One of my biggest pet peeves is food waste. Oh my gosh! It makes me cringe when I see people throwing out perfectly good (or at least borderline good) food when they could just ya know, eat it instead. And what’s worse is that when you get down to it, it’s not hard to reduce food waste in your home.
Let’s be honest here, most of us really hate being trashy. Trashy ain’t cute. So reducing the amount of trash we create is definitely a win.
For a lot of these ideas, I’ve included links to some other awesome bloggers that have the recipes or how tos for you to start making your kitchen much more sustainable and less trashy.
Disclosure: Some of the links below may be affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you use the links. To learn more click here.
Reduce Food Waste in Your Life
Food Waste Stats
If you need a little motivation for reducing your food waste, I’ve come prepared. Here are some super important food waste statistics that will make you cringe.
Please note that these stats are not based on what corporations waste (I can’t handle those upsetting stats). No, these are based on what consumers buy and then proceed to waste.
Americans waste about 40% of the food they buy. *gasp*
And that means for the average american, you literally THROW AWAY $1,500 in food. (I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t consider this pocket change. That’s a huge chunk of an awesome vacation for me).
The average American throws out a full pound, yeah a FREAKING POUND of food every. single. day. *gross* Whaaa? To me that’s just upsetting. Not only is it bad for the environment and honestly embarrassingly gluttonous, and seriously our poor wallets.
By making the conscious decision to make less food waste, your helping yourself reach your money goals, you’re kinder to the earth, and dare I say, you might even feel better about yourself.
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How to Reduce Food Waste in Baking
Blend them up in your food processor and use them in a variety of things. I made the most AMAZING apple cranberry crisp by using a bunch of hardened snickerdoodle crumbs for my topping.
But!! be sure to write down what you do when you use up the the cookie crumbs. Because it’ll probably be amazing and then your family will ask for the recipe and if you don’t write it down you will be a disappointment.
You can also choose to add some melted butter to the crumbs and press them into a pie tin for a tasty cookie crust.
Stove top Potpourri: I guess this one isn’t really for consumption but it’s a great option when guests only give you a 30 minute notice of their arrival.
Your house will smell bomb, fresh + clean, and it will only smell like you’re perfectly domestic with the coziest apartment in town. No hours of slaving in the kitchen required.
I don’t know about you but I ditched traditional cleaning products a long time ago. Why? Because those things are ridiculously expensive! And plus, they often gave me headaches.
So I went super old-school and use vinegar for a lot of my cleaning. Sometimes I enjoy that fresh orange or lemon scent to give my apartment that fresh clean smell so infused vinegar solutions are AH-mazing!
Citrus extracts: citrus extracts are a super awesome gift to receive and super easy to make. Of course they do take a couple months to finish so make sure you plan ahead.
Candy those bad bois: We eat a lot of oranges because well oranges are delicious. And I also love to give random gifts to people. Candied citrus peels are THE way to both reduce your waste and have and easy gift to give. People love them and they’re super easy to make. But they’re one of those treats that people think are complicated because they look fancy.
Freeze it. This is my go to option. As a baker, you never know when you’re going to need just a quarter cup of cream. Plus, I have mason jars for dayzzz anyway so it’s good to give them use. 😂
Turn it into butter. For the ambitious soul who loves to do old timey things and enjoys some good old experimentation. Make it in your stand mixer with this trusty recipe.
Whip it. Homemade whipped cream is great for well…everything
make ice cream
Stale bread equals perfection:
Bread Pudding, bread crumbs, bread sticks, croutons – pick your poison. Carbs should never be wasted…only cherished.
And just because your bread is dry doesn’t mean it’s not worth eating still. You just have to get creative.
Need ideas? Brit.co has got you covered.
Reduce Your Food Waste: Cooking + Around the Home
Use those leftovers (including from restaurants)
If you have them, use them. Yes, sometimes you have to get creative with your leftovers but it’s always possible to give them a second life. Leftover recipes can actually be gloriously delicious.
A quick Pinterest search of ‘leftover *BLANK* recipe ideas’ will give you a ton of help when trying to get creative.
Feed them to your pets:
Did you know that studies have found that vegetables and greens for dogs helps reduce their risk of cancer and helps them lead healthier, longer lives? Yeah, crazy, right? So next time you some carrots, have leftover asparagus stems, or some broccoli that’s on the edge, try giving some to your pup.
Rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, and plenty of farm friends love fresh kitchen scraps too. Of course you might not all own as many furry friends as I do, (8 and counting) but it is an option if your have some.
Plants need food too. But why spend a bunch of money on environmentally damaging plant food when you can just use food waste.
Coffee grounds, eggshells, and tea leaves add a bunch of good nutrients into the soil of your plants that gets depleted over time. If you soak a banana peel in water for a day, you can water your plants with the nutrient dense banana water. Reuse that banana peel, girl!
Use yo’ bones:
Rotisserie chickens, turkeys, beef bones, even fish bones are easy to make stocks and broths.
Bone broths are amazing for you the health of your gut, skin, and hair. So essentially by reusing some kitchen scraps you’re getting free health and beauty products. You’re welcome.
Dehydrate one the edge produce
If you don’t want to freeze your produce, dehydrate it! You don’t need a fancy dehydrator, though you can buy one if you’d like to here.
