Tips for Reducing Food Waste
We are right in the midst of the holiday season and in all of the excitement, one thing I am trying to be more mindful of is food waste. This time of year, we tend to over indulge not just with food but buying gifts and decorations. We throw away a lot food during the holidays which goes to the landfill and breaks down into nasty methane, a greenhouse gas that is harmful for the environment. I decided to create a list of tips for reducing food waste not during these busy winter months alone but throughout the year. Let’s be environmentally conscious year round. 🙂
Firstly, check out this interesting Youtube video! Food Waste: A Story of Excess
Now as far as things you can do at home to minimize waste:
Get organized in the kitchen. Before leaving for the grocery store, check to see what you already have and make a list. Prepare a list of ingredients needed for an entire week’s worth of meals and buy just that. Only buy what you need. Grocery shopping without a plan can lead to unnecessary purchases. This way, you’ll reduce waste and save some money! My family has been using the weekly meal plans and grocery lists that coordinate with The Zero Waste Vegan Cookbook. The cookbook includes a month’s worth of healthy, low waste, and plant based meals. We have saved so much time and money by simply planning our meals around the cookbook recipes.
Store Produce Properly
To extend pantry life, figure out the best way to store your fruits and veggies. Produce will last longer if stored properly. For example, we like to store our asparagus in a glass with about an inch of water. I’ve also ready that you shouldn’t store your potatoes and onions near each other. Apparently, they release gases and moisture that can cause the produce to break down and spoil more quickly. Who knew? Here’s a Produce Storage Guide from Real Simple to help you get started.
Eat Ugly Fruits & Veggies
It’s become a “thing” in the U.S. to only eat the pretty fruits and veggies so be the change! If your apple has a bad spot, cut it off and eat it anyway. Intentionally choose the funky shaped veggies at the grocery store. If you’re hung up on eating weird looking produce, toss it in a juicer. You can make perfectly beautiful juices with ugly fruits and veggies. There are some new companies popping up in a few larger cities in the U.S. that deliver ugly produce to your door! Have you heard of the company Imperfect Produce? This program isn’t offered in my town at the moment but maybe Imperfect Produce services your area. Definitely check it out!
If you’re not a big fan on eating leftovers all week long, make a big batch of any meal and put half in the freezer. Split them into individual size meals and then you will have a variety of meals to choose from throughout the week. Also, if you worry your fruits and veggies are starting to lose their freshness, you can freeze them as well! I love to chop of fruits, put them in the freezer, and later use them for delicious smoothies. You can even put a loaf of bread in the freezer to save for later use. We usually store our frozen produce in reusable plastic Tupperwares in our fridge. However, if you are striving for a plastic free kitchen, I learned that you can actually freeze food without plastic from The Zero Waste Chef. She uses glass jars to store her frozen food.
Donate or Compost
Ok, so if it’s just not edible, try donating your scraps to a local farm. Many farmers accept food scraps to feed their pigs. I compost my unused food scraps in my backyard compost bin which will eventually become nutrient rich soil for me to use in the garden. Are you new to composting? Take a peak at my composting 101 blog post to get started! Composting is absolutely fascinating. You’ll be so surprised to learn what things can be composted. There are typical items you can compost like veggie and fruit scraps but also you can compost hair in your home compost bin. So crazy, right?!
Dine Out Consciously
Meal portions in restaurants tend to be pretty large. If you know you won’t be able to eat a full meal, split it with a friend or be sure to take home leftovers. Even if you don’t like leftovers, you could give it to the dog! I honestly love leftovers. I think it’s mostly, because I like not having to cook lunch the day after eating out. Two meals for the price of one, woo! Oh, also, don’t forget to bring your stainless steel container or a mason jar to avoid those pesky styrofoam to go boxes.
Regrow from Kitchen Scraps
One of my personal favorite tips: regrowing plants from scraps! Did you know you can grow more veggies and fruits from the scraps you already have? That’s right. There are some veggies like celery, green onions, and sweet potatoes that you can regrow. If you haven’t tried regrowing plants, check out these other two blogs posts for more info! Regrow Plants from Kitchen Scraps & Part Deux.
What are your best tips for reducing food waste in your home?? Please feel free to share your ideas in the comment section!
Author’s Note: This blog post was originally posted in December 2015 (hence the references to the holidays), but I’ve updated some information and want to share it with my newest Tiny Yellow Bungalow followers. Enjoy y’all!