Americans throw away half the food they purchase while 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!
1. Purposeful Planning
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/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 intent of cutting it into easy-to-grab servings, then maybe you should pass it up. 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, pre-cut fruit, or make use of frozen vegetables and fruits that will keep longer.
2. Reduce Product Packaging
Help reduce the amount of product packaging you eventually throw away by purchasing some foods from the 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 how much you need of each item, you’ll be less likely to waste food and you’ll be saving money! Buying items from the bulk bins means you can make use of those stylish Mason jars or apothecary jars to create the Pinterest-worthy pantry you’ve been dreaming about.
3. Choose Reusable Containers
Rather than storing snacks or lunch box foods in disposable bags, choose reusable containers to minimize waste. There are so many stylish lunch box accessories out there now for any need–how perfect are these? 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!
4. Crockpot Creations
Did you know cooking in the crockpot for 8 hours uses less energy than cooking in the oven for 1 hour? It can also mean fewer dishes for you! Crockpot meals make for smart cooking, whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
5. 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 homemade vegetable broth, which can then be used in other soups. Collect vegetable scraps in a storage container and keep in the freezer until you have enough to make broth (try this recipe from Oh My Veggies!). Broccoli stems can be used to create a new tasty dish–Spicy Stir-Fried Broccoli Stems, anyone? Use stale bread to make croutons or breadcrumbs and grate citrus peel and freeze for later use. to Want to use those banana peels rather than tossin’ em? Check this out!
Of course, there are so many other ways you can reduce waste in the kitchen and other areas of your home, but hopefully these will be some easy starting points for you and your family! What clever ways do you help reduce waste in the kitchen?