Cutting down on food waste

For 2021 one of my goals is to waste less food.

I’m sure we’ve all been there. You purchase something from the grocery store and you just don’t get around to eating it on time. It goes stale, or it goes bad and inevitably winds up in the trash.

When I throw out food I feel like I’m throwing cash directly into the garbage. To be quite honest, I’m not a huge fan of doing such. So, one of my main goals for 2021 is to waste less food. I want to eat what I buy and I want to minimize trash made.

Here are some steps I am taking to help combat my own personal food waste:

Only buying what I eat. It sounds more simple then it is. When things are on sale, when things are a good deal, or when I tell myself that I’m boring and I need to ‘change it up’, I often wind up with things in my cart that I don’t want and won’t eat. If it’s not something i eat regularly, I’m not going to buy it on a whim. Odds are, it’ll go bad while I’m deciding whether or not to make it.

Utilizing my freezer. Things like vegetables can be frozen when they’re reaching close to their expiry date. If I don’t make it to those carrots in time, I’m going to freeze them. If I don’t make it to that cole-slaw mixture in time, I’m going to freeze it. If I don’t eat that spinach in time, it’s going in the freezer to. All of these things can then be baked, cooked into fried rice, or put in smoothies.

Using scraps to make broth. Utilizing broth is actually incredibly healthy for you. And, when you have the power to control what goes into it and what doesn’t, you can make it healthier than that you’d find on a store shelf. When I cut the ends off my veggies or take the bones out of my meat, it’s being turned into a broth. Broths can be used for soups and stews, or you can use them as a replacement for water when making rice.

Composting. Composting is something I think everyone should take part in. That’s my own personal bias, but it’s just so easy. If you have a yard, you can compost in your yard. If you live in the city like I do, check google for local composting options. Even if you don’t have a yard, or a composting option, if you have indoor plants, doing something so small as adding your egg-shells to the soil of any potted plants you might have. There’s so much calcium in egg-shells that the shells can help your plants thrive. The neighbourhood that I live has a composting program where we provide all of our compost and they use it ground up in the soil they use for the flowerbeds each year.

Utilizing stale food. This sounds silly at first glance. Truthfully though, there are a lot of ways to utilize something that might be a little too stale for you to just grab and eat as is. For me, if a cereal is stale, I’ll put it in my yogurt. It doesn’t taste stale when you put it in yogurt like you would granola. I have a bad habit of eating half of a protein bar and then leaving the other half until it’s stale. In that case, I’ve realized that I can blend it into little bits and mix it into the muffins I make for myself. Stale chips and pretzels make great coating for chicken.

Speaking of blenders… if you have an immersion blender… like a Vitamix or a Ninja blender… you can actually blend the peels of fruits directly into smoothies. Banana peel or apple peel… the blender is powerful enough to just blend it into the smoothie so that you don’t even know it’s there. Not all blenders are powerful enough to blend in the peels. But, if you have one that is, the added nutrients you’ll get from those peels is worth testing. If you can get past how weird it is to think you’re consuming a banana peel.

Air Fryers make great leftovers. I got an air fryer for a Christmas present last month. One thing I’ve noticed about the air fryer is that it heats leftovers evenly and doesn’t make them rubbery like a microwave can often do. I use my air fryer for a lot of leftovers, and I highly recommend it to anyone who owns an air fryer.,

Not buying single serve food containers from the grocery store. This one isn’t really to do with food waste, more to do with packaging waste. I don’t like those individually wrapped sandwiches or single use packages of side dishes at the grocery store. They’re usually 2-4 times more expensive then if you were to just buy the item individually and make it, and there’s so much packaging. Packaging that, because it’s been holding messy food, likely will never get recycled. I’d rather get bread and ham and lettuce/spinach for $4.00 and make twelve sandwiches than buy one pre-made sandwich that’s $4.99 or more with clunky packaging that goes right into the trash after ten minutes.

I know there are many more ways to cut down on food waste and I know that I’m definitely not perfect. What are some ways that you cook/eat to ensure you use as much of the food as you buy as possible? How do you minimize food waste? And if you don’t already do any steps towards minimizing food waste, do you think it might be something you consider in the future?

68 thoughts on “Cutting down on food waste

  1. I think one of the best investments I’ve made that helps me reduce our food waste is my panini maker – any stale bread, leftover wraps, anything bread – goes in with some cheese or whatever you have in the fridge and becomes a delicious hot lunch. Definitely one of the perks of working from home.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Ooooh! I’ve never owned a panini maker, but I do reckon that having one would help with any stale carbs that might be laying around the house. I know owning a lot of small appliances can get expensive, but if you get the right appliances, it goes to show you can get a lot of value from them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes that’s true – we don’t own a lot of little ones, just the kettle, toaster, microwave and this. I like it because it doesn’t have a catch you have to close, you just leave the lid down so it gets to work. Silver may or may not have broken two previous toastie makers because she’s filled it so full the catches broke. Maybe. XD

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    1. It is about habits! It’s so easy to just throw veggie scraps and other things in the trash because there’s a trash in every kitchen. It seems simple, right? But with things that are fully compostable, making that effort to build that habit is so valuable!

