How to Reduce Food Waste and Be a More Conscious Cook
We all hear so much about how we are ruining our planet, especially within the agricultural industry. In fact, one third of all food grown for human consumption gets lost or wasted every year. That adds up to about 1.3 billion tons of food! The United States alone wastes almost $160 billion of food per year. Not only this, but food waste contributes to increased water waste and leaves a growing carbon footprint.
So what can you actually do to help?
The simplest place to start is in your own kitchen! This post will outline 5 easy (and affordable!!!) ways that you can reduce food waste and be more environmentally-friendly in the kitchen.
- Store your veggie scraps in the freezer to make veggie stock
This is something I actually do every week, and I have come to notice how cost effective and easy it is to reduce waste. All you have to do is keep a big container or plastic resealable bag in your freezer, and fill it up throughout the week as you use veggies and herbs. You can put pretty much anything in there including potato and carrot peels, onion and garlic skins, thyme stems, leafy green stalks, cabbage or Brussels sprout scraps, and so much more! If you need more information, follow the simple steps in this recipe, and don’t be afraid to experiment. Add more garlic cloves, herbs, and ginger into your broth for some extra flavor and punch.
WARNING: Do not put citrus peels or other fruits into your broth. It can make it turn out bitter or strange tasting. (Believe me… I made that mistake)
- Freeze your fresh herbs
It is the absolute worst feeling when you find a dried up, dead package of used-to-be-fresh herbs in the back of fridge and you have to throw them away. Instead of missing out on all of that delicious herby flavor and contributing to food waste, you should just freeze your herbs! All you have to do is cut them up, sprinkle them in an ice cube tray, and fill each well with just enough olive oil or boiling water to cover. Add these cubes to stir-fries, soups, marinades, curries, and pretty much anything else that you want!
- Regrow your own vegetables
Confession: I am awful at keeping plants alive.
I have so much love for plants, but can never seem to maintain even the easiest ones. Despite this, I have successfully regrown veggies and herbs, so I promise you can too. The absolute easiest one to regrow is scallions. Just stick the ends in some water in a plastic cup, put it on your windowsill, and then wait. They regrow quickly and are so versatile! Follow any of the tips in this video if you want to know more about regrowing veggies.
- Use disregarded vegetable parts in your cooking
There are so many ways to use different parts of vegetables that people normally disregard. One of my favorites is pesto, and no you don’t just use basil. You can make it with practically any green vegetable part, including carrot tops arugula, herb stems, or carrot tops. My second favorite recipe includes those ugly broccoli and cauliflower stems. Once you finely cut them up you can use them as a base for a delicious salad or sauté them for a simple and flavorful side dish
- ALWAYS use the zest from your citrus
You can add this zest to practically anything, and it helps use up all parts of the fruit before you throw it out. Orange zest is wonderful in marinades for your favorite proteins (e.g chicken or tofu). Lemon zest is great in a fresh, herbaceous salad dressing. Lime zest is delicious in a bean and corn summer salad or simply sprinkled over some tacos.
Go out there and get zesty!
Now that you know some easy ways to reduce food waste, save money, and help the environment by changing your cooking practices, get creative with it! Put your own spin on any of these tips, and share photos of all the great things you cook with us @teeninsidermag.