7 Tips for Cutting Down on Food Waste

According to the USDA, we throw away around 133 billion pounds of food every year. Why so much? We’re taught that stems, leaves and stalks on most vegetables should be tossed out; that the sell-by date on food means it’s time to trash it; and that so-called “ugly” fruits and vegetables aren’t good enough for grocery store shelves.

It’s time to turn that thinking upside down and find ways that your family can cut down on food waste. It’s good for the planet, plus it’ll save you money in the long run!

Here are some practical tips that can help:

1. Eat stems and leaves: When was the last time you cooked with cauliflower leaves instead of the nice, white florets? We’re going to guess just about never. Most people are accustomed to putting the leaves in the disposal when in fact, they can be used in a variety of recipes that incorporate all parts of the cauliflower (such as this Dry Vegetable Curry with Cauliflower Leaves & Stems). Broccoli stems can also be of use and Food52 has some great recipes including Cooked Broccoli Stem Salad and Broccoli Stem Braise. Check them out here!

2. Don’t toss too early: Did you know that sell-by dates don’t necessarily mean the food in your fridge or pantry can no longer be used? The truth is that many foods are fine to eat well after their sell-by dates. Take eggs for example. According to this article from TIME eggs can be consumed three to five weeks after purchase, You can learn what those sell-by dates actually mean here.

3. Practice FIFO: The acronym stands for First In, First Out, and if you keep it in mind when you’re arranging your fridge and freezer, you’ll be more likely to use up older items before they expire. It’s really quite simple: When unpacking groceries, move older products to the front of the fridge/freezer/pantry and put new products in the back.

4. Keep the skin on: Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to always peel cucumbers, carrots and potatoes when you’re cooking with them. Just be sure to wash them very well before using. Bonus: Skins and stems often provide additional nutrients.

5. Repurpose leftovers scraps. Use vegetable and meat scraps in homemade stocks, and use citrus fruit rinds and zest to add flavor to other meals. OhMyVeggies offers step-by-step instructions for making vegetable stock with kitchen scraps. Don’t need zest right away? You can make it and dry or freeze it for future use. The Kitchn explains how.

6. Salvage stale bread. Too much old bread lying around the kitchen? You’re in luck! Stale bread is great for making croutons, bread crumbs and much more. Keep this list of what to make from Epicurious handy so you’ll never have to throw out a baguette again.

7. Freeze celery and carrots. These two workhorse vegetables may often be left to wilt at the bottom of the vegetable drawer. Take a note out of Birds Eye’s book and save them from this sad fate by freezing them while they’re still crisp. Just chop up the veggies and store them in the freezer for future use in stocks and other recipes.

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