It's a hard truth that we are battling a very real food waste problem in our world today. Earlier this year, a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)-funded study revealed that American consumers waste almost one pound of food per day, accounting for 225 to 290 pounds per person per year. Those are some sobering figures.
We are already big fans of cooking with scraps and try our darnedest to be mindful of our shopping habits; but we also know how quickly we can fall into old habits when statistics like the one above are out of sight and out of mind. In our busy day-to-day, there are actually easy ways we can be more cognizant of our cooking and shopping habits, as well as adjustments in the choices we make. They may be small, but the hope is to build on cumulative consumer habits to change the larger cultural landscape surrounding waste.
Here are just a handful of tips to get you going. We'd love to know what effective ways you've adopted in cutting down on food and kitchen waste in your home, so be sure to share those with us below.
Food shopping is the easiest place to start. Start by making a grocery list or devising a meal plan for the week (including leftovers). Menu planning may seem like a lot of work at first, but you'll be working towards reducing the amount of unused (especially perishable) ingredients, with the added benefit of saving money along the way.
Speaking of food shopping, prepare yourself on your visits: Bring your reusable bags, including containers for bulk items like grains or beans or more fragile ones like delicate berries; consider buying larger quantities when something is on sale and it works for your household (my mother is a huge fan of pre-portioning ground beef and storing these individual amounts in the freezer).
In terms of actual products to help you reduce kitchen waste, consider the following kitchen helpers: a dedicated compost bin, reusable sandwich wrappers, mesh or canvas bags for produce, larger reusable totes for bigger shopping hauls.
Be honest: Do you rinse your produce under a running faucet? I definitely do. Consider changing up your vegetable- and fruit-cleaning game by first placing them all in a big bowl in the sink before turning on the tap. You can reuse that water to feed your plants or soak dirty dishes. Another idea? Before throwing your pasta in a bubbling pot of water, consider blanching some of your dinner veg beforehand (snap peas, green beans, broccoli are especially good contenders).
Take a page from our own Food Writer and Recipe Developer Emma Laperruque, who turned to cook-what-you-have, Chopped-inspired dinners weekly with her PhD student husband.
Make some of the following leftover-friendly heavy hitters part of your weekly rotation: fried rice, pasta, stir fry, pizza, soup, meatballs (and vegetable balls alike).
What are your favorite tips and products for reducing waste in the kitchen? Share them with us below!