I love spending time in my kitchen and whipping up delicious meals for the family. I have been noticing how easy it is to generate food waste.
With so many meals to prepare, I have been piling up leftovers and unused ingredients. I will have to eventually throw them away.
Reducing food waste in my kitchen became a priority, and I decided to learn helpful strategies. Here is what I found.
How to Reduce Food Waste in Your Kitchen?
I discovered a few tricks to reduce food waste in the kitchen. Some of them include being more mindful of what I buy, planning meals, and finding creative ways to use leftovers.
It takes away the burden of food waste and also helps you save money.
Read on as I share with you in detail how you can follow simple practices and reduce food waste in your kitchen.
Understanding Food Waste
When it comes to food waste, there are two important things you should know- types of food waste and how it can harm the environment.
Types of Food Waste
Largely speaking, there are two main types of food waste in the kitchen:
- Unavoidable fod waste: This consists of items like eggshells, peels, and bones, which cannot be consumed.
- Avoidable food waste: This includes leftovers that could have been consumed or food that spoiled due to improper storage.
Food waste has a significant and derogatory impact on the environment. Here is how:
- Greenhouse gas emissions: Decomposing food in landfills produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
- Wasted resources: When food is wasted, the water, energy, and land used to produce it also go to waste. This puts a strain on our planet’s resources.
Also read: How To Avoid Microplastics In Food?
How to Prevent Food Waste in Kitchen
Now that you have understood the types of food waste and its environmental impact, let us proceed with ways to prevent food wastage.
Avoid Generating Food Wastage, To Begin With
There are some easy methods you can follow to reduce food waste in the kitchen.
This will also help you save money while you enjoy fresher, tastier meals.
Proper Food Storage
One of the best ways I found to prevent food waste is proper food storage.
By storing my food correctly, I can extend its shelf life and preserve its quality.
Here are some tips:
- Don’t wash berries, cherries, and grapes until you are ready to eat them. This helps to prevent mold.
- Keep produce dry and store them separately, as moisture accelerates spoilage.
- Keep a check on the temperature setting of your fridge. The FDA recommends 40° F or below for the refrigerator and 0° F for the freezer to keep foods safe.
- Place fruits and vegetables in their designated drawers or containers, away from each other.
- Store herbs in a glass of water, just like a bouquet of flowers. Alternatively, wrap them in a damp paper towel and store them inside airtight containers.
- Refrigerate peeled or cut veggies to maintain their freshness and prevent them from going bad (FDA).
Another effective technique I use is portion control.
I help myself to only the food quantity I know I can eat. This way, I minimize leftovers that will eventually go to waste.
Here are a few ways you can follow to achieve this:
- Use smaller plates. This will trick your brain into thinking that the portions are larger than they are. A Danish survey showed that reducing plate size by just 9% can decrease food waste by over 25%.
- Measure out ingredients and serving sizes when preparing meals. This will help you prepare the correct quantity. Consider using an app or digital scale to measure portions accurately.
- When eating out or ordering takeout, split large portions with a friend or save half for a future meal.
By mastering portion control, you’ll not only help reduce food waste in your kitchen but also promote healthier eating habits for you and your family.
Meal planning is another useful way to avoid food waste.
Here are a few things you can do:
- Take stock of your pantry and refrigerator before going to the store. This will prevent overbuying.
- Create a weekly meal plan with healthy options. Keep in mind what is already available in your kitchen. This will help you use it before it spoils.
- Organize your fridge and pantry. Label the containers with dates so you can utilize older foods first.
Reducing food waste starts with smart shopping habits.
By paying attention to how much you buy and the quality of the products, you can make a positive impact on your kitchen waste.
Buy Imperfect Produce
During your grocery shopping, consider purchasing imperfect produce.
These fruits and vegetables might not look flawless, but they are just as nutritious and tasty as their more attractive counterparts.
By buying this produce, not only do you save money, but you also play a role in preventing waste from produce that might not be sold otherwise.
