I don't usually make New Year's resolutions because of the added pressure and the high rate of failure. However, this year there is one resolution that I know I can stick to - reducing my food waste. There are so many things that are happening to our environment that make us feel helpless, yet, reducing the amount of food that we waste is one direct way to make an impact on the food system, pollution, and your wallet.
SaveTheFood.com is an incredible resource for tips that have helped me cut the amount of food that I waste in my household. But, before I dish out some pointers, here are some hard and fast facts about the amount of waste that occurs in most homes.
- 40% of food in America is wasted
- 90% of us throw away food too soon
- 20% of the food we purchase never gets eaten
- Each of us throws out more than 400 pounds of food a year
- A 4-person family loses $1,500 a year on wasted food, and $218 billion worth of food is wasted
- Food is the number one item in America's landfills and contributes more to climate pollution than all of the cars in Georgia.
How to reduce your food waste:
Although those facts are pretty discouraging, there is so much that you can do!
- Plan your meals based on what you may already have in the fridge.
- Plan your meals ahead of time and shop accordingly.
- Use portion control guidelines to help you figure out how much you need to make in advance.
- Make soup, stews, and sauces in large batches and freeze into portions for a quick dinner on the fly.
- Start with your favorite "go-to" recipes to avoid feeling overwhelmed with a new task.
- Batch cook veggies, grains, and plant-based protein or sustainable animal protein in order to have the ideal foundation for simple, streamlined meals throughout the week.
- Make a few different sauces, dips, or dressings to add variety to your meals.
- Lean heavily on spices and sprinkle on some toasted nuts and seeds for added texture, nutrition, and flavor.
- Throw in some fermented items like kimchi and sauerkraut to add probiotics and diversity to your meal.
- For balance, fiber, and protein, prep one or two whole grains. They complement most dishes from soups to stews to simple beans and vegetables.
- Batch cook legumes for a simple plant-based source of protein that also provides fiber. Think lentils, chickpeas, and black beans. They can be added to salads, bowls, or turned into dips or soups.
revive your food
- Don't give up on droopy wilted produce - give them a second life. Soak veggies in ice water to crisp or stiffen them up. Alternatively, just cook them if they can not be completely restored.
- Turn stale bread into breadcrumbs.
- Made something too salty? Add vinegar, lemon juice, water, crushed tomatoes, or unsalted broth instead of tossing out.
- Overcooked your vegetables or made a dish that disappointed? Transform it into a soup or a sauce. Just toss it into the blender with some stock.
- Turn vegetable scraps into stock. Put scraps in a freezer friendly container in your freezer. Once you have enough, turn it into a stock.
freeze your food
- Freeze in family size or individual portions to reduce defrosting more than you will eat.
- Pre-slice bread and freeze it so that you can toast up one slice at a time.
- Place pureed herbs or pesto into ice cube molds and pop them out as needed.
- Use a muffin tin to freeze stews and chili in portions that are perfect for lunch or single serving dinners.
- Squeeze excess air from plastic bags and containers. Avoid opening the freezer door unnecessarily to reduce freezer burn.
- Most liquids expand in the freezer, so leave about half an inch at the top of containers to account for expansion
- Label your containers with the contents and the date. Use clear containers when possible so you can easily see what is inside.
- Make a list and stick to it.
- Use the bulk bins in order to save money and buy the exact amount that you need.
- Consider purchasing the imperfect fruits and vegetables.
- Portion plan so that you know exactly how much food to purchase.
A huge resource to help you save the food in your household is The Guest-Imator, an online tool that helps figure out how much food you'll need to feed a certain amount of guests. The Guest-Imator lets your select type of eater (small, average, large), how much you want left over, and the type of meal that you are having, such as plant-based or classic. The Guest-Imator generates the amount of food that you will need to purchase - so no more guessing or wasting food.
Tips and tricks from SaveTheFood.com
roasted cauliflower with anchovy breadcrumbs
serves 3 to 4
In an effort to reduce food waste, this recipe utilizes all parts of the cauliflower, leaves and stems, as well as the leaves and stems of the parsley. It also repurposes the stale ends of bread into breadcrumbs.
- 1 head of cauliflower
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes, divided
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 3 pieces of stale bread ( I used sprouted rye)
- 4 anchovy filets, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup parsley, leaves and stems chopped
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper. Break off the cauliflower florets and leaves, and cut the stems into bite sized pieces. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes until golden and tender.
- While the cauliflower cooks, toast the bread in a toaster. Let cool and rip into large pieces. In batches, place bread into a blender or food processor, and gently pulse until rice-sized pieces are formed.
- Warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, anchovies, and the red pepper flakes and cook until the anchovies are almost melted, about 2 minutes. Add the breadcrumbs, and cook until golden, 5 minutes more.
- To serve, place cauliflower into a large bowl, toss with lemon juice, lemon zest, parsley, and a scattering of breadcrumbs. Use any leftover breadcrumbs to top pasta, grain bowls, salads, or additional vegetables.
This post was created in partnership with The Ad Council and NRDC in order to showcase the Save the Food public service campaign. However, my opinions are entirely my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support crunchy radish.