We’ve all done it. You buy a carton of milk or a bag of onions with the intent of using them within the next few days. But suddenly it’s three weeks later, they’ve gone bad and you wind up having to toss them in the trash. Stop all that kitchen waste with these simple tips.
All too often the reason foods go to waste is simply that we forget about them, and they get old before we get a chance to put them to use. To prevent this, think of your fridge and pantry as shelves at the grocery store. When the store gets a new shipment of milk in, the manager doesn’t put the fresh product at the front and let the old stuff spoil in the back. Instead, he places the new milk at the back of the store and lets the older product get purchased before replenishing the fridge with the new bags. Your kitchen can work in a similar manner. When you get home from the store, make an effort to put the fresh products at the backs of the shelves or bottoms of the drawers, and set the older items in full view. That way, when you open the fridge door, those older items will catch your eye first, and you’ll think to use them up before they expire.
The best thing you can do to avoid food waste is to check your refrigerator on a regular basis. Every two to three days, take a moment to jot down which products are looking a little worse for wear and need to be used as soon as possible. Some products, such as condiments, need to be checked only every month or so. But other items, such as produce, meats and dairy products, need to be carefully watched over.
Know your backups
Every once in a while you’ll open your fridge door and discover certain items aren’t as fresh-looking as you might have hoped. That’s when having backup plans can come in handy. For example, those browning mushrooms may not be ideal for the salad you had planned, but they won’t show their age at all when cooked into a delicious frittata. And those spotted bananas might not keep in your lunch bag but will be perfect when frozen and blended into a creamy smoothie. It’s disappointing to not be able to use an item in the way you had planned, but when you have some secondary ideas in your back pocket, you may wind up creating something even better!
Use the ends
There are certain products we buy for a specific use and then wind up throwing out the rest because we aren’t sure what to do with it. Some examples are when we cut the florets off broccoli and then toss the stems or chomp down on a jar of pickles and then pour the vinegar juice down the drain. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Those broccoli stems can be boiled to create a homemade vegetable stock, and that vinegar can be mixed with a few scoops of mayonnaise to make a tasty salad dressing. So the next time you go to toss food “waste” in the garbage, ask yourself whether you might have use for it after all.
Though you may do your best to not let produce expire and to use every bit of the items, you still may wind up with bits that have nowhere to go. Give them a place to be productive by creating your own compost! A compost means that rather than having old food head to a landfill to decompose, it gets turned into dirt that then gives the plants in and around your house energy to grow. Now that’s a waste-free kitchen!