The amount of food waste worldwide is enough to feed 1 billion hungry people each year.
Can you believe that statistic?! You know what the most frequently wasted food out there? Fruits and veggies. I’m constantly baffled by it and at the same time, not the least bit surprised. How many of us have a half-eaten head of lettuce in the back of the fridge going bad?
We all do, myself included. We have to do better. Whether you’re cooking for 1 or a family of 5, it’s often a challenge to cook the right amount without having a ton of waste. The trick I use is to start planning the meal(s) before I even hit the grocery store. Try these other tips to help you reduce the amount of food waste you create, and check out my recipe below for an easy meal using items you likely have extra of in your pantry!
1. Take stock of what you already have.
So many spices and veggies and sauces get stuck in the back of the pantry or the fridge. Before heading to the grocery store, check out your recipe and make sure you aren’t duplicating any ingredients.
2. Make a list.
There are a few sites out there that will adjust an online recipe for different servings. A yummy dinner for one will obviously require a lot less food than feeding a family of 5. Know your audience, and adjust accordingly.
3. Prepare for leftovers.
Similarly to #2, if you know you’ll have leftovers of either your recipe or ingredients (you didn’t use the entire bag of carrots, for example), make a plan for those leftovers. A simple way to do this is to designate one day each week as a “cleanout meal”. Chop any extra veggies from recipes throughout the week, roast them up with some garlic, oil, and whatever spices you like. You can serve them over a bed of rice with any leftover meat or plant protein.
4. Shop wisely.
For things like veggies, shop the loose section instead of pre-packaged and bagged foods. This way, when you’re shopping for a recipe that calls for 2 tomatoes, you’re not bringing home the whole bag of 6. Shopping the bulk section of dry goods (like rice) is another great way to make sure you’re getting exactly what you need. Those scoops are generally exactly 1 cup!
5. Last purchased, first in.
When you bring your groceries home, move older things to the front and slip in the new stuff in the back. This way, older foods closer to perishing will be front and center, and easily accessible. No one wants to open the fridge to find a rotten pineapple dripping all over the back shelf.
If you can’t use it, you can at least keep your food scraps from heading to the landfill by tossing it in the compost instead. If you’re in a small space, there are loads of cute countertop compost bins and you can usually drop off your compost at your local municipal waste center. If you have more space, the countertop bin is a great way to collect waste and then take it out to a larger compost bin in your backyard. Find one that is self-turning so you don’t need to get in there with a spoon. Save yourself that yucky experience.
When you think about it, and really choose consciously at the store, it’s not too difficult to drastically reduce your household food waste. Even if you simply choose to compost your coffee grounds or sprinkle them in your garden (they keep bugs and critters away!), every little step helps. If you need a little help getting started with a no-waste week, try out this recipe below. It’s full of healthy, yummy foods and is great hot for dinner or cold for lunch leftovers the next day.
Veggie Rice Bowl
1 cup of jasmine rice
1 box of extra firm tofu, cut in small chunks
2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce or tamari
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 heads of broccoli
Salt and pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes, optional
- Preheat oven to 375°, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Cook rice according to directions on the package. Generally 1 cup of rice to 1 ¼ cups water. Boil water, add rice, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
- In a large bowl, mix tofu and broccoli with soy sauce and nutritional yeast.
- Toss tofu and broccoli on the baking sheