Did you know that: *40% of food goes to waste *16% of us lack enough food for a healthy lifestyle *99% of us don’t need a second helping of fettuccine alfredo *70% of us are overweight *25% of us don’t know a single neighbor’s name… It’s a shame how much edible d food ends up in the trash. Sometimes it seems like we throw out more food than we eat. While many don’t even have enough to eat. Truth be told, the average household does waste a lot of food. Take a look at your own household. Are you wasting more food than you really should? Wouldn’t you like to reduce the amount of food that ends up in the trash? Plus, with spiraling food costs we literally throwing good money down the drain! Here are some simple ideas that I have actually tried to cut down on food waste
26 Ways to Reduce Food Waste
1. Plan Meals and Make a Shopping List
Each week, plan out your meals and shop accordingly. That doesn’t mean you have to pass up spontaneous bargains that you find (you can always freeze those), but it does mean that you have a general plan of what you are going to be eating that week and the required ingredients. This helps reduce waste because you are not buying impulsively or filling your fridge and pantry with food items you may never use. Consider shopping less, but more often, for fresh basics like many Europeans often do.
2. Serve Smaller Portions
It’s interesting to note that studies have shown that the size of the plate makes a difference in how much we eat. Smaller plates mean smaller portions, and while going back for seconds is not taboo, it still holds true that smaller plates result in less food being consumed at a meal. So break out the “salad plates” and other smaller dishes, and cook and serve up smaller portions.
3. Cook More & Freeze Extra
Yes, this is the opposite of smaller portions, but increasing the amount of food you cook in one session in the kitchen can actually help reduce waste. If you double a recipe, for example, you’ll spend the same amount of time and energy in the kitchen as you would for the regular recipe, but you’ll have twice the food. You can then freeze the other half and have a future meal ready in less time (thus wasting less energy on oven use).
4. Repurpose Fruit Salad
5. Reuse Leftovers Creatively
There are so many great uses for leftovers–so get creative! All it takes is a little planning and foresight, a well-stocked pantry with spices and staples, plus a few good recipes–or you can simply improvise.
6. Enhance Recipes with Juicer Pulp
Pulp from juiced vegetables can be added to soups, stews, veggie burgers, loafs, dips, and smoothies.
7. Have Mashed, Make Cakes
Refrigerated mashed potatoes can be used in breads, to make potato pancakes, or to top a vegetarian- style Shepherd’s Pie.
8. Make Vegetable Stock
Aging celery, carrots, garlic and/or onions (and even apples) can be used to make vegetable stock.
9. Stew Some Fruit
Whenever apples or pears are going bad, I never toss them. I peel them, cut them up, put them in a pot with a small amount of water and some spices and simply stew them. These stewed fruits make great toppings for oatmeal or work well as side dishes.
10. Create Fruit Butters & Sauces
Sweet, delicious fruit butters and sauces such as apple butter and apple sauce are great ways to salvage fruit that is getting old.
11. No Good Beans Should Go Unused
Leftover beans can be made into bean dips, bean spreads, hummus, soups, chilis and added to stews. They add texture and protein when they are tossed into salads.
12. Turn Bread into Bread Crumbs & More
Make bread crumbs or croutons from stale bread and freeze them. I still have fond memories of my mother making a delicious bread pudding and “apple betty” dessert from stale breadcrumbs when I was growing up.
13. Bring New Life to Leftover Rice
Leftover rice can be added to soups, stews or stir-fries. Use it to make sushi rolls with other leftover vegetables, pickles and proteins. Rice can be combined with cornmeal and made into a delicious cornbread. It can also be used to make a wonderful stuffing for peppers.
14. Give Citrus Peels New Appeal
Dont’ let those citrus peels become spoiled, moldy and rotten! Citrus peels can be simmered in sugar syrup and candied or grated to add zest. The peels can alse be used to make DIY cleaning and beauty aids.
