Minimizing Food Waste: Tips and Tricks for a More Sustainable Kitchen
Author: Jennifer Mandeville
Published Date: September 26, 2023
Food waste is a major problem worldwide, with an estimated one-third of all food produced for human consumption going to waste each year. Not only is this a significant environmental issue, but it also has economic and social implications. By minimizing food waste, we can save money, conserve resources, and help to feed more people. In this blog post, we’ll explore some tips and tricks for minimizing food waste in your kitchen.
1. Audit your food waste
Discover how much food, money, and time you waste by auditing your food waste ideally over the course of a week. Here's a great free guide on how to do it with a printable worksheet included! This is the exact same audit we used in training for the Food Recovery for Rhode Island program.
Ends+Stems: Conduct A Food Waste Audit
2. Plan your meals
One of the most effective ways to minimize food waste is to plan your meals in advance. By creating a weekly meal plan and shopping list, you can ensure that you only buy what you need and avoid overbuying. This can help to reduce the amount of food that goes to waste because it has gone bad before you have had a chance to use it. Plus, you'll save money! I love to plan my meals in a special notebook with the weekly overview "Calendar" format on my Kindle Scribe.
3. Store food properly
Proper food storage is essential for extending the shelf life of your food and minimizing waste. Make sure that you are storing food at the appropriate temperature and in the right conditions. For example, some fruits and vegetables should be stored in the refrigerator, while others should be kept at room temperature. Pantry foods should be stored in cool, dry, dark places, not near stoves, or heating or water pipes. Dry foods keep fresh the longest in airtight containers, which also help keep out insects. After shopping, mark your purchases with the date. Shop my favorite sustainable kitchen goods.
Here are some great tips from The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, written by Sarah Klemm, RDN, CD, LDN:
"Here are some tips on proper food storage in the cupboard:
- Keep your cupboards and pantry clean, dry, dark and cool — preferably away from any heat-producing appliances. A cool temperature range, between 50°F to 70°F, helps keep foods at their best longer. When foods are stored at warmer temperatures (above 100°F) it tends to lower the quality of many foods, especially canned goods.
- Organize your cupboards by placing older containers in front to use first. Canned foods have a long shelf life and, if stored properly, many unopened canned foods stay safe to use past their quality date on the can. For highly acidic foods, such as tomatoes and fruit, they may keep for as long as 12 to 18 months and less acidic foods, such as canned meats and vegetables, may last for two to four years.
- Be alert for food spoilage and discard cans that are cracked, bulging, leaking or that spurt liquid when opened.
- Most unopened dried fruits and vegetables can be stored in the pantry for 6 months to a year. After opening, use within one to three months or transfer to the fridge for a longer shelf life. For more information on how long foods last, check the FoodKeeper App.
- After opening packages of dry foods, such as rice and pasta, store them in dry, airtight containers. This will help keep out insects and rodents and help prevent food from absorbing odors and moisture.
- Store foods away from kitchen chemicals and household trash.
Another great site to view food safety in general including how long foods last safely is the food safety government site:
foodsafety.gov Food Safety Charts
4. Use leftovers creatively
Leftovers are a great way to minimize food waste, but they can be boring if you simply reheat them. Instead, try using leftovers creatively by turning them into new dishes. For example, leftover roasted veggies can be used to make a delicious broth, soup, or a flavorful Buddha bowl.
5. Freeze food
Freezing food is another great way to extend its shelf life and minimize waste. If you have produce that is starting to go bad, consider freezing it for later use. You can also freeze leftovers or meals that you have prepared in advance.
6. Compost food scraps
Composting is a great way to reduce food waste while also creating nutrient-rich soil for your garden. If you have food scraps that cannot be used or eaten, such as vegetable peels or eggshells, consider composting them instead of throwing them away. If you're new to composting or have no idea what to do, consider reaching out to your local Master Gardeners or searching on the web for "community composting near me." There may be co-ops, non-profits, or other outreach programs in your area that will collect your compostable items. Be sure to check their approved item lists before donating.
In conclusion, minimizing food waste is an important step in creating a more sustainable kitchen and reducing your environmental impact. By planning your meals, storing food properly, using leftovers creatively, freezing food, and composting food scraps, you can help minimize waste and save money. So, the next time you’re in the kitchen, remember these simple tips and do your part to reduce food waste.