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My Best Tips for a Well-Organized Back-to-School Season

8 August 2023 | By Stéphanie Tremblay
Food fightRecipesReductionTips and tricks

Whether you’re heading back to work or back to school, meal planning is an essential part of a routine that makes meal management easier, while also limiting food waste.
Planning the week’s menu can go much further than writing out a grocery list. Of course, it all starts with your mood: what recipe do you want to eat and cook this week? Based on a few menu ideas, you can create a grocery list (while checking what’s already in the pantry and freezer). You also have to ask yourself whether you want to cook more of Monday’s supper to have lunches for Tuesday, while avoiding getting stuck with shepherd’s pie every day until Friday… Finding the balance may seem easier said than done, but this article can provide you with many tips on how to get there!


The key is optimization

Something that works for a lot of people is to start by planning 2 or 3 days of meals for the week, then make do with whatever’s left over for the rest of the week. In this way, you optimize your groceries and give yourself some flexibility for the unexpected (when you finally decide to go out to lunch with your colleagues on Tuesday, or your mother-in-law turns up with her famous stew on Thursday evening). Buying smaller quantities also allows you to have better control over the perishable foods you’ve bought, and to use them to the maximum before heading back to the supermarket. In your planning, of course, don’t forget lunches and snacks/desserts, which are well worth buying for a full week.


A good tip is to plan your menu so that the recipes complement each other. For example, if you buy butternut squash to eat with your Monday dinner, you might as well start thinking right away about how to use the portion of squash that won’t be cooked for that meal! Try imagining adding it to a soup, casserole or stir-fry that will come along during the week.
For example, leftover rice can easily be added to a soup, stir-fry, burrito or salad, or form the basis of another meal such as fried rice, depending on the amount left over. The morning smoothie can also serve as a perfect excuse to throw in leftover watermelon or cucumber, extra spinach or lettuce and just about any fruit you’ve started in the fridge.


The secret to creating leftovers recipes is to follow the following magic formula, which tells us very simply how to create a balanced dish: ¼ protein, ¼ starch and ½ vegetables.
The key to orchestrating a waste-free week lies in the ability to create delicious new meals from ordinary leftovers. Of course, freezing can save us a lot of trouble, especially when it comes to saving portions of Monday’s lasagna that could easily have fed the whole neighbourhood! But the most useful thing is to find the anti-waste recipes that make us drool and keep the basic ingredients on hand. Example: for a frittata, make sure you have eggs and cheese in the fridge. For leftovers pasta, keep store-bought (or even better—homemade!) pasta and sauce in the pantry. For these two meals, we add the week’s leftover vegetables and meats to create a simple, no-waste meal.
You also need to be realistic about the time you’ll have to invest in the kitchen. If the week is particularly busy, choose simpler recipes and think about making larger quantities of the same recipe to make the next day’s lunches at the same time!


To sum up, here are a few tips you can apply to make back-to-school easier and less wasteful!

• Plan a menu for 2-3 days of the week (lunches and dinners), with recipes that complement each other;
• Plan the week’s lunches and snacks;
• Make a grocery list, checking what’s left in the fridge, pantry and freezer;
• Make sure you have the basic ingredients for your weekly leftovers meal, adding them to the list as needed;
• Be realistic about the amount of time you have to invest in the kitchen and select your meals accordingly;
• Cook foods that are less fresh first;
• Freeze surplus in individual portions for lunches.

We wish you all a happy back-to-school! 🙂

Food Waste Expert

Stéphanie Tremblay

In love with nature, Stéphanie combines her interests in the environment and food in order to raise awareness of the importance of their food choices. Her professional training and experience in environmental education make her a knowledgeable speaker who conveys her passion with enthusiasm and positivism. In her spare time, she can be found in her garden or in the forest, gathering wild edible plants.

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