15. Toss Leftover Veggies into Dishes
Leftover steamed vegetables can be mixed with rice or noodles, topped with cheese, and baked as a casserole or used for veggie pizza toppings. Raw and lightly cooked vegetables can be tossed with greens for a delcious, creative salad.
16. Don’t Toss Those Apples, Make Vinegar
Vinegar has been a favorite kitchen staple and trusted home remedy for centuries. Turn your apples, grapes, peaches, berries, cereals and grains into flavorful and healing natural vinegars. Natural, homemade vinegars like this recipe from learningandyearning are great for your health and also make wonderful gifts.
17. Create Juice Combos & Smoothies
Of course, you can easily toss your produce in the blender and make a juice or smoothie before it wilts or spoils.
18. Make Sauerkraut
Turn leftover cabbage into sauerkraut which will last quite a while. Plus fermented and pickled foods are good for your digestive tract.
19. Spice Things Up with Kimchi
Leftover onions, carrots, cabbage, peppers, celery and more can be fermented with spices into spicy jars of kimchi that will last quite a while.
20. Just Pickle It
21. Chop Your Way to Chutneys & Relishes
Making vegetable or fruit chutneys and relishes are great ways to keep from wasting foods. They last quite a while and make popular gifts.
22. Store Leftovers Properly
Invest in a good set of glass storage containers with tight-fitting lids. These will preserve your food better than haphazard containers covered with plastic wrap. Be sure to label all containers with the content and date. By storing your food properly in the fridge with reusable produce bags and glass, you can seriously extend the life of your food.
23. Be Neighborly & Share
A no-brainer, but in our “I’ve-never-met-my-neighbors” world it can be hard to remember. If you have too much food, you are in the very lucky minority in today’s world, and you shouldn’t let it go to waste. Instead, bring some to a friend, throw a dinner party, or bring it to your office for your coworkers —before it spoils. People will happily take plump strawberries off your hands; your wilted mustard greens, probably not.
24. Compost Scraps
While you are still discarding the leftover food when you compost, you are recycling it into a useful substance that can be used to grow more food (or anything else you like) in the garden. Only compost food that has no other use and can’t be recycled in the kitchen anymore.
25. Find Local Places That Will Use Your Waste
Lots of farmers markets have food-scrap collections that take your waste and turn it into compost and fertilizer. Many citiy have food reuse programs, for example, if you live in Baltimore, MD, you can contact Compost Cab.
26. LeftoverSwap: Find and Share Food App
Now you can swap your leftovers by using an app on your iPhone or iPad. LeftoverSwap is a new food sharing application available on Itunes. For Food Givers: Use the App by taking a picture of the food you want to give away or trade, whether it’s pizza, veggie burger, extra fries, a box of mac and cheese, extra tomatoes from your garden, or a homemade pie. For Food Eaters: Simply check out the map on the app to browse what’s available, and if something whets your appetite, shoot a message and go grab it. For more information contact: email@example.com Compatibility: Requires iOS 5.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
Waste Not, Want Not
In the final analysis, reducing food waste really boils down to the ecofriendly basics: reduce, reuse, recycle, repurpose and share–and keep as much food out of the trash as possible. But proper planning is key to avoid over-shopping in the first place! And that’s definitely better for your wallet as well as the environment.
Are you interested in ‘eco-eating’?
Are you interested in ‘eco-eating’? NBC’s Green is Universal is hosting an “Eco Eats” sweepstakes from September 29 – October 17. To join, visit their free green-living tool, One Small Act, and join the “Eco Eats” challenge. Everyone who signs-up and tackles at least one action by October 17th will be entered to win one of five 6-month subscriptions to NatureBox. No Purchase Necessary. Must be US resident and 18+. Read official rules here.
Disclaimer: In exchange for participating in the challenge and writing this post, I was given a gift package from Green is Universal. All opinions here are still my own.
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Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.
What tips do you have for reducing food waste in your house?
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