Did you know that an estimated 30-40% of the US food supply will go to waste? Sadly, it’s true. This waste can occur at any stage of production between the farm gate and the retail shelf. But a great deal of waste happens at the hand of the consumer.
Individually, there are some things that we can do to cut down on waste AND save money, including…
- Shop realistically and buy what you know you’ll eat (ie. stick to your list!).
- Cook in reasonable portions for your needs (don’t worry — we’re all guilty of making WAY too much pasta, but we can work on it!).
- Those leftovers in your fridge? Eat them!
- Avoid a cluttered fridge and pantry.
- Within reason, treat sell-by/expiration dates as guidelines, not rules.
- Freeze food you know you won’t be able to eat in time.
Outside of these tips, there are some other things you can do in the kitchen to reduce the amount of scraps that you’re throwing into the compost or garbage. We’ve come up with a list to give you some inspiration!
You’ll notice that some of these include using the skins of produce or other parts that you may avoid due to pesticides. Try to get organic when possible, and/or always give your produce a good washing!
- Save carrot peels, potato skins, and celery tops to add to a homemade stock or broth. Any leftover scraps from bell peppers, garlic, mushrooms, and onions also make a great addition to stock or broth.
- Make yummy potato peel chips out of your potato scraps.
- Retain the seeds, pits, and cuttings of your veggies and regrow them at home!
- Save veggie peels for all-natural fabric dye. Use beet ends for reds and purples, red cabbage for blues, yellow onions for oranges, and spinach for greens. Have a look online for inspiration.
- Place cucumber peels at entrance points in your home to deter ants. They don’t like cucumbers.
- Keep the green “trunks” of your broccoli. They can make for a delicious soup.
- Mince and freeze leftover herbs in oil or water before they go bad.
- Don’t throw away the delicious guts of your Halloween jack-o-lantern. Scoop out the insides and blend into pumpkin puree for pie.
- Hold onto tomato peels, cores, and juice and turn into a tomato sauce. Just blend and simmer with oils and spices of your choice.
- Reserve kale stalks for soups that call for chopped greens.
- Make jam from apple peels and cores. You can also do this with strawberry tops and apricot peels.
- Rub the soft side of a banana peel on the leaves of houseplants to shine them up and remove dust – this is great for plant health.
- Make a homemade air freshener. Take leftover fruit scraps and boil in a little water on the stove to make your home smell sweet and fresh.
- Dry lemon or orange peels, then add them to a homemade vinegar cleaning solution (use a 1:1 ratio of vinegar and water for this solution).
- Drop a few banana peels into a bucket of water and let sit for a few days. This will become a potassium and phosphorus-rich “compost tea” for your garden and house plants.
- Toss a couple of citrus peels down the garbage disposal to remove the stink.
- Turn apple peels into a sweet apple tea.
- Turn dried bread crusts into croutons and breadcrumbs. A yummy addition to your soup or any other recipe you may be working on!
- Use a small piece of dried bread crust to soak up oils and scrub hardened food from your cast iron pans. This can also help reduce the waste of paper towels!
- Add a bread heel to your brown sugar container to soften it and make it scoopable again!
- Save your cracker crumbs to top a casserole.
- Hold onto used fine coffee grounds and use as an exfoliant – just whip up a DIY face or body scrub.
- Are you an almond milk fan? After making your almond milk, dry your leftover almond pulp in the oven then grind it into almond flour!
- Turn wine that has gone bad into red wine vinegar, then use on salads or for cleaning. Add three parts wine to one part vinegar and allow to ferment for one month.
- Preserve used cooking oils in a jar, then make suet for the birds during the winter. This can be a great craft project to do with kids as a family!
- Cook with old wine before you pour it down the drain. You can use wine for cooking months after it has been opened. It’s a great addition to simmering dishes like stews or risottos.
- Use dried-out cheese that has not yet gone bad to make macaroni and cheese. You’ll never know the difference!
- Grind cleaned and cracked eggshells into a calcium powder for use in the garden or to remove limestone deposits in your bathroom.
- Use your tea bags twice. Add a couple of used ones together and you’ll have a tea strong enough to brew.
The bottom line
We hope that these tips have offered some inspiration in the kitchen and around the house! If you find yourself with some waste in the kitchen, try taking a look online to see if there are any creative things you can do with it before throwing it away. You may be surprised by what you find!
Do you have any food waste tips that we didn’t include in this list? Let us know! Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you!