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      1. Coffee grindings, banana skins and egg shells are the things I’m currently focussing on – did you know that if you polish the leaves of your indoor plants with banana skins it is like magic? My plants have never looked so good – then I just toss them into a compost heap in the garden. The eggshells and grounds I just comb into my garden soil … hugely valuable in micro nutrients

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    1. You are so right! I’m not a big consumer of beans, but to those who are, the liquid beans are cooked in can be reach in all sorts of nutrients that are great to make broth in, or even just to use as the base for a soup!

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  2. Lots of great ideas. I hate food waste too and I really hate all the packaging. How in hell did we manage before plastic, you wonder! But we did. It’s one of my pet peeves. My personal eating habits are pathetic, so I buy the same old thing and none gets wasted, but no normal person would eat as I do!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Honestly, what happened before plastic? I’m curious. It’s become such a convenience that people really don’t know how to live without it.

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      1. Things were wrapped in newspaper/brown paper and in cardboard boxes. You bought things like sugar from a big jar decanted into small paper bags….basically paper all round. In SE Asia even now they use banana leaves to wrap stuff.

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  3. Good tips and a fantastic goal. I’m always reluctant to buy salad fixings because I’ve long joked that my crisper is where vegetables go to die.
    If you want more tips, a former colleague of mine from my working days is a chef who has many talk show segments under his belt. His name is Joel Gamoran and even did a show called Scraps that Katie Couric produced after some of their segments together on the Today Show. Not every idea was great for me, but it’s amazing the ideas he came up with! Might be a fun way to expand on your goal or keep you on track. 😊

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I have one of the Ninja Nutribullet blenders and it constantly blows my mind how much that thing pulverizes. It literally doesn’t matter what foods you throw in there, when it’s done, it’s pure liquid. I mean… I haven’t tried steak or anything like that… can’t imagine that’d be too good. But fruits (with the peels), nuts, veggies… it puts the smooth in smoothie.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh yeahhhhh
      Your comment is making me miss have an expensive/powerful blender.
      I just have a $30 one right now, it can barely crush frozen berries.
      A good blender, they go a long, long way.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love this, especially that you’ve included a game plan to make it a reality and not left it as just some blurry resolution. Good luck. I’m going to do my best to follow your plan.

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  6. V, never go grocery shopping when you are hungry. If you want to eat healthier foods stick to the outside aisles. It is in those aisles where you find fruits, vegetables, yogurts, and other healthy foods.
    If you want to save money on meats buy the larger pack. When you get home take the time to sort them into meal size portions, place in a zip lock bag and freeze.
    Bulk Barns are great for dried banana chips, dates, and even snacks. Careful though for sometimes they are not always the cheaper way to shop.
    These are some things I have learned along the way in my life.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I miss Bulk Barn. I used to get all of my pantry/snack stuff from Bulk Barn. Haven’t really been going due to the pandemic. Even if they’re more expensive per gram, you can choose how many grams you get, and I always liked that.

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  7. There is a lot of nutrition in eggshells too. I recommend blending those and adding them to smoothies for the extra calcium and minerals. The banana peel hack is new to me – that I didn’t know! 🍌

    I try to buy products that are loaded with nutrition and don’t expire right away. Like chia seeds for instance. I buy the big bags so it lasts a very long time and cuts down on trash. You can get a lot of breakfasts using chia seeds and plant milks (chia seed pudding). Overnight oats is another winning recipe. I buy large batches of oats too because they keep a very long time.

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      1. Yeah, I think I’ll have to try egg shells for myself to see. That sounds a little odd… but it could just be because I’ve never seen it before.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s not the weirdest thing I’ve done. I used to make homemade supplements using gelatin capsules as well as weight loss capsules using spices from my pantry.

        I found that not only do egg shells work well for supplements, but they can be directly added to smoothies. I recommend blending at high speed because the texture might be a bit sandy/grainy otherwise. You get used to the texture though. Yes, egg shells actually blend 😂

        Liked by 2 people

    1. I love Chia Seeds because you can add them to so much and it’s like they’re not even there. Such a good choice for keeping in the pantry. Also, I love overnight oats.

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  8. For the last couple of years we have been pretty strapped for money, so had to become a lot more careful with buying food. We draw up a menu for the week (written on a chalk board in the kitchen), and buy groceries to make the stuff on the menu. It works surprisingly well, and nobody raids the fridge because it will ruin a planned meal. We’ve ended up buying most of our greens, etc from farm shops that deliver too – which has turned out to be just as good a value as the supermarket.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Meal planning is such an obvious one that I skipped and completely blanked on. It sounds like you guys are making meal plans in order to buy your groceries accordingly. If that helps you guys go through all of your food and spend less on food, I’m not surprised. That sounds like a win-win, really. Do you guys have lots of farms nearby? It’s easy to do stuff like that in summer round here, but in winter, you can’t really get local anything.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Several cafes in town turned themselves into produce suppliers after lockdown happened last spring, so we started ordering produce from them. We rotate through a couple of places. There is a farm shop nearby too – and they started deliveries to combat lockdown too.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I love the tips! It’s actually in one of my life’s bucket list– practicing a healthy zero waste lifestyle if I ever get the chance to when I graduate and I think I might cling on to some of your tips here because I think a lot of the waste we produce mostly come from the food we choose to purchase if not, it’s packaging. Thanks for sharing! xx

