The Regional Municipality Of York


Good Food

Get Cooking!


Plan. Prepare. Enjoy.

The Good Food program helps you plan, prepare and enjoy healthy family meals more, while wasting less. With the help of our simple tips and tools saving time, money and food waste can become a reality, one meal at a time.

Spend Less, Waste Less and Eat Healthier this Fall

With the fall season comes family feasts; whether it’s Rosh Hashanah, Thanksgiving, Diwali, Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, it’s a time of gathering with family and friends.

With these occasions we tend to make a lot of food because we want to have more than enough. However, we often don’t have a plan for what’s leftover.

Planning for leftovers is an easy way to make sure good food doesn’t get tossed or wasted. This could include portion planning so there’s less leftover, having a recipe planned to use those leftovers the next day or even providing take-away containers so guests can take food home with them.

One shocking fact is on average, households throw away almost $1,500 worth of food each year. That’s $125 per month! Many of us overspend during the holiday season, so keeping an eye on what you’re buying and throwing away could be another way to spend less.

Here are some simple ways to reduce food waste this fall:

  1. Plan ahead. Avoid shopping impulsively (usually unhealthy choices made in the moment). Plan, shop with a list and stick to it. No more “bought and forgot” items.
  2. Seconds first. Use up what you have first; leftovers, cut veggies or opened jars can become ingredients for a new meal.
  3. Shop online. It’s an easy way to keep track of your total as well as reduce the urge to toss impulse purchases into your cart. Saves time and money.
  4. Take stock. Save yourself the frustration of buying things you already have.  Quickly check your refrigerator and pantry before you go shopping.
  5. Pick local. Fresh, local foods last longer since they didn’t travel so far to get to you.
  6. Avoid bulk. Don’t buy perishables in bulk. Buying in bulk is only cost effective if you actually use it.
  7. Store properly. Know where your fresh produce should be stored. Quick refrigerator tip: set your vegetable crisper to high humidity and your fruit crisper to low.
  8. Prepare ahead. Free up some time by choosing recipes you can make ahead and freeze. Leaves more time for you.
  9. Self-serve. Waste less by letting others serve themselves.  Portioning out more than they can eat is food wasted and less food for those who want more.
  10. Freeze leftovers. Bread, soups, stews, casseroles and chili all freeze well.
  11. So simple. Use quick and easy recipes. Meals don’t need to be complicated.
  12. Cook it together. Planning and preparing meals with your family by your side can leads to new memories, bonding moments and better overall health.

The benefits of planning and preparing more meals can go far beyond wasting less food – it includes feeling more organized and less stressed about what to eat; eating healthier and feeling better about what you’re putting on the table; planning and preparing home-cooked meals together, sharing your day and spending quality time together. Wasting less food and saving more money is an added bonus we all can appreciate, but the real benefits are truly for you.  

Share your own tips for holiday planning on social media using #PlanPrepareEnjoy

Loving Leftovers — A great way to save time and money

Love your leftovers

Leftovers get a bad rap, but they are such an easy way to save time and continue eating healthy foods. When you take the time to plan and prepare a nutritious dinner, why waste what’s left?

Tips for Managing Leftovers

  • When plating your food, portion out smaller amounts and go back for seconds. Uneaten food on your plate goes in the green bin, but uneaten food still in the pot or casserole dish can be saved for another day
  • When meal planning, try to plan back-to-back meals that incorporate ingredients or leftovers from the previous meal; leftover pasta with sauce that’s a main dish one day can become a side dish the next
  • Pack leftovers for lunch
  • Refer to these Food Safety tips on how to cool and store your leftovers safely
  • Label your leftover containers with the date and try to eat them within two to three days
  • If you don’t want leftovers, pay attention to the quantity of food you’re preparing so you make just enough rather than too much
  • Good food doesn’t have to look good. Remember that a good healthy meal can be a mix of all sorts of leftovers (as long as they were made from healthy ingredients)

How To Cook With Leftovers

With some creativity you can turn your leftovers into a new dish. Here are a few sites that offer delicious recipes for leftovers, but don’t stop there - many more can be found online – offers many recipes to use up your leftovers – search recipes by leftover ingredients

Cooking for one or two: creative use of leftovers – a resource from Dietitians of Canada


York Region waste audits show that roughly 10% of the food thrown away in the green bin is uneaten leftovers. Better portioning and having a plan for leftovers can help reduce this waste.   

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Planning makes great meals easier

Go Easy — Start with a simple plan that works for you

Woman using an iPad to meal plan with her familyDo you often find yourself scrambling to make a meal at the last minute, scouring the cupboards and fridge for ideas while your kids are wondering, “What’s for dinner?”

You’re not alone. 

But that kind of haste usually produces less-than-nutritious meals and a lot of stress.

The answer is a plan. Making a weekly meal plan can help make cooking and enjoying meals with your family easier. 

It doesn’t have to be complicated. Start small. Keep it simple. Do what works for you and your family. It doesn’t have to be fancy. You don’t have to plan every meal for every day.

Get in the habit. The more you plan your meals, the easier it becomes.

Two useful links:

  1. Follow Canada’s Food GuideEnjoy a variety of foods from the four food groups, focusing on meals that contain vegetables and fruit, whole grains, milk or soy beverages, and lean meats, poultry, fish, nuts, and beans.
  2. Take stock. A well-stocked pantry, fridge and freezer make cooking wholesome meals easier. Check out this resource from Dietitians of Canada on healthy foods to keep on hand at home.

