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Of course it’s a shame to waste food, but it’s unavoidable at times. Maybe you’re too tired to cook after work, or you hate to cook, or you’re cooking for one, here are some tips from to help find a way to reduce that waste, and maybe even help to treat yourself to the occasional night out to dinner:

1) Never shop hungry. This is time-honored advice for dieters (people tend to head straight for the high-calorie goodies when they’re famished), but it also helps cut down on waste, since you won’t be tempted to buy food you don’t really need. If you have to, buy a snack at the supermarket to eat before you start shopping.

2) Buy produce more frequently. Sometimes even I purchase a bit too over-zealously at my Sunday farmers market, leaving me with a vegetable bin filled with shriveled zucchini and sprouted onions by week’s end. Since produce is the type of food that’s most likely to be wasted, try to shop for your fruits and veggies more frequently than once a week to cut down on spoilage.

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3) Don’t go overboard with variety. Just because you should eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day doesn’t mean you have to eat five different types of fruits and vegetables every day. A rainbow of produce will look pretty in your fridge, but few cooks are creative enough to put all of it to good use before it spoils. Buy the apples and spinach you know you’ll eat, not the chayote and tatsoi you’ll experiment with when you have the time. (And if you do want to try an unfamiliar veggie, start by buying a small amount.)

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4 ways to stop buying things you don’t need