America has a food waste problem. In the United States alone, 40 percent of food gets tossed every year. That amounts to $162 billion in waste annually, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. Those numbers may seem astronomical—but you can easily make a difference in your own home. By prioritizing low waste cooking, you can reduce food waste, save money, and find a new sense of creativity and play in the kitchen. Here are five low waste cooking tips to incorporate into your kitchen.
Plan it out.
Meal planning is a great way to stay organized, save money, and reduce food waste. Who among us hasn’t had produce go bad in the fridge before you get to use it? Going food shopping with a plan ensures that you are buying only what you need and will use. You may want to plan meals with repeat ingredients that allow you to use every part of it. Already a meal prep pro? Consider taking a regular trip to your local farmer’s market and incorporating seasonal produce into your meals! This is a great sustainable alternative to packaged produce that supports local business—and may encourage you to get more creative in your cooking!
Grow and re-grow.
Do you tend to use a lot of herbs? How about celery or green onions? Starting a small kitchen garden is fun, easy, and rewarding. Commonly used herbs such as basil, mint, and cilantro grow quickly and easily in a windowsill with sunlight, and there are many common vegetables that you can regrow from kitchen scraps! This is a great way to save money while reducing waste. (Plus, who doesn’t love garden-fresh ingredients?)
Save and reuse scraps.
Finding ways to repurpose food scraps is an exciting challenge that can help spice up your cooking (perhaps literally)! Perhaps you use leftover veggie leaves and stems to make pesto, make broth from bones, candy fruit peels, or use celery leaves as a garnish? The zero waste cooking trend is a great way to flex your creativity and develop some signature recipes.
Zero waste cooking strives to use every part of every ingredient—but we know that isn’t always feasible for your average cook. If you have food scraps that aren’t usable, add them to your compost! Composting is easier than you think, and you can even store it in the freezer!
Share the love!
So your eyes were bigger than your stomach, and you’ve ended up with more leftovers than you know what to do with. It’s time to share your newfound culinary skills! Rather than tossing out extra food, share it with a friend or neighbor, or bring it to a community fridge. You’ll be keeping food out of the landfill and nourishing your community.