The Recipe Redux April Theme: In honor of Earth day, we’re challenging ReDux members to show how they reduce food waste. Whatever you would normally toss, use it up. Share tips for reducing food waste in meal planning, prep or using up scraps.
That being said, here's a few ways that we personally work to reduce food waste in our household:
1. Fruit & veggie prep + composting: the one habit that I've found to be most helpful in reducing food waste is to prep my fresh produce immediately after buying (or next day) and compositing any unused parts. This has been helpful in reducing then number of items that get forgotten about in the fridge and go bad, but then provided me with an outlet to use other parts of these items that are not traditionally consumed. I feel MUCH better knowing that those food scraps are being put to good use through compost, eventually making its way into our garden!
2. Recycling: I consider food waste any food + the packaging it comes in. Thanks to our county adopting a commingled recycling program, it's a lot easier for us to make a habit of it (even though we still have to dump it ourselves since we're out of town limits). I have also tried to be more mindful of how I am buying my food so as to cut back on packaging. For one, it seems silly to me to use reusable bags and yet put all my separate veggies in plastic baggies, so I minimize that when possible and/or put multiple veggies in each bag (much to the demise of the cash register folks). I have also been trying to buy in bulk more often from our local natural foods store. But most any packaging from our food does go to recycling, which has greatly reduced the volume of our trash.
3. Getting creative with leftovers: To get a grasp on how much food I was throwing out, I started making a habit of cleaning out the fridge weekly. This really opened my eyes to just how much food I was letting go bad and not actually consuming (which of course, hurts the wallet too). From there, I tried to become more creative in using leftovers, or at the least more intentional in moving leftovers to the freezer before they went bad. That said, there is still the issue with vegetable scraps - what to do with those parts of veggies that I don't normally consume? One way I handled this dilemma is by making my own fresh vegetable broth. While not all vegetables are appropriate for making broth, I aim to separate those that ARE and set aside in a separate container while prepping for meals. This not only saves me money (in not having to buy it), but makes for the most fresh, flavorful and nutrient-rich broth! And even better... it's so DANG EASY!
The process is quite simple: dedicate a container to collecting vegetable scraps throughout the week (I have started cutting up my veggies immediately after bringing them home, which means I do this all at once).
Next, boil some water and add your vegetable scraps along with some flavoring agents (onion, carrot, celery, herbs and spices, etc). COVER your broth and allow it to simmer for a while. I let mine go for at least 1 hour, then let it sit in the fridge overnight.
When you're ready, strain out the veggies and there you have some beautiful broth!!
Ready to make your own??
Make it your own: I added miso paste as a flavoring agent, but also because I am trying to incorporate more probiotic foods into my diet. It's easy to personalize homemade broth to your desired tastes by playing around with different herb and spice combinations.
Other Ideas in Cutting Back on Food Waste
While this list is in no way all inclusive, here are a few other quick ideas to help with using food leftovers to cut back on waste:
Now you tell me, what are some creative ways you use up leftovers to keep them out of the trash?!?
*** Special THANK YOU to my brother in law, Josh, for his assistance with the photography of this post and teaching me how to better use my camera! ***
Kristen Chang is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) and endurance athlete residing in southwest Virginia alongside her husband and dog. Through this blog she aims to share favorite fueling recipes, general wellness and sport nutrition tips and stories from her athletic endeavors.
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