Americans throw away half the food they purchase. Worldwide, one-third of the food produced is thrown away. Food waste, whether it occurs in the home or elsewhere, is a significant issue we can’t ignore. There are so many little steps we can all take on a daily basis to reduce, reuse and recycle.
Here are five ways you can waste less in the kitchen!
Plan with Purpose
If you’re throwing away old, rotten produce on a weekly basis, it’s time to rethink your grocery purchases. While having fresh produce stocked in the kitchen is a great way to encourage healthy eating and snacking, it won’t do you any good if just ends up in the trash week after week.
Before you go to the grocery store, write a weekly meal plan and have a purpose in mind for each item you buy. How will you use that large bag of salad mix or bag of carrots? Watermelon may be on sale this week, but if you have no idea when you’ll cut it into easy-to-grab servings, then maybe you should pass.
I often have to remind myself of this when buying bananas — one can only make so much banana bread with overripe bananas! I now only purchase three or four bananas each week, and if they start to ripen beyond my liking, I slice them and freeze them for smoothies.
If the thought of chopping and dicing ingredients for cooking is what deters you from using the fresh produce you buy, then buy fruits and vegetables that are already prepped such as diced bell peppers and pre-cut fruit. Or, use frozen vegetables and fruits that will keep longer.
Reduce Product Packaging
Help reduce the amount of product packaging you purchase — and eventually throw away — by purchasing foods from bulk bins. I prefer to buy nuts, seeds, oatmeal and lentils in the bulk section, but you can also find coffee beans, snack mixes, dried fruits and other grains in this section of the grocery store. Since you’re able to dispense exactly how much you need of each item, you’ll be less likely to waste food. You’ll be saving money, too!
Plus, buying items from the bulk bins means you can finally use those stylish mason jars or apothecary jars you’ve seen on Pinterest!
Choose Reusable Containers
Rather than storing snacks or lunchbox foods in disposable bags, choose reusable containers to minimize waste. There are so many stylish lunch box accessories out there now for any need.
Keep leftovers in reusable containers with lids rather than covering dishes with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. You’ll be amazed at how long a roll of plastic wrap will last!
Experiment with Crockpot Creations
Did you know cooking in a slow cooker for 8 hours uses less energy than cooking in the oven for 1 hour? It can also mean fewer dishes for you to clean after a meal. Crockpot meals make for smart cooking, whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Save the Scraps
This one may require some extra effort, but it certainly can be worth it. One of the easiest ways to use vegetable scraps is to make vegetable broth, which can then be used in homemade soups. Collect vegetable scraps in a storage container and keep in the freezer until you have enough to make broth.
That’s not all you can do with scraps. Broccoli stems can be used to create a new tasty dish; stale bread can be used to make croutons or breadcrumbs; peels of citrus fruits can be grated and frozen for later use.
This is just the beginning! There are so many other ways you can reduce waste in the kitchen and other areas of your home.