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh, when you’re living in your own home it’s so much easier to make meaningful changes. It’s not impossible if you’re living with people, but it’s a lot harder. The past few years I’ve been on a mission to make less trash all around. I’ve done away with almost all single use products out of my life (I can’t say all becausethere’s still a couple I keep… like feminine products). When I was living with people, making changes was a lot harder. I think after you graduate you’ll be able to do much more if you really want to.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. A couple of my things, that may be relevant here : If you have a dog, you’ll practically never have food to throw away, because most dogs will eat anything! But make sure you adjust the amount of their main meal accordingly.
    Also, when you make muffins, put any you don’t eat right away in the freezer, and then when wanted, reheat them, air fryer, microwave, or low oven, and they taste almost ‘just baked’ again.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ohhhhhh I wish I could have a dog.
      My parents dog literally finishes all of their food for them. So handy and dogs are not picky. lol
      Thanks for the great suggestions! I’ve never put muffins in the freezer, but they never last that long!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Haha, my muffins get gobbled down too quickly, when/if I make them. But my husband and I are trying to lose a bit of weight, so it would be best to either not make any, or hide them away in the freezer, else we ruin our good intentions!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s a YouTube channel called ‘Pro Home Cooks’ that you should check out. Mike, the guy who runs the channel does 5 different videos for 25 things that can be cooked in an air fryer. They’re so helpful for determining what does and doesn’t work in your air fryer.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. These are great tips! I’m trying to do the same. I’m vegan so all the veggies I eat go bad very quickly. I’ve finally learned that I can’t buy in bulk. No matter what’s on sale, I have to go grocery shopping once a week and eat what I buy. I’m definitely going to try these tips. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, being vegan makes it more difficult to buy in bulk. I completely understand that. Veggies are so much more perishable than all other foods!

      I have a question for you. Something I’ve always wondered, if you know, why aren’t marshmallows and jello vegan? Someone once told me gelatin isn’t vegan. I guess I don’t know what gelatin is? This is probably the stupidest line of question you’ve ever heard hahahahaha

      Liked by 1 person

      1. LOL! It’s actually not. Gelatin is made from animal skin, bone or ligaments. I’ve never thought about marshmallows but I think what makes them gooey is the same concept.

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    1. Damn proud. In British Columbia, where I’m from, throwing away food that can be composted is against the law and you can get charged $5,000 per occasion. Everyone composts in BC.

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  12. Awesome! You are like me. I buy in bulk canned and boxed. I make my own jerky and trail mix that I vacuum pack with a sealing food machine my daughter bought me. As I prepare for whatever is ahead, I know I can stay in my apt for extended period of time and not do without! Being properly prepared is everything

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a catch 22. Sometimes you cannot help it… Sometimes things go bad too quickly. But if you can help it, it’s worth while of trying to save it and eat it.

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  13. I definitely want to cut down on food waste. I never thought of blending peels from fruit, or heating leftovers in an airfryer, but that all sounds great! Composting also sounds like something I can do! Xx

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  14. Bread is my enemy. The loaves made in-store seem to mold the day after their sell-by date and you can’t do a whole lot with moldy bread. I always toss the bread outside. It’s not really preventing waste or saving money, but I like to think the critters outside enjoy whatever I toss out.

    Plus, a long time ago I tried to take abandoned cans of pop around the house (thanks to the kids!) and ferment it into alcohol. It didn’t work nearly like I’d hoped!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember Bread being awful when I used to eat bread.
      Tossing it outside is, in a form, composting. So that’s not awful. Since gluten is my enemy, I don’t really have to deal with that anymore.

      Fermenting pop sounds like an interesting experiment. How’d that go?

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  15. The broth tip wasn’t something I was aware of! Will definitely be stealing that. I definitely feel you on not wanting to have food going to waste, and thanks for the great ideas!

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    1. Broth has so many benefits! And if you make it yourself you skip all of the preservatives they put in it when they put it on shelves at the store. The thing about broth though is you need to freeze it. Because there are no preservatives, you need to freeze it right up until the day you use it. Good luck with making it! I hope it turns out.

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  16. Some great tips there! I live in Germany and the recycling/composting here is amazing, in true German fashion. You don’t pay for plastic, paper or food waste, so I get crazy about recycling to reduce general waste as much as possible 😛

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    1. Oh, I wish we had an amazing recycling/composting program. Vancouver, Canada does. I would say Vancouver is leading the country. The rest of the country needs to catch up, though. I love it when people are passionate about recycling. It sounds silly, but it makes me happy that you care, when people in general care. Thank you for sharing.

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  17. It is sometimes very hard to stick to a resolution to eat only what you need. We are bombarded with fast food chains and mouthwatering advertisements. It takes real effort to remain limited to minimalism when it comes to eating!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Truth. Those commercials are specifically made for you to want it and for you to want more of it after you’ve already gotten it. And they succeed!

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