Before stepping foot in the store, take a moment to assess your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer.
Knowing what you already have will prevent overbuying and help you make more thoughtful decisions during your shopping.
When creating your shopping list, be realistic about the quantities you need. Planning your meals for the week is a great way to do this:
- Identify the meals you’ll cook and the ingredients required for each dish
- Keep in mind portion sizes and how many days the meal will last
- Consider any events or outings that might affect your meal planning
By following these tips, you’ll not only save money, but you’ll also reduce the chances of food going to waste in your kitchen.
Understand Expiry Dates
Knowing how to read food expiry dates can help you avoid throwing out perfectly good items.
Staying aware of the differences between “Best Before,” “Sell By,” and “Use By” dates can help you make smarter decisions about what to keep and what to toss out.
Here are a few key points to remember:
- Best Before: This date, often found on packaged or canned goods, is a suggestion rather than a deadline. It tells you when the product may begin losing its peak taste and quality, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the food is bad. In many cases, you can continue to consume items for a short while after this date.
- Sell By: Primarily meant for retailers, the “sell by” date indicates how long a product should be stocked on store shelves. As long as you store your foods properly, you can still eat them safely for a few days after this date has passed (NSF).
- Use By: This date is the most important to pay attention to. It tells you the last day the food is considered safe to eat. Consuming foods beyond their “use by” dates can pose health risks.
To keep track of expiry dates, consider using a marker to write the date you opened the container on its label.
Doing so will remind you to consume the product before it goes bad.
Remember, your senses can be your best guide. If something looks, smells, or tastes off, it’s better to be safe and throw it out, even if it hasn’t reached its expiry date.
Also read: Can You Heat Almond Milk?
I discovered that leftovers could be the secret to some amazing meals.
Here is how you can reuse leftovers while ensuring minimum food wastage:
One way to turn leftovers into delicious new dishes is by getting creative with recipes.
For example, leftover roasted vegetables can be transformed into a flavorful frittata or a wholesome stir-fry.
Leftover pasta can make a scrumptious pasta bake or a creative pasta salad by adding some fresh veggies and a dressing.
Another idea is to repurpose leftover cooked chicken into a hearty chicken salad or a delicious chicken and rice casserole.
With a little imagination, you can create an entirely new meal using the ingredients in your kitchen.
Freezing and Reheating
Freezing and reheating leftovers can be a lifesaver for busy days. They are also an excellent way to help reduce food waste.
However, keep in mind the following guidelines to ensure food safety and taste:
- Allow hot leftovers to cool down before freezing them.
- Use airtight containers or wraps to avoid freezer burn and keep flavors intact.
- Label the container with the date and contents to track its freshness.
- Reheat leftovers according to your preference in the microwave, oven, or on the stovetop. Just make sure they reach a safe internal temperature of 165°F(74°C).
Food Preservation Techniques
Certain food preservation techniques like canning, pickling, and dehydrating help to extend the shelf life of food. These eventually help reduce waste.
Here are some tips for food preservation:
It involves sealing food in jars and heating them to a high temperature to kill bacteria.
In this method, you soak the food in a solution of vinegar, salt, and spices.
This involves removing moisture from food to prevent spoilage. It can be done using a dehydrator, or you can use an oven.
Also read: How to Dehydrate Herbs in the Air Fryer?
In this method, bacteria are used to break down food and create a tangy flavor.
It can be used for vegetables, fruits, and even dairy products like yogurt.
Food Scraps Repurposing
As I started paying more attention to reducing food waste, I discovered some ways to repurpose food scraps:
Compost Food Scraps
I began composting my food scraps, transforming them into valuable organic matter for my garden.
To get started, you need the following:
- A small container to collect food scraps in the kitchen
- An outdoor compost bin or a pile.
- Equal parts “green” and “brown” materials
Green materials included fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and eggshells. Brown materials comprised leaves, small branches, and shredded paper.
