It’s wonderful when you get motivated to cook healthy meals at home. You are finally empowered to make big batches of fresh and healthy salads, soups, and snacks to munch on throughout your week. Then someone invites you out to dinner. You forget your lunch on your way to work. You get home after a long day and think, “do I really want vegetable soup again?” and begin looking at take-out menus. The salad you prepped is starting to look a little sad and wilty, and hardly appetizing. By the end of the week, most of what you prepared ends up going in the trash.
Food waste is a huge problem, not only because we end up tossing out perfectly good food, but because it means throwing our hard-earned money away. Healthy foods should nourish our bodies not go to waste!
What are good ways to cut back on food waste?
Always use a grocery list, and stick to it.
Before you even leave your house for the grocery store, check the refrigerator and pantry to see what you already have. Try using recipes in which you can incorporate these ingredients before they expire, then stay devoted to your list when you get to the store. Often it’s when we stray from our list that we end up doubling up on items we already have at home.
Use all of the fresh veggies and herbs, even if you have to get creative.
Many recipes that call for fresh herbs only use a small portion of the amount you actually buy. Consider alternative ways to use the extra herbs, such as in homemade dressings and marinades. You can also dry herbs for later use, or freeze them in oil for an easy way to toss them into sauces and soups.
Slice and portion out vegetables for easy snacking throughout the week. If vegetables or greens are getting wilted, perk them up in an ice water bath. When all else fails, place them in a bag in the freezer for future use in homemade stock.
Learn to love the freezer.
Let’s say you make a large batch of taco meat or meatballs, but you’re not sure if you’re going to be able to eat it all before the end of the week. Portion half of the meat into a freezer safe container and defrost as needed. This is also a great way to have healthy meal-starters on hand when you’re feeling lazy about cooking.
Don’t toss the little bits.
So there’s only a small half of a zucchini left or a tiny end of cheese? Use them! Toss those pieces into an egg scramble, or use that one berry that’s left in your smoothie. These small food pieces might seem like useless additions to meals due to how little of them are left, but they really add up over time.
Yes, you can use it all!
Often recipes will only call for half a can of coconut milk or tomato paste, and the remaining amount ends up becoming a science experiment in the fridge. However these are great bases for sauces and dressings, and can be used as delicious additions to meals with just a little forethought. Add curry paste and turmeric to coconut milk, and you have the start to an Indian-inspired feast. Combine tomato paste with fresh herbs and milk for a wonderful homemade pasta sauce. The possibilities are endless!
When it comes right down to it, planning ahead is the best way to combat food waste. Be aware of the foods you already have at home and get creative with new ways to use them. Not only will you help make the environment be a better place, but you will save money on nourishing your health!
[Webber, Jamie. “Cut Down on Food Waste With These 8 Tips From Meal Prep Experts.” Greatist.]