Helpful Tools — Great meal planning templates and apps are a click away

There are lots of tools and apps for those who want to start meal planning. Here are four options to help get you started. Thumbnail image of mealplan template

Easy Meal Planning Tips

  • Set realistic goals, one meal at a time
  • Make it a routine; set aside a small amount of time each week
  • Plan meals that use similar ingredients so you can use up everything you buy
  • Make good choices by using healthy foods and ingredients
  • Meal planning is an opportunity to try new recipes; pick simple ones with healthy ingredients
  • Plan to use up your most perishable items early in the week
  • Plan for leftovers; have at least one leftover meal per week
  • Get your family involved; let kids help plan their favourite dishes
  • Add some fun; try theme nights like Taco Tuesdays, Fajita Fridays, or Spaghetti Sundays

For more advice and tips visit:

List for Success — A simple list makes shopping faster and smarter

Meal planning and shopping lists go hand in hand. Without a list, it’s easy to return home from the store and realize you forgot a key ingredient. With a list, you’ll have just what you need.

A shopping list will save you time in the store. It will also save you money. By sticking to a list you’ll spend less on impulse purchases, which are often less healthy.

Some smart tips:

  • Over the shoulder of woman with shopping list in produce aislePost a list in the kitchen so everyone can update it as items are used and needed
  • Include quantities or measurements from recipes so you only buy what you need
  • Shop in your cupboard or refrigerator first; you might already have items on the list
  • Try this handy shopping list template to help you get started
  • Use the two hour rule – refrigerate or freeze perishable food within two hours of purchasing

For every six bags of groceries we buy, on average, one bag gets thrown away untouched. Meal planning can help reduce this waste. 


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Proper storage means less waste

Keepers — Proper food storage will save you wasted money

Do you feel frustrated when vegetables wilt in the fridge? Or wasteful when you have to throw out an almost-full tub of cottage cheese or yogurt? Proper storage and knowing about best before dates will help stop spoilage and wastefulness.

Food Storage Resources and Tips

  • Bowl of vegetablesKeep packages of raw meat, poultry and fish on the bottom shelf of your fridge where it’s coldest. Place on a plate or tray to keep juices from dripping onto other foods.
  • Prevent food from spoiling by keeping your refrigerator set at 4oC (40oF) or colder.
  • Not sure where to set the humidity dial on your crisper drawers? Vegetables fare better in high humidity, while fruits prefer low humidity.
  • Label and date containers so you know when they were first opened. The same goes for leftovers, so you’ll remember when they were made.
  • When restocking your pantry and refrigerator, move older items to the front so they get eaten first.
  • Some food lasts longer on the counter, not in the refrigerator, such as avocados, peaches, bananas, and tomatoes. For tips on other vegetables, check out our guides below.

Some valuable guides:

Quick Video Resources:

Best Before — Best before dates are not what most people think

Most people think best before dates are when our food will turn bad. Not true.

Best before dates on food packaging are about freshness, taste and nutritional value. 

Before the date, your food will taste its best and will still hold the nutrient content claimed on the label.

Best before dates only apply to unopened foods. Once opened, perishable foods that can spoil easily, such as milk, cheese, and other dairy products should be eaten soon and preferably before their best before date. Keep in mind, when perishable foods are not kept at their proper temperature, the best before date is no longer accurate.

Unopened, non-perishable foods, like crackers, canned goods and cereal can be eaten up to one year after their best before date.

Conclusion: you can eat most foods after the best before date has passed. They just won’t be at their best.

Some additional resources on best before dates:

York Region studies show that on average over 10 percent of the food thrown away in the green bin is food that’s been “bought and forgot,” or reached its best before date. Understanding how to store food properly and what best before dates mean can help reduce this waste and save you money.    


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Big Benefits

Big Benefits — Here’s how good food makes a big difference

When you make good food your priority, you accomplish so much: more family time together around the table, better health for growing kids and hardworking adults, less waste and more savings through better meal planning.

Better Health: It starts at home

When you plan, shop for, and prepare meals made from nutritious ingredients, you reduce the number of quick-serve meals, frozen dinners and take-out your family consumes.

You’ll also ensure your family is getting more of the good stuff (vitamins, minerals, fibre, protein and healthy fats) and less of the bad stuff (fried foods, added sugar and salt).

Family Time: Good food brings families together

More family time at meals can happen in any household. It just takes a little more planning, having the ingredients you need on hand and taking advantage of your leftovers.

The other secret: include your kids in meal planning and preparation. It helps them learn and makes them feel part of the process. 

Money Savings: Plan to reduce your grocery bill

When we’re busy, we tend to buy more on impulse. Quick-serve and frozen meals are designed for that very impulse, but they cost more and are less healthy.

The solution: a shopping list based on a meal plan for each week.

You’ll be amazed at the savings you can achieve, and the good food you can prepare (faster than you might think). 

Less Waste: Spoiled food can cost you a bundle

The cost might shock you: approximately $1,500 per household per year!

The solution: basic meal planning and proper food storage.

The Regional Municipality of York en-US

Do you love Pinterest? Do you love Good Food? 

Well, we have a reason to love them both just a little bit more. Visit the York Region Pinterest page for some great tips, tricks and Good Food printables that can help you gain more family time together around the table, better health for growing kids and hardworking adults, and more savings through better meal planning and food storage.

Contact Us

To learn more about Good Food, please contact us at or call 1-866-665-6752.

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