When I was in culinary school, one class focused on knife skills. As we were practicing cutting and replicating the perfect julienne, we were challenged to generate the least amount of food waste. My culinary classmates and I were challenged to use up what was waste and turn it into something entirely new. It was interesting to see what new and creative recipes we created from using scraps and leftovers.
Utilize these 6 strategies to cut down on food waste.
Look at your week and plan really how much food you will need that week. Going out to dinner with friends this week or have a lunch meeting at work? Take those weekly events into consideration. Food waste tends to happen when one blindly grocery shops for the week. Plan meals, use a grocery list, and avoid impulse buys. This way you are less likely to buy things you don’t need and you’re unlikely to actually consume. Your wallet will be happy too!
Designate one dinner each week as a “use-it-up” meal. Instead of cooking a brand new meal, utilize leftovers to create a new dish. Have some leftover veggies? Turn it into a frittata. Have leftover chicken? Turn it into chicken salad.
Store food correctly
Simply storing food correctly can make a huge impact on food waste. The life of produce can be greatly impacted on how it is stored. Here are a few produce items that are commonly stored improperly:
Tomatoes – Always store at room temperature, as the refrigerator will make them rot quickly. Keep loose in a bowl away from the sun or heat (like the stove.)
Apples– Apples are ethylene gas producers so store away from other produce. They can be stored on the counter for up to a week or in the fridge for more than a week.
Berries– Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries are delicate and should not be washed until ready to eat. Keep in the refrigerator in dry, covered containers.
Onions/garlic–Store garlic and onions in a cool, dark, and dry space but separate from other foods because of their strong odors.
Mushrooms –Keep unwashed mushrooms in the refrigerator. Moisture makes them slimy.
Root vegetables –Store carrots, beets, and radishes in the refrigerator. Store potatoes, sweet potatoes, and winter squashes in a cool, dark, and dry place like a pantry or cellar.
Do you also find yourself throwing away stale cereal, crackers, etc.? Secure bags securely with bag clips. The idea is to not let in air. Try even storing them in airtight containers.
Keep your fridge organized
Back to my culinary school days; “FIFO” was a term used all the time in the kitchens. It stands for First In, First Out and should be applied in your kitchen too. When unloading groceries, move older products to the front of the freezer/fridge and new items in the back. This way you are more likely to use up the older items before they expire or turn.
Along with FIFO, storing food in its proper place in the fridge is important too. Properly store food in the refrigerator based on the science of how refrigerators are built.
Keep track of what you throw away
Write down what you end up tossing out each week on a regular basis. Are your berries always turning before you eat all of them? Buy frozen berries. Notice you are always throwing out half a loaf of bread at the end of each week? Start freezing half the loaf right when you bring it home so it doesn’t go stale before you are able to eat it.
It’s too often that what we know as scraps just gets tossed in the trash. Start getting savvy with how you utilize the scraps.
Make a stock: Save ends of onions and celery and peels of carrots in a bag in the freezer. Once your bag is full, turn those scraps into a vegetable stock.
Turn broccoli stems into zoodles: It’s typically more cost effective to buy a whole head of broccoli. Instead of tossing the stem, spiralize to turn into broccoli noodles. Don’t have a spiralizer? Use a grater to create a broccoli slaw. Check out Luvo’s Guide to Veggie Noodles for more inspiration.
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