The mission to minimize food waste is one we all need to play a part in — in the U.S. alone, 150,000 tons of food is wasted every single day. That’s a lot. Even if you already compost your scraps, take leftovers for lunch, or both, there’s more that you can do. And the benefits of reducing food waste are plentiful: it’s good for your wallet, good for your family, and good for your planet. Read on to find out how to reduce food waste at home, and which sustainable shopping and cooking habits can be easily incorporated into your day-to-day.
It’s simple mathematics. If you bring home less food, there’s less of a chance you’ll waste it. With that in mind, here are a few things you can do to make sure you’re not over buying.
- Shop more often. Opt for frequent trips to the grocery store to pick up fewer ingredients, rather than doing weekly shops for large amounts.
- Be prepared. Take inventory before you leave the house and head to the store with a list of the specific items that you need.
- Don’t shop hungry. It may sound silly, but it’s true. If you’re feeling peckish when you shop, it’s far more likely that you’ll pick up food you don’t actually need — and might not finish.
- Check again before checking out. Is there something in your cart that you might not use? Perhaps a large tub of yogurt, or an extra head of lettuce? Reconsider what you actually need — wasted food is wasted money, after all.
Leftovers are a wonderful thing. By having that extra portion or two, you can save yourself buying lunch at the sandwich shop around the corner from your office or ordering takeout — and all the plastic containers that come with it. The trick with leftovers is to make sure they don’t get lost at the back of your fridge. Store food in glass containers so you can easily see what’s inside.
Beyond using them for your leftovers, you can also use glass containers for storing bulk items in the pantry. Use mason jars of all sizes for grains, beans, pastas, and flours, and labeled spice jars for all of your dried herbs. These containers will help keep your food fresher for longer, but they also allow you to see exactly what you have on hand so you don’t buy something that’s already hiding on a shelf in an unidentifiable package.
We’re willing to bet that a good portion of your compost bin is filled with carrot and potato skins. But we’ve got an alternative for you. Giving the exterior of your fruits and vegetables a good scrub, rather than cutting it off completely, does a couple of things. First, this part of the produce is packed with nutrients, vitamins, and minerals so it’s great for your health. And, of course, by keeping the food intact, you’re reducing waste.
When it comes to cooking with what’s typically considered food waste, you should look to your blender. With this staple appliance, you can take a random mix of otherwise-unappreciated ingredients and whip them into something delicious. Overripe pieces of fruit, unappealing knobs of ginger, an awkward amount of yogurt — scraps like these can be saved from the bin by being blended into a nutrient-dense smoothie.
Our Pro Blender has settings for a variety of inventions. You can even take your vegetable leftovers and blend them with some broth using the soup function, which also heats up your mixture as it combines. The next time you’re staring into a fridge full of forgotten foods, ask yourself, WWMBD: what would my blender do?
Composting food waste is a million times better than tossing it in the trash, but there’s still more you can do. Before demoting food bits to the compost heap, consider if they might be candidates for a homemade broth. Carrot tops, onion skins, wilted celery, and more can be collected, frozen, and then used to make your very own soup base (our stainless steel stockpot is perfect for this). Once your stock is ready, strain it into some mason jars and send those now well-used scraps to the compost.
Pro Tip: Keep your compost bin in the freezer! Especially in warmer months, this will reduce any unwanted aroma or fruit fly infestation.
These reasons are more than enough to inspire anyone to get creative in how they reduce their food waste. Consider using any or all of our suggestions and opt for buying, storing, and cooking your food mindfully in an effort to protect the environment.
For more tips on being eco-friendly in the kitchen, read our post on how to become a more sustainable cook.
Photos: Scott Warman / Unsplash, Rawpixel / Shutterstock, Sentelia / Shutterstock, Brandless