Brittany Viklund is here today with some helpful tips to help you waste less food. They are small changes that are sure to make a big difference.
The single best thing we have done to reduce food waste in our home is plan out our meals for the week before we head to the grocery store. I used to think that meal planning was a big ordeal and a ton of effort, but the way we approach it in our home is simple and straightforward. I start with my favorite cookbook or two and a piece of paper with the days listed on it and a space for groceries. On our busier nights, I plan the easier meals, and meals that require more perishable ingredients are planned for the days closest to when we do our grocery shopping with less-perishable meals (like frozen pizza) planned for the days at the end of our week. If I’m using an ingredient that I know comes with more than I need (like an entire bag of spinach when I only need a cup), then I try to plan other meals that will also use that ingredient. With each meal plan, I learn and adjust. The key is just to start. You’ll likely figure it out as you go and make adjustments that work best for your needs and your consideration of reducing food waste.
What a time to be alive—we literally have a world of information at our fingertips! Recently, I ended up with half a red onion, half a lemon and whatever was left of a bag of arugula. I also found a forgotten apple in the crisper drawer, so I Googled “onion, apple and arugula salad” and a plethora of combinations populated in an instant. I didn’t even know you could mix those items for a tasty salad, but as it turns out, you absolutely can, and I even used the lemon for the dressing.
Take a Weekly Survey
About once a week, I have a reminder set to take a survey of our produce. If I find anything that is about to go bad or is not needed for our week’s meals, I gather all of those items, wash them, cut them and toss them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and roast them in the oven until tender. Now I have a side dish for dinner, the makings of a salad or grain bowl, a snack, baby finger food, ingredients for a hearty soup or anything else I want to use them for!
Put Yourself on a Grocery Freeze
If you find that you have too much in your pantry or fridge but “nothing to eat,” put yourself on a grocery freeze. Think of this like a “spending freeze” or a capsule wardrobe, but for your pantry. By forcing yourself to work with what you got you may find that you have more than you thought and that you can whip up some pretty creative (or maybe just simple) meals. This will likely teach you a lot about what you need, and what you don’t, and thus influence the way you approach grocery shopping in the future.
Save Your Scraps
Vegetable scraps that you don’t intend to use can be stashed in a Ziploc bag in your freezer. When the bag is full, you can turn it into vegetable broth with water and salt or other flavors of your choice (call on your old pal Google for a recipe that suits your desires). There are ways to use virtually any and all scraps or unused perishables. Unused herbs can be dried and turned into seasonings before they go bad and even green onion leftovers and other vegetable roots can be plopped in water and regrown! There are many ways to utilize the things we typically toss, create a Pinterest board, gather ideas and think twice before you dump them in the trash.
Want to Learn More?
Check out the book An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler. It’s a beautifully written read that taught me so much about cooking, food and more. It’s not just a book about food, though. It is poetic, provoking and really helped me connect with food in a deep and meaningful way. I absolutely love this book and have become so much savvier in the kitchen as a result of it!
Brittany is a lover of routines, books, simple joys and anything creative. With a degree in marketing and advertising, she worked in early childhood education for 7 years before pursuing her creative work full-time as an illustrator, blogger, photographer and becoming a mother.