Food for Thought: 26 Eco Smart Ways to Reduce Home Food Waste

by deborah on November 6, 2013 · 32 comments

in Apps, Living Green, Recycling

Food for Thought: 26 Eco Smart Ways to Reduce Home Food Waste

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

Our Motto: Don’t let good food go to waste! Food for Thought: 26 Eco Smart Ways to Reduce Home 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

Food for Thought: 26 Eco Smart Ways to Reduce Home Food Waste 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

Food for Thought: 26 Eco Smart Ways to Reduce Home Food Waste Leftover fruit salad, canned or fresh, can be pureed and drunk as a fruit smoothie or frozen into popsicles.

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

Food for Thought: 26 Eco Smart Ways to Reduce Home Food Waste

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

19. No Good Beans Should Go Unused  Leftover beans can be made into bean dips, bean spreads, hummus, soups, chilis and added to stews.  They can be tossed into salads as well. 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

Food for Thought: 26 Eco Smart Ways to Reduce Home Food Waste

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

Food for Thought: 26 Eco Smart Ways to Reduce Home Food Waste 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

Food for Thought: 26 Eco Smart Ways to Reduce Home Food Waste You can pickle all kinds of leftover vegetables including red onions, beets, lemons, carrots, cucumbers.

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

Food for Thought: 26 Eco Smart Ways to Reduce Home Food Waste

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

Food for Thought: 26 Eco Smart Ways to Reduce Home Food Waste

Use the “LeftoverSwap” app to find and share food.
Photo source: “LeftoverFoodSwap” app screen shot

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: 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.

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “UrbanNaturale” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

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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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa Bertolini November 6, 2013 at 7:28 pm

Great ideas. I hadn’t thought about making vegetable stock with the extras. When I have leftover carrots and rice, I give it to the dog. I would imagine I could make stock out of the parts of the vegetables I cut off for my recipes, right? Like the ends of carrots and green onions?


deborah November 7, 2013 at 12:39 am

Hi Lisa,
It believe that it is perfectly fine to use the ends of vegetables when they are organic or when they have been scrubbed well and soaked in a natural, homemade veggie cleaning solution since there is sometimes a bit of dirt on the ends. The ends are a source for excellent nutrients and they add to the flavor as well. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us. I really appreciate it.


April @ The 21st Century Housewife November 8, 2013 at 6:29 pm

This is an excellent post with some really great tips! Trying to avoid food waste is one of my passions so I thoroughly enjoyed reading your take on this subject, Deborah. Thank you for sharing with us at the Hearth and Soul Hop.


deborah November 8, 2013 at 11:18 pm

I enjoy participating in Hearth and Soul Hop. As I was writing this post, more and more ways to reduce waste kept coming to mind. It is helping me to do a better job in my mission to “reduce, reuse, recyle”. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. I appreciate it.


Becky November 11, 2013 at 10:40 am

We have been so much better about not wasting since we started meal planning and making big batches to freeze. These are great tips! Thanks for sharing on Tuesday Greens!!


deborah November 11, 2013 at 11:21 am

Hi Becky,
I am so glad you found these tips helpful. I enjoyed participating in Tuesday Greens! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate it.


Danielle@ Poor and Gluten Free November 11, 2013 at 5:43 pm

There are so many great tips here! I noticed that you mentioned that 25% of us don’t know a neighbour’s name, and I think that says a lot, too. A friend and I were talking recently about how if you have lots of people around you (friends and family) you tend to throw food out less often, because you have people to give extras to 😉

Thanks so much for sharing this on Waste Not Want Not Wednesday, Deborah, I’ve pinned it.


deborah November 11, 2013 at 6:33 pm

Hi Danielle,
I am so happy to hear that you can relate to the points in this post. It is very disturbing, but thanks to Waste Not Want Not Wednesday for helping to call attention to viable solutions. See you there soon.


Dee November 13, 2013 at 7:50 am

I enjoyed your post. I am pretty good at not wasting food. I shop more often and don’t over buy.


