Food waste is a huge problem for many reasons. It wastes your money, and it’s bad for the environment. It can be a hard problem to fix at first, but once you get into some habits and try some simple DIY’s, it won’t be long before you don’t waste a thing. Don’t forget nobody is perfect so if you waste something it isn’t the end of the world (try and compost it though!).
1. Buy Less Food
Try and plan what you want to eat for the week and buying only what you’ll use. When I lived alone, I walked past two grocery stores every day, so I only bought what I needed and didn’t have to do much planning. Now that I have to drive to a store it is a bit harder, but I try to plan what fresh produce I buy. This is even harder for people with family members adding to the list, but can be done with some practice.
2. Freeze Your Food
As soon as things start going bad try and use it up or freeze it right away. You can freeze most berries, fruit, and vegetables by laying it flat on a cookie sheet to freeze, then once frozen you can put it into a jar or container and it won’t stick together. I did this during blueberry season so I’d have some frozen ones to add to oatmeal during the winter. You can also freeze herbs by putting them in icecube trays with butter, oil or water. You can then throw the frozen cubes straight into a frying pan or pot, or you can thaw them out right before use. I use water or stock if I’m planning on using those herbs for soups, but butter or oil if I want to use them for stir-fry etc. I also freeze leftovers. It’s nice to have lots of stews, soups and curries in the freezer ready for a lazy night.
3. Dry Your Food
If you’re lucky enough to have a dehydrator you can do this easily. I don’t have one yet (but I plan on getting one soon) so I use a couple other methods. I hang herbs and lavender in bundles upside down, I use a low heat in my oven to dry out some things (mostly kale chips), and I use the sun. I dry out orange, lemon and lime zest by placing it in a thin layer on a plate in the window sill. It takes a while but it works.
4. Store Your Food Properly
You can look up any fruit or veggie to see how to store it, and there are tons of charts available online (and one I liked below). You can always try printing out one of these charts and leaving it on the fridge. One big tip I have is to leave your greens with a damp cloth. I always wrap any kale, collard greens or napa cabbage in a big damp tea towel. It helps keep them crisp.
I store loose spinach with a dry tea towel to absorb moisture. If you have bananas or avocados getting too ripe put them in the fridge. Keep your tomatoes on the counter.
5. Cook It
If you see something is starting to go try and use it up. Even if you don’t have a recipe in mind you can use it in lots of ways. One way to use older veggies or veggie scraps is to make a broth/stock with it (you can find the recipe here). You can also make jam with old berries, tomato sauce with old tomatoes, pies with old fruits and berries, applesauce with old apples, banana bread with brown bananas, or so many other things. The key is to get creative. You can also freeze all of those things to eat later.
What other tips do you have to add?