth of food every year. Harmons joined GMU with tips for reducing food waste.

Food waste is responsible for about 7% of all greenhouse gas emissions. By comparison, in the United States, electric power plants are responsible for 5% of greenhouse gas emissions.

Globally, food that’s currently lost or wasted would be sufficient to feed 2 billion people without additional impact on the environment.


  • “Use by,” “Sell by,” and “Best by” dates are all simply suggestions for quality, not safety. Check foods for signs of spoilage before throwing out. The exception is infant formula-do not use past the “best by date.”
  • Menu plan
  • Take a photo of the contents of your fridge before you head to the grocery store to avoid over-buying.
  • Ask “What do I have?” before “What do I want?”
  • Plan to use all one ingredient in multiple ways
  • Cilantro-tacos, guacamole, morning eggs, next day’s salad
  • Buy in bulk to avoid storing food that you don’t frequently use
  • If you regularly throw out fresh fruits & veggies, buy canned or frozen
  • Serve yourself only what you will eat so you can save uneaten food
  • Use your freezer! – Fruit smoothies, vegetable stock, and for quick meals on busy days.
  • Label leftovers so they don’t become a mystery
  • Avoid Excessive Packaging
  • Use a reusable water bottle and/or Harmons’ water filling stations
  • Buy in bulk
  • Avoid individually wrapped items; package them yourself in reusable containers
Chipotle Lentil Tacos
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¾ cup French green lentils (green or brown work well too)
  • 2 ½ cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
  • 1 chipotle pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 head cauliflower
  • Olive oil
Suggested Fixin’s
  • Corn tortillas
  • Guacamole or avocado slices
  • Salsa
  • Lime slices
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Adobo yogurt (plain yogurt mixed with adobo sauce)
  • Microgreens
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Heat olive oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then lower to medium-low heat and cover. Cook until lentils are tender and water is absorbed, about 25-35 minutes.
  3. While lentils are cooking, chop cauliflower into 1 inch pieces, toss with a light drizzle of olive oil and spread on baking sheet. Roast until golden brown or brown and crispy, about 20 minutes.
  4. Warm corn tortillas and fill with lentils, guacamole, cauliflower, cilantro, lime, microgreens, and adobo yogurt sauce.
Nutrition Information:
Serving size: 1/6th of recipe; 160 Calories; 5g Total Fat (0.5g Saturated); 290mg Sodium; 21g Carbohydrates; 6g Dietary Fiber; 2g Sugar; 8g Protein

Harmons says eating more plants can reduce your footprint. Plants have less of an impact on the environment than meat does, so reducing your meat consumption is very effective way to decrease your carbon footprint, or the amount of fossil fuels you use. The average American eats about 8 ounces (that’s half a pound!) a day-about 45% more than the USDA recommends.

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