Genius Ways to Reduce Food Waste

food-waste-585My husband sent me this article on pretty simple yet genius ways to cut down on food waste. He sent me the piece for three reasons:

  1. It featured one of my favorite chefs — Dan Barber from Blue Hill — who was featured in this amazing series.
  2. I *might* be known for buying way too many veggies than we can eat and then, sadly, having to throw them out because they go bad.
  3. The tips are really, really good! (Like, you can freeze milk?! Who knew? Not I.)

And it totally inspired me to stop the insanity that is food waste. I mean, not only is it just, well, wasteful, but it’s also not so great for the environment and it’s expensive. I already make a point to buy as much organic, local and sustainably grown and produced foods as I can, so why should I be okay with just having that stuff land in the trash? I’m not okay. I’m totally not okay with it.
So here are a few things I’ve been doing to help reduce food waste — some are tips from the article that I’ve actually tried and had success with, and others are just things that have worked for us since starting, what we call, “Project Stop Food Waste” at home.

5 Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste

1. Make the freezer your BFF. Dan Barber mentions that you should freeze pretty much anything you can to make it last longer, and I LOVE doing that. From milk (yes, it works!) to almond milk (awesome as ice cubes to throw in your next smoothie) to bread to greens to soup and casserole leftovers, the freezer is a fantastic way to take food that you can’t eat right away and save it from landing in the trash can.
2. Meal plan. When I don’t go to the grocery store with a plan, I always end up throwing food out later that week. But, when I take just five minutes to decide what we’re going to eat that week, I severely cut down on food waste. And save moolah in the process. Plus, fewer unhealthy food-impulse purchases end up in the cart. Win.
3. Make a smoothie. When I eat a salad, I like my greens to be crisp and fresh. So when I see a bag of spinach or kale taking a turn for the wilted or fruit going a little riper than I’d like, I either freeze it immediately (goes great later in soups or stir-fries) or throw it in a smoothie. With a little protein powder, nut butter and milk or coconut water, you’d never know it was anything less than perfect.
4. Make it a game. One of the most fun parts about “Project Stop Food Waste” is seeing just how creative we can be with what’s in the fridge. For example, chicken chili on a Monday and spaghetti squash with meat sauce on a Tuesday becomes leftover spaghetti squash with chicken chili on it for Wednesday. Or, a half dozen eggs that are almost past their prime get mixed with about-to-turn arugula and smoked salmon for a frittata — along with a cup of canned butternut squash soup. It’s fun to get creative to see what you can use up!
5. Love the ugly produce. I came across this company a few months ago, and it’s brilliant. They don’t deliver to my area, but its totally changed how I pick out what produce I buy at the store and at the farmers’ market. I like to think of my fruits and veggies like people … imperfection is real — and beautiful!
Is food waste on your radar? What other tips do you have? I haven’t been brave enough to try the sour milk tip from that article just yet … but I am one for definitely pushing the limits of the “best by” date. —Jenn

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