“Mom, something has died in the fridge!” my tween daughter hollers as she quickly slams the refrigerator door closed.
“Must be time to clean out the crisper,” I mutter. The fate of many vegetables that land in our crisper is pre-destined. For one reason or another, this spot in our refrigerator is where our vegetables go to die. Along with the rotten vegetables, we throw our money into the garbage bin too. We aren’t the only family facing a bin full of food waste. Studies show that Canadians waste approximately 31 million pounds of food a year – about 50% of which is wasted at home.
Reducing kitchen waste is one of my family’s household goals. In the past we've found ways to use leftover coffee grounds in our garden and we’ve also found ways to reduce our water consumption at home. So looking for ways to further reduce our kitchen waste is the logical next step.
Using these tips that we follow will help your family keep food out of the landfill and ultimately, save you money.
You can't waste what you don't have. Making a grocery list and sticking to it is one of the first steps to reducing kitchen waste. Plan out the week’s meals in advance and generate the shopping list based on the meals you plan to make. Once you have a list in hand, it's important to stick to it. Impulse shopping is tricky in a grocery store. It's easy to be tempted by new products and interesting looking packaging. How many times do you unpack the groceries at home and think "who picked up this box of ranch flavoured cracker potato chip popcorn?" Make a list and stick to it. Don’t deviate from that list and you will save time and money at the grocery store.
One person’s food scrap is another person’s veggie stock. There are many ways to use the peels, stalks, and skin we typically toss. Citrus peels in a jar of vinegar make an amazing all-purpose cleaner. Veggie scraps can be frozen and used to make veggie stock. Bones from turkeys and chickens can be used to make stock. Stale bread becomes croutons for a salad. Think before you throw those scraps in the trash.
The word “compost” scares many people. Yet, composting can have a profound impact on reducing kitchen waste. Municipalities across Canada have implemented curbside organics pickup to encourage the diversion of food waste from landfills to compost facilities. However, the vision of a stinky, leaky bag of rotting food is not very appealing. We’ve been using the Canadian-made Greenlid compost containers in our kitchen and it’s changing how we compost.
The rigid bin takes the fear of a ripped bag out of the picture – so there's no more fear over taking the compost out. No more leaking, no more rotting smell, and the Greenlid bin is totally compostable – which means we fill it and toss it into the city’s curb side compost bin. Although the Greenlid is a little more pricey than regular green recycling bags, it's more convenient, it can be reused, and is a great eco choice!
We have a fruit bowl that sits on our kitchen counter filled with all sorts of lovely fruit. At the beginning of the week, everyone happily devours the fruit and as the days go by, the fruit loses its appeal (pun intended). Enter the food dehydrator. Almost anything can be dehydrated. Dried fruit makes a healthy addition to granola, cookies, and is delicious eaten on its own. We even use our food dehydrator to make fruit leather.
Who doesn’t love a big pot of soup? Soup is an amazing way to use up all the veggies that have been neglected in the crisper. Throw all of those almost spoiled veggies into a pot with some stock and you have soup. Make it fun for the kids and add some pasta alphabet letters to the soup and fill a thermos for school lunches.
When food is stored properly, it tastes better, lasts longer, and you're much more likely to eat it. Leftovers stay fresher longer when they're stored in airtight containers. Cold temperatures can alter the taste of produce like tomatoes. Extend the life of leafy greens by wrapping them in damp paper towels and storing greens in a resealable bag. Don’t be afraid to freeze fruit and vegetables, leftovers, and soups. The freezer is another powerful tool in reducing food waste.
Yes, a pantry is filled with non-perishable items – so what does a pantry have to do with food waste. A well-stocked pantry is one of the most important resources in the kitchen. A full pantry opens your cooking options. Having items like canned beans, nuts, pasta, and rice on hand will bring all of your perishable foods to life. If your pantry is bare, you're much more likely to order take out and leave those lonely veggies to die in the crisper. Like I once did!
Managing kitchen waste is an achievable goal for busy families. With a little planning, the right supplies and a little imagination, it is possible to save money and divert kitchen waste from landfills.