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You know you can do it. You just need a plan. Figuring out how to reduce food waste at home is easier than you think. Start by considering this startling statistic: Each one of us throws away almost 1 pound of food every day.
That’s hard on grocery budgets, and it runs counter to sustainability goals. It also serves as inspiration for exploring ways you can make a positive difference in the kitchen.
10 Smart Tips That Minimize Food Waste at Home
Your favorite restaurants know how to do it. Commercial kitchens follow procedures that reduce the amount of food they throw away. Their food waste solutions are simple to adopt and easy to follow.
Take a cue from foodservice professionals with these 10 tips for reducing food waste at home.
1. Check Before You Shop
Before you start a grocery list, check the pantry and refrigerator. This helps you plan meals around ingredients you already have. Be sure to note items that need to be used over the next several days.
Make the most of what you have, and reduce what you have to throw away. A quick check before you head out keeps you from buying more than you really need.
2. Always Buy the Best
Shopping for premium produce can help you avoid wasting food. Talk to the produce managers at your grocery store. Let them know you value quality and long shelf life. Whether you’re buying romaine hearts or baby iceberg lettuce, you always want the best.
3. Resist the Temptation of Sales
It’s tempting to bring home hamburger in bulk packages, but how quickly can you use it up? Saving money on sales doesn’t pay off when you wind up throwing away unused food. Be strong while you shop. Only buy what you really need for each week’s meal planning.
4. Use Smart Storage Strategies
Smart storage strategies stretch the life of perishables in the fridge. That stretches your grocery budget and reduces food waste.
For example, different types of chilled lettuce lasts longer with different storage techniques, while citrus fruits should be stored on the counter.
5. Save It in the Freezer
Your freezer gives you lots of ways to reduce food waste. If you believe something might spoil over the next day or two, wrap it up, and freeze it for later use. These are just a few ideas for saving food in the freezer.
• Store veggies and fruits for future nutritious smoothies.
• Blanch and freeze green vegetables for quick dinner sides.
• Save chopped peppers, onions and mushrooms for omelets.
• Par-boil and freeze potatoes for soups and casseroles.
6. Cook From Root to Stalk
It started as a restaurant trend. It’s now considered an essential practice in many commercial kitchens. Root to stalk cooking holds down food costs while it elevates the healthy profile of vegetable dishes.
The technique is an excellent way to reduce food waste in your kitchen.
7. Pay Attention to Portions
This is another tip that restaurants use every day. Pay attention to the amount of food you prepare for a meal. Plan on cooking enough for one sitting.
Portion control holds down food waste, and saves money too.
8. Fire Up Your Creativity
Don’t let anything go to waste in your kitchen. If it’s on the edge of spoiling, get creative. Simmer stock from meat or vegetables, and store it in the freezer. Toss everything in the crock pot, and enjoy a hearty stew for dinner.
Think about taking up the kitchen art of canning. It’s a smart technique that reduces food waste and keeps your pantry stocked. It’s also a delicious way to keep favorite vegetables and fruits available year-round.
9. Partner With Local Food Banks
Most food banks welcome fresh produce because they can put it to use right away. If you can’t finish off those fruits or veggies by the end of the week, reach out to your local food bank.
Every donation helps make a positive difference across the entire community.
10. Turn Food Waste Into Flowers
Why not let your garden enjoy the benefits of reducing food waste? Turn spoiled veggies into beneficial compost for the flower bed or vegetable patch, and enjoy the bounty of a beautiful garden.
You’re Doing the Right Thing
Reducing food waste saves money. It also makes you more conscious about healthy menu planning. You’re doing the right thing for your home and the environment. Here at Hitchcock Farms, our commitment to sustainability is one of our founding principles. We know it’s important to you too, and we thank you for that.
Dan Holt is an experienced produce professional who started in the industry as a quality assurance inspector in the early 1990s and leads sales at Hitchcock Farms as Vice President. Prior to joining Hitchcock Farms, Dan enjoyed success in organic, specialty and conventional produce and with independent operators, regional and national chains in North America and abroad. Dan continues his passion in produce through collaborative inspiration and promoting healthy and sustainable food.