20 Kitchen hacks to reduce food waste and save money

Jan 5, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. ET

Reducing food waste doesn't just help the environment; it reduces your grocery bill too. The EPA gives plenty of good advice on reducing food waste, but what about preserving the foods you already have?

1. Get every last drop

20 money-saving kitchen hacks

Image: arsheffield/Flickr//This Creative Commons image was modified from its original version.

Use a juicer or a pair of tongs to squeeze every last drop of juice out of lemons, limes and other citrus.

2. Stay green

avocado halves with onion

Image: Jon Chiang/Flickr

Keep leftover avocado halves green by storing them with a cut onion to keep them from browning for one to two days. The sulfur compounds in the onion prevents oxidation.

3. Stay cheesy

cheese in wax paper

Image: winestyr/Flicker//Cheese and wine were cropped from a larger scene.

Wrap cheese loosely in waxed paper before putting it back in the plastic packaging, and only partially seal the plastic. This prevents ammonia and bacteria from being trapped and keeps your cheese from absorbing chemicals and odors from the packaging.

4. Dress it up

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Add oil, vinegar, herbs and spices to a near-empty mayo jar, and shake vigorously for an impromptu salad dressing that gets every last bit of the mayo.

5. Take stock

chicken stock cubes in a baggie

Image: regan76/Flickr

If you don't use all the stock in the can, don't toss it. Pour it into ice cube trays in 1- or 2-tablespoon increments (whatever your tray fits) to use on the fly. When they're frozen, toss them into a freezer baggie for easier storage.

6. Ms. Freeze

chili in a bowl

Image: Michael W. May/Flickr

Freeze leftover chili and soups by lining the bottoms of the bowls you eat from with plastic wrap and pouring the chili in. Once it's frozen solid, pull it out of the bowls, and store it in a freezer bag in individual servings — it will fit right back in your bowl.

7. Keep the greens

carrot greens

Image: woodleywonderworks/Flickr

Instead of discarding the green tops of carrots, beats and radishes, use them in stir-fries, pestos or even as stand-alone sides.

8. Burst of flavor

herb-buttered popcorn

Image: chotda/Flickr

Before your herbs go bad, chop them up, and mix them with butter or olive oil. Place the mixture in ice cube trays, and once they're frozen, place them in a freezer bag. Use them to sauté onions, season popcorn or steamed veggies, or defrost to spread on toast.

9. Crisp and fresh

variety of lettuce on towels

Image: Wally Hartshorn/Flickr

Break romaine lettuce or similar greens into well-washed and dried leaves, and store them in a baggie or sealable container wrapped in a dry paper towel to suck up lettuce-killing moisture. Replace the paper towel as needed.

10. Transform it

fresh croutons before baking

Image: ampresco/Flickr

Don't toss stale bread. Turn it into homemade croutons!

11. Be a good egg

eggs in a bowl

Image: cobalt123/Flickr//This image was cropped from the original.

Don't toss eggs because you're not sure. Find out if they're fresh by floating them gently in a bowl of water. The ones that sink are still fresh.

12. She's got legs

onions

Image: Chiot's Run/Flickr

Store onions and garlic in unused knee-high stockings to keep them fresher.

13. Besties

apples and potatoes

Image: tandteacake/Flickr

Store apples and potatoes together to prevent the latter from sprouting.

14. Keep it soft

brown sugar

Image: allieatfood/Flickr

Toss a few marshmallows in with brown sugar to keep it from getting hard or to soften it.

15. Use every bit

leftover veggie risotto

Image: justinhenry/Flickr

When you're cutting peppers, potatoes, tomatoes and more, instead of tossing the ends and other edible bits that don't measure up to the current dish, cut them into dice-size pieces, and freeze them to use in a quick pasta, omelet or rice dish during the week.

16. No glove, no love

bananas

Image: Fernando Stankuns/Flickr

Wrap the stem of a bunch of bananas in plastic wrap to keep them fresher longer.

17. Water of life

asparagus

Image: itsjustanalias/Flickr

Herbs, green onions and asparagus all benefit from being stored root- or stem-end down in water. Cover the exposed ends if necessary, and store in the fridge.

18. Nip the tip

celery

Image: Daveybot/Flickr

Trim the leafy tops off your celery to keep them fresher. But save those leaves for a tasty salad add-in.

19. Get toasty

crackers

Image: elana's pantry/Flickr

Stale chips or crackers? Refresh them in the microwave or oven.

20. Special dark

empty nutella jar

Image: owlgray/Flickr

Don't throw out that Nutella jar! Warm a little milk, pour it into the jar (with a little cinnamon or nutmeg if you want), screw the cap back on, and shake vigorously to make a hazelnut-flavored hot cocoa.

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