Challenge activity — week 2
The benefits of pre-planning meals and making shopping lists.
Get started creating healthy habits that will help you reduce avoidable food waste — with the aim to keep edible food out of the green bin.
Most of us spend way more money on food than is necessary. For a lot of people, it’s the second biggest expenditure, right after their mortgage or rent. But did you know that your food expense is one of the easiest ones to control? The key is simple – plan what you will eat ahead of time – before buying your groceries! When we do this, not only do we save money, we’re more likely to buy what we need, and discard less.
Planning is one of the most basic of organizational tools. We plan our vacations, we plan our “to do” list for the week or our schedule for the day, but fewer people bother to plan their eating. Taking a few minutes each week to sit down and plan your meals can save you time, effort and stress (by saving you from the 4:30pm “What am I going to make for dinner?”) during the week. Studies show that planning our meals ahead of time also helps us to make healthier and more thoughtful choices – whether for our own bodies, or for the planet.
When we plan ahead, we have a better chance at success! This week’s challenge is key to creating new habits, which you can practice over the next five weeks and sustain long term.
- Make healthier choices.
- Facilitate meal prep.
- Reduce stress
- Save money
- Reduce household food waste!
Think about planning weekly repeats, like Meatless Mondays or Homemade Pizza Night on your meal plan schedule.
Plan to use certain ingredients more than once – a bunch of spinach can be more than a great side or salad, it can be a yummy, healthy layer of any lasagna!
- Start this week by taking an inventory of food you currently have on hand – prioritize the foods that are most perishable, and need to be cooked and/or eaten this week!
- Based on what you already have available, use your online Meal Planning form to create a rough version of your meals for the week ahead of time (start with at least your most significant meal of the day)
- Use the same form to create a list of the items needed for each meal. This will form your grocery list for the week, along with any staple items you usually like to stock.
- Shop for your groceries as you usually would – online or in person.
Create a “Just Eat This!” bin or section of your fridge for food that needs to be eaten up. (Queen of Green, davidsuzuki.org)
- Get a plastic bin or basket
- Label it: “Just Eat This!”
- Add produce and foods that need to eaten in the next couple days
- Find recipes that use these foods
Karina works as a public civil servant by day, and in her free time she is a passionate member of the local environmental community. She is a volunteer on the core team of Drawdown Toronto, and is the creator of the soon-to-be launched Wasteless App that aims to help busy people with a handy tool for meal planning.
To learn more details about the app and to explore becoming a beta tester, you can visit
When you have collected some experiences through this week’s challenge, it’ll be time to reflect. Feel free to share your some thoughts in the Community Feed below.
- How did planning your meals affect your time/finances/stress/nutrition this week?
- In what way did planning ahead impact the amount of avoidable food waste you accumulated?
- Tell us about how you and/or your household members experienced meal planning, based on this week’s task. How likely is it that you will continue to plan your meals before you shop?
Kids and families
Take 5 for the EARTH is an online resource designed by ecoCaledon to help inform, inspire and motivate families to take action on climate change.
A space for participants to share experiences, photos & questions about the Food Waste Challenge!
How to use the feed
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