You can start composting by collecting vegetable peelings, fruit scraps, coffee grounds, eggshells, and more. Here’s a basic guide:
- Collect food scraps in a designated container.
- Create a compost pile outdoors or use an indoor composting bin.
- Layer food scraps with “browns” like leaves and shredded paper.
- Make sure your compost is moist but not too wet.
- Turn the pile regularly to help it decompose.
If space is limited, try burying your food scraps in a trench or hole in your yard.
Remember to place the trench at least 6 inches away from your plants and cover it with 6-8 inches of soil. As the scraps break down, they’ll enrich the ground around them.
By composting, you’re not only minimizing waste, but you’re also giving back to the environment and your garden.
So go ahead and turn your leftover food into “black gold” – your plants will thank you!
Besides composting, I found that some food scraps could be applied directly to my garden as fertilizer. One great example was using crushed eggshells.
Eggshells provided calcium to my plants, helping them grow strong. Just crush the eggshells into small pieces.
Next, I sprinkled the crushed eggshells around the base of my plants or mixed them into the soil.
Another way I repurposed food scraps was by creating a homemade fertilizer using banana peels. Just like the eggshells, banana peels contain essential nutrients—such as potassium—that my plants loved.
I soaked banana peels in a jar of water for a few days. I drained the liquid and diluted it with equal amounts of water.
I used this solution to water my plants, providing them with a nourishing boost.
By taking part in local initiatives, we can make a difference beyond our own homes to help reduce food waste.
One way I like to contribute is through food donations. Instead of tossing out surplus groceries or leftovers, consider donating them to local food banks or shelters. This helps to:
- Reduce our overall food waste
- Provide meals to those in need
- Support the work of community organizations
Supporting Sustainable Companies
Another approach to community action is supporting sustainable companies. I make an effort to shop at stores and purchase products that prioritize eco-friendly practices. Some steps you can take include:
- Buying from local farmer’s markets
- Choosing products with minimal packaging
- Researching eco-friendly brands online
Sustainable Packaging Options
Choosing eco-friendly packaging options is an important step in reducing waste.
Biodegradable bags and reusable containers are two sustainable packaging options.
Biodegradable bags are made from materials that can break down naturally.
You can use them for grocery shopping, food storage, or even as garbage bags.
Reusable containers are another option that can help reduce waste. They can be used multiple times, reducing the amount of waste generated.
Use them for storing food and packing lunches. Some commonly used materials for reusable containers are Stainless steel, glass, and silicone.
Food Waste Reduction Apps
Several food waste reduction apps can help track food inventory, suggest recipes for leftovers, or connect with local food banks for donations.
Here are some popular food waste reduction apps:
Too Good To Go: This app connects users with local restaurants and cafes that have surplus food. Users can purchase a “surprise bag” of food at a discounted price.
Olio: This app connects users with neighbors and local businesses to share surplus food. Users can post photos of surplus food and connect with others in their community.
FoodKeeper: This app helps users track food inventory and provides information on how long different foods can be stored.
In my experience, minimizing food waste requires conscious effort and planning. I now appreciate the value of portion control, ensuring I only cook what my family can consume in a single meal.
I found that taking inventory of my pantry, refrigerator, and freezer before shopping helps me avoid overbuying. Meal planning is another useful strategy, as it ensures ingredients are utilized efficiently.
When I practice proper food storage techniques, the shelf life of my groceries is prolonged. Moreover, organizing my fridge allows me to see the items approaching expiration, enabling me to consume them before they spoil.
To further minimize waste, I have learned various food preservation techniques like pickling, fermenting, and canning.
I also found a way to be creative with leftovers and turn them into new meals.
I understood the importance of Community actions and eco-friendly packaging options, and it helped me a great deal in reducing my food waste.
By embracing these simple habits, you, too, can reduce food waste in your kitchen and reduce your carbon footprint. Don’t forget to have a look at the apps mentioned above. Cheers!
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