Growing up, we always had a compost bin. If I was lazy and tossed a banana peel into the garbage, surely my mom or dad would see it and make me put it in the compost. Compost was real. As I got older and I was solely responsible for my own meals, I realized that the food waste struggle is real. Not only is it an international environmental problem (about 40% of food in the US is wasted) it’s an unfortunate waste of your money. And if there is anyway to avoid or use food waste, we should do so! Since I hate throwing food away, I have picked up some tricks to make sure nothing gets wasted that doesn’t have to be. Here are some of the ways that I keep from throwing money into the trash each week.
I just started learning about this one! I have tried it with green onions and so far they have been successful! Other veggies you can regrow on your windowsill include celery, romaine lettuce, and onions. See some ideas here!
Cut and peel mindfully
I know this seems simple, but I have made it a point to cut with intention. When I would naturally lop off an inch of asparagus stems, or the end of an onion, I have found that I can get about 10% more of a veggie if I just barely cut off the non-edible bits. Also, I am a huge fan of leaving the skin on many things. You will rarely see me peel a potato, zucchini or cucumber. Extra texture and flavor is always a good thing.
If it’s about to go bad, cook it or freeze it
Sometimes we have good intentions. We hit the market and come home with a ton of fresh veggies. Then you cook one of your planned meals and a week later that massive bag of kale is still in the bottom of your crisper getting limp and damp.
When shopping for groceries, make sure that you aren’t buying more then what you can eat within a reasonable amount of time. I’m not totally innocent here though. If something is about to go in my fridge, I immediately cook it. Sauté the greens, cook the veg, and make a mix and match meal out of it. If I need to, I will then cool and freeze it for another day. Another great way to use up less then fresh veg is to make a big pot of soup, like my favorite- minestrone or third place vegan chili!
Use what you have
I think this is my favorite and best talent in the kitchen. I believe there are two types of people. Those that shop for, and complete recipes step by step (and actually measure things). Then there are people like me, that just cook by what they have, what looks good, and what we like. There is no doubt that I could make a somewhat rounded meal out of just about any pantry with the essentials. Even when there is “nothing to eat” in the house. My go-to is pictured below- chickpea salad on a bed of lettuce!
Keeping a low waste kitchen keeps things clean, simple and creates a rewarding cooking experience that comes from knowing that your hard earned money is being put toward the most fresh fruit and veggies that you can.
How do you reduce waste in your kitchen? What are some tips that you have?