Reduce Food Waste, Save Money

by Mary Purdy, MS, RDN and Marianna Kozak, Dietetic Intern

Does your refrigerator feel more like a compost bin than food storage? Well, you’re not alone. One third of all food produced globally is wasted or lost in production every year. We know spoiled food = wasted money (and environmental waste contribution). So what’s the solution to help support our planet while also saving money? Take that food and cook it up, of course!

Where to start?

1. Find a cookbook or recipe blog that gets you excited and inspired in the kitchen.

Some of my favorites: Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair, The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre, or these creative food blogs: https://minimalistbaker.com/ , https://www.eatingbirdfood.com/

2. Inventory and organize your fridge and cupboards

Spring is a perfect time of year to reorganize and recalibrate your kitchen. Ever heard of FIFO? First in, First out! Older foods should live upfront to be used before newer foods in the back. Keeps things fresh and prevent spoilage.

Organization: Categorize foods in your fridge (i.e. condiments together, fruits together, vegetables together, etc). It helps to know what you have to decide what to cook/prepare/buy and if your fridge interior looks appealing you might find yourself more inspired to prepare something delicious.

For more tips from Marie Kondo and Martha Stewart: https://www.marthastewart.com/1524947/how-to-organize-refrigerator-inspired-marie-kondo.

3. Find recipes for lingering/inspiring foods…Cook it before it spoils!

There are so many resources to encourage culinary creations! Got some withered vegetables? No need to panic. Roast them! Or throw in a pot with water and make broth.

Broth Recipe: https://ohmyveggies.com/how-to-make-vegetable-broth-with-kitchen-scraps/

Have some eggs or pancake batter on hand? Make a veggie omelette/frittata or savory pancake. It’s hard to identify a drooping vegetable when it’s surrounded by fluffy batter. You can add those dang vegetables into anything including dessert. Combine that excess zucchini with your next apple or rhubarb crisp. Just add a touch more sweetness. No one will be able to tell.

Not sure what to do with leftover or on their way out condiments like mustard or mayo? Make salad dressings or sauces! All you need is a jar, whisk or fork?! Insert ingredients into a vessel and shake-it-up! Cheaper AND healthier than store-bought dressings with loads more flavor!

To help prevent the climate change apocalypse and set yourself up for a healthy supportive body AND budget:

Establish a pantry of non-perishables that will tie any meal together.

Stock up with:

  1. Stocks/broths
  2. Dried or canned beans, lentils, nuts, seeds
  3. Olives (kalamata are my current favorite if you’re planning to make ME dinner)
  4. Mustards, oils, vinegars- pick your favorites and experiment.
  5. Spices transform foods- buy in bulk for a fraction of the price. Not crazy about branching out? Ain’t nothing wrong with a little Salt N Pepa.
  6. Use whole grains like brown rice or quinoa to create a blank canvas that begs for flavor
  7. Root vegetables, Kale, cabbage and potatoes take longer to spoil which means more time to procrastinate, I mean, create a meal plan!

You can do this. Your wallet (and Mother Earth) thanks you. Cooking is an excellent skill to have. Your friends, family and most importantly… YOU will be grateful for the time invested and creations that emerge. Give it a try!

Sources:

http://www.fao.org/food-loss-and-food-waste/en/

http://www.fao.org/fao-stories/article/en/c/1072865/

https://www.usda.gov/oce/foodwaste/faqs.htm