Let's explore simple and friendly ways to waste less in your kitchen, making a positive impact on the environment and your everyday routine. Get ready to embrace eco-conscious habits and create a more sustainable kitchen space.
September 2021, UK households were estimated to waste approximately 9.5 million tonnes of food each year. Food waste, from broccoli stems to moldy cheeses, takes up more space in landfills than any other type of rubbish. Not only does it create methane and greenhouse gases, contributing to climate change, but there's also all that plastic used for packaging and transporting wasted food. And let's not forget the resources like land, water, and energy it takes to produce it all.
But here's the good news: You have the power to make a difference right in your kitchen! By reducing household food waste by just 20%, we could cut greenhouse gas emissions by a whopping 6 million tons every year. That's like taking nearly 1.2 million cars off the road for an entire year!
Not only will the environment benefit, but your wallet will thank you too. We often buy more than we need, toss out items prematurely due to misleading packaging dates, and regularly waste leftovers.
Feeling inspired to take action? Let's start making a positive change together!
Save your avocados
When it comes to avocados and other fruits that you usually buy before they're fully ripe, like pears, kiwi, mangoes, melons, and peaches, store them at room temperature until they reach their peak deliciousness. Once they're perfectly ripe, but you have more than you can devour before they go mushy, just pop them in the fridge! They'll stay fresh for up to a week or even longer.
Worried about your leftover avocado halves or quarters turning brown? Don't fret! Simply add a splash of citrus juice or a drizzle of olive or vegetable oil to the exposed fruit. The oil acts as a barrier against oxygen, keeping your avocados looking fresh and green. And don't forget to keep those pits in place if you can; they help preserve the flesh's vibrant color. Plus, here's a fun idea: You can use those pits to grow your very own avocado plant.
Freeze bananas in their skins
Got some bananas on the brink of going bad? Time to whip up some delicious banana bread. If you have more bananas than you can use, freeze them for later to toss into smoothies or your favourite baked goodies.
We know that even with the best intentions, some food waste is inevitable during meal prep. But fear not, composting comes to the rescue! Not only does it help reduce methane emissions from landfills, but it also works wonders for enriching soil health. Many local councils now collect food waste for industrial composting. If you prefer, you can get a compost bin for your garden. Simply keep a bucket with an odor-eliminating charcoal filter in your kitchen to collect food scraps until you're ready to take them out.
Curious about what goes into the compost bin? Fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, tea leaves, and coffee grounds are usually fair game (some compost systems can even handle meat and compostable packaging).
Use your nose
Did you know that dairy products are among the most-wasted foods? But before you toss that milk or yogurt when the "use by" date rolls around, give it a sniff test! If it still smells fine and no fuzziness is in sight, it's good to go. Just be sure to use it up quickly.
And here's a nifty tip: Dairy products freeze remarkably well. Before freezing hard cheese, shred it for easy use later. You can also portion yogurt, milk, and even whipped cream in ice cube trays. These frozen cubes are super convenient for adding to smoothies, topping your hot chocolate, and more.
Make the most of your freezer
Freezing is a fantastic way to cut down on food waste at home. You can store many foods in the freezer to keep them fresh for months! But to avoid food getting lost in there forever, be organized. Keep track of what's inside by maintaining a list on a dry-erase board, a piece of paper, or an electronic device. Don't forget to label each item with the date it was frozen, so you'll know when it's best to use it.
Get creative with coffee grounds
Coffee grounds have a lot to offer. You can intensify the chocolaty goodness in brownies and chocolate cakes by adding a scoop of spent coffee grounds. And guess what? Gardeners can use coffee grounds in the soil to attract earthworms that will help aerate it. Plus, why not indulge in a treat like Spent Coffee Grounds Ice Cream?
And hey, let's be mindful of the environment too. Instead of single-use coffee pods that end up in landfills, why not switch to a reusable coffee filter? It's a small change that makes a big difference!
Make kitchen cleanup eco-friendly
Did you know that single-use towels contribute significantly to the 12% of U.S. landfill space filled with paper products? We can make a positive change by switching to reusable "un-paper" towels made from cotton, bamboo, or sugar cane. These eco-friendly alternatives can be easily rinsed, wrung out, and thrown in the wash (some may need a hand wash). They are not only better for the environment but also durable and cost-effective in the long run.
If you're not ready to make the full switch, no worries! You can still be mindful of waste by composting paper towels and certain parchment papers (as long as they haven't come into contact with non-edible items).
Turn leftovers into something delicious!
We all have leftovers, be it from a cooked meal or just the odds and ends of ingredients like carrots or mushrooms. But fear not, there's a tasty solution! Keep a flexible recipe up your sleeve, like fried rice, quiche, or Use-It-Up Vegetable Soup, to transform those leftovers into a scrumptious meal.
Consider it your "fridge sweep" meal of the week, where you get creative with what you have on hand. These versatile recipes work wonders in using up those leftovers and turning them into something truly appetising.
Keep your fridge and pantry organised with the "first in, first out" approach
Here's the trick: Place the oldest foods in the front, where they're easy to spot and grab before they spoil. Keep the newer items toward the back, ensuring nothing gets forgotten and goes to waste. This way, you'll always use up the oldest products first, minimizing food waste.
For those who need a little nudge in this direction, consider creating a designated "use first" area with labeled containers for eat-now foods. This simple hack will help everyone in the family stay on track and enjoy fresh, delicious meals without waste.
By following this mantra, you'll not only save money but also create a more efficient and sustainable kitchen.
Say goodbye to plastic wrap
Instead of reaching for plastic wrap, consider using reusable beeswax wrap to wrap up your leftovers. You can also use a plate or a cloth with an elastic band to cover your dishes. And if you're ready to take it a step further, invest in a set of airtight containers with lids. These alternatives not only keep your food fresh but also reduce single-use plastic waste.
Keep your produce fresh and crisp with a simple trick
Certain veggies like celery, asparagus, and herbs rely on a vascular tissue called xylem to transport water and nutrients. You can use this to your advantage! Just store these goodies by placing their cut-ends down in a glass of water in the fridge. This little trick will keep them fresher and crisper for a longer time.
Make the most of your fridge's temperature zones
Discover the warm and cool spots inside your fridge. The door is the warmest area, making it perfect for storing condiments. On the lower shelf, you'll find the coldest section, ideal for keeping eggs, dairy products, and raw meat fresh.
Remember, heat rises, so reserve the top shelf for items that are less prone to spoiling, like jams and hummus. And don't forget about the crisper drawer—it's specifically designed to keep your produce fresh and crisp!
By using your fridge smartly and understanding its temperature variations, you'll maximize food freshness and minimize waste.