Garcinia Cambogia extract success stories January 14, 2014 at 7:04 pm

Have you ever considered writing an ebook or guest authoring on other sites?

I have a blog based upon on the same ideas you discuss
and would love to have you share some stories/information.
I know my audience would enjoy your work. If you’re even remotely
interested, feel free to send me an e mail.


deborah January 14, 2014 at 8:30 pm

Thanks for connecting with me. I am happy to hear that we share a lot of interests and topics in common. Let’s stay in touch.


Clarita January 16, 2014 at 3:43 pm

I have been browsing online more than three hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours.
It is pretty worth enough for me. In my view, if all website owners and bloggers made good cointent as you did, the internet will be a
lot more useful than ever before.


deborah January 16, 2014 at 7:14 pm

Hi Clarita,
I am so happy to hear that you found this article about eco friendly ways to reduce home waste helpful. This topic is pretty important to me and to our environment. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me. I truly appreciate it.


Small Footprints March 26, 2014 at 11:57 am

This is such a great list. In fact, I suggest that everyone bookmark it for easy reference later. I love your ideas. We use our dehydrator a lot … veggies get turned into powdered bouillon and fruits are fabulous treats in the winter. We also dehydrate our citrus peels and then grind them up for use later. They made everything from cakes to pancakes better and they are great on steamed veggies.


CelloMom May 17, 2014 at 8:43 am

GREAT tips!
My own newest ploy: I don’t buy too much at a time. Going to the store more often gives us fresher vegetables anyway. And a half-empty fridge means you can see everything; nothing gets lost in the back.


Becca @ The Earthlings Handbook June 28, 2014 at 11:38 pm

This is a really thorough list! I do most of these things, but I have never had a juicer and did not know the leftover pulp was good for anything but compost.

I have a couple more recipes, for leftover bread and cheese
And for leftover rice


deborah June 29, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Hi Becca,
I am so delighted that you connected with me at Urban Naturale. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and relevant posts. I really enjoy reading your blog. Stay in touch. All the best, Deborah


Melissa French, The More With Less Mom July 1, 2014 at 12:58 am

I need more alfredo! And we always eat all of our leftovers. Thanks for sharing. Hello from the Healthy Happy Green and Natural Party Hop!


Rachel Steward January 5, 2015 at 10:11 am

Thank you for sharing! You gave me a lot of new ideas! I try to not overbuy products- it’s better to shop often, instead of throwing away food!


deborah January 8, 2015 at 2:50 pm

Hi Rachel,
Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me. I appreciate it.


Heaven April 27, 2015 at 12:19 pm

What a great list! Pinned!


Elizabeth Gilbert May 4, 2015 at 5:53 am

Love these advices! As we see there are millions of options which give us the ability to reduce our food waste. It is our responsibility to do that. What I do is to buy small amount of veggies and fruits. When I am running out of apples I just go to the grocery’s. I make a little walk and take fresh products. So, find your way of reducing food waste and just keep to that idea!


Crista May 15, 2015 at 7:16 am

Plastic bag pollution is very deadly and takes hundreds of years to break down. Even if the component is broken done, the deadly chemicals will go into the ground and water system. By reducing the usage of plastic bag, Earth can recuperate. That’s why cotton bags should be used world wide to help reduce the pollution.


Celeste | The Whole Serving February 9, 2016 at 11:16 am

This is a great list, I do a lot of them but I need to remember the food I place in the freezer. Now that I’m working from home everyday I am actually throwing out much less food.


deborah February 9, 2016 at 11:48 am

Thank you, Celeste! I know what you mean. It is amazing how much food we can waste unless we make an effort to reduce waste.


Katie Morse March 10, 2016 at 5:47 am

These are so good ideas! My mother recently started reducing her food waste and I’m sure she’ll be very glad to have your ideas on mind. I’m definitely recommending this post to her and to some friends too. Thank you for sharing!


Angela Roberts June 28, 2016 at 7:58 pm

Great ways to reduce food waste, I will certainly share this post to spread the word!


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