5 tips for reducing your food waste at home

Photos by: Katie Smith, Unsplash

Did you know that over a third of all food produced globally is wasted? It’s a shocking reality to grasp. Earlier this week, in honor of Earth Day, we sat down with our Culinary Director, Chef Tien Ho, to discuss how we can reduce our food waste at home.

1. Plan ahead: Meal planning plays a huge role in mitigating food waste. Before getting your groceries, make a list to map out exactly what you need. You will find that you can stretch most ingredients when you plan ahead, which helps with product usage and reducing waste. By planning your meals ahead, you will be able to incorporate one day’s leftovers into tomorrow’s meal. Is there meat leftover from dinner? Add it to eggs the next day for breakfast.

2. Prep your meals: Like planning ahead, prepping ahead is key. I find it a big time saver, especially when I lack the motivation to fully prep dinner for one. When cooking, make sure you use everything – there’s always a use for what may seem like trash. For example, save bacon grease and use it to make extra delicious biscuits. I usually baste my steak in butter with garlic and herbs after I’ve seared or roasted them. Save the butter! It will be great on toast the next day. I’ve also recently discovered the regrowing of scallion or romaine lettuce bottoms. It takes a little time, but it’s fun to see them grow. All you need is water, sunlight and time. To do this, save about 2 to 3 inches of the bottom of the lettuce and scallion (the white part). Put it in a cup (bottom down), and fill the cup halfway with water. Place in a sunny window and watch it grow!

3. Use proper storage: Proper food handling and storage are key to not only food safety, but also to prolonging the shelf life of a product. There are a ton of great resources for these types of hacks to help creatively save and store food in your kitchen.

  • Herbs: Wrap your herbs in a damp paper towel: they will last 3x longer. Excess amounts of herbs? Put them in an ice cube tray with olive oil and freeze. Pop them out, and use whenever you need. Here are more tips for storing herbs.
  • Fruits and vegetables: A lot of fruits can be stored on the counter, such as apples and citrus. Those that need to be refrigerated are best in an enclosed container. Similarly, most veggies are best wrapped in a plastic bag or container and placed in the fridge. Most fridges conveniently have vegetable drawers to not only keep good moisture content, but also maintain separation to avoid  cross-contamination. The vegetable drawer along with the wrapping will prolong the shelf life tremendously.
  • Meats and fish: This is the most perishable and has the potential to cross-contaminate. Wrap raw meats and fish in plastic and keep them in their own drawer in the refrigerator. Given that meat and fish are so perishable, meal plan around these items to make sure they don’t go bad. Alternatively, you can freeze these items to make them last longer.

4. Control your portions: Leftovers often go to waste. Some meals are just not as delicious the next day, so more often than not, it’s left in the back of the fridge. Flash forward a week later and it’s no good. If you find yourself in this situation more often than not, when cooking, control your portions to help save on unwanted leftovers.

5. Practice mindful eating: Beyond the financial savings of not wasting food, being mindful about the value of where food comes from is a healthy practice. As we are being mindful about the recent 50th anniversary of Earth Day and how we continue to do our part for the planet, take the same approach to the food products we purchase, how we keep them, and how we prepare them. They all go hand in hand, and it’s a reminder of the planet’s health and resources.