Dehydrating your fruit or veggies make super awesome snacks and chips. I take them all the time when we go hiking or camping and I have an emergency jar of dried mango in the car for when hanger strikes.
Once again, Pinterest is your best friend for finding how to’s with a dehydrator or just your oven.
Utilize your ice trays
Did you buy too many herbs? I feel you. Seriously, the store gives you SO much parsley when you only need a couple sprigs. But it’s cool. Especially when you use your handy dandy eco-friendly ice trays to preserve your herbs in oil for easy cooking later.
Also, freezing some pureed fruits make smoothie packs even easier.
Freezing left over coffee makes ice coffee a breeze or hot coffee a little cooler to be able to chug for those mornings when you really need to wake up ASAP.
Check out All Recipe’s post on more ideas for your ice cube trays and save the planet!
DIY some baking products
Did you know brown sugar, powdered sugar, butter, and a bunch of other baking supplies can be DIY’ed with things you already have?
It’s true. And I wrote a super awesome post about the things you can diy at home to save you money and an emergency trip to the store. Check it out here!
Of course this one isn’t always possible depending on where you live. But honestly composting is great!
I for the life of me can’t understand what people have against green technology. Even if you choose to ignore science and think climate change is fake (seriously, it’s not, but okay), you can’t deny how economical it is to be green.
Need electricity? Why wouldn’t we harness the power of a free resource like the freaking sun?!
Need a lawn mower? Why not just get a goat to crop your grass for you? Okay, I’m kinda joking on this one but it’s an option. I’m just saying.
Need fertilizer? Why create artificial ones that are harmful to us, the environment, and are super expensive when you could literally just make your own with the food we waste?! I just don’t get it.
I’ll be honest, I’ve never successfully done this because…cats. At least my cats. They always eat super leafy plants and kill them before they can get a chance to really take root. However! The concept is amazing and an awesome way to reduce waste. I mean, who the heck wouldn’t want to buy one carrot and get 2 or even 3 out of it? What a deal!
Freeze and make some smoothies
If your produce is starting to get a like wonky, freeze it. I know that frozen produce doesn’t often thaw with a good consistency, so make yourself some freezer smoothie packs.
It’s a great way to stay healthy, make quick meals when you’re in a pinch, and you waste less produce.
Meal plan + Buy only what you need
The best thing you can do to reduce food waste is to only buy what you need. Sounds simple, right?
Meal plan and know what your plan is to eat for breakfast, second breakfast, snack, lunch, snack again, dinner, and dessert. What? That’s how everyone eats, right?
But in all seriousness. You know yourself. You know the foods you enjoy and what you don’t enjoy. And you know how much you eat on a daily basis. Plan your meals (and any snacks) and then make yourself a handy dandy grocery list.
And, now this is crucial, when you head to your grocery store….stick. to. your. list.
You’ll probably find that you’ll have a cheaper grocery budget and an easier week because you won’t have the constant struggle of “what do I want for dinner“.
Note: I mean it when I say you need to know yourself. I almost always have a freezer pizza on deck because inevitably there will be a night AT LEAST every other week, where life is super hectic or I just have a hankering for pizza. Be realistic. If you hate kale but think you need to eat it to be healthy, A. your wrong and B. you’re just asking to be wasteful. Be kind to yourself and stay realistic.
Cook only enough for your meal
If you’re one of those crazy people who hates leftovers, this one is a must.
I live for leftovers and still regularly go to my parents house to clean out the leftovers that they’re never going to enjoy. Anyone else?
But if that’s not you, learning to cook only enough for 1 meal can get tricky.
And again, it can be pretty personal. I eat very tiny dinners but huge breakfasts. I eat like a bird and snack on fruit, seeds, and candy all day long. If you’re a person who likes 3 square meals and nothing else, the amount of food you cook at one time will be different.
I can tell you though, that everyone enjoys a personal cake once in a while. Check out this Vanilla Funfetti Mug Cake recipe and let all your movie night dreams come true.
Burritos, man. They are seriously the best thing. Handheld and portable while being delicious and optionally nutritious.
A thing my fiance and I do is at the end of every week, we often throw a bunch of random stuff left over in our fridge into a tortilla, liven it up with some hot sauce, and play a mean game of backgammon while we eat.
This means that our burritos often have leftover chicken, rice, some kind of veggies (like broccoli, peas, beans, potatoes, corn, spinach, or sometimes even asparagus – which is a bit weird I admit), mushrooms, and a variety of cheeses. It’s oddly all very satisfying.
Food waste is trashy. I think we can all agree on this. Trying to reduce our food waste is a good thing. I think we can also all agree on this. It’s not hard. It is very doable. And it is very worthwhile to be doing not only for the planet but also for your budget. ($1,500 back in your budget, yo)!
And reducing that pesky food waste is easy, as I hope you can see after reading all the way up to this point. We can all reduce food waste by just being a touch more mindful of what we buy, how we store, and how we use our food.
There’s plenty of good food to go around if we could just stop throwing it away. So let’s try to start practicing that age old saying of “waste not, want not” and make life a little richer and a little less trashy.
Also if you loved this article, why not spread the love and share it! The more people who read it, the more we can all collectively reduce food waste. Sharing really is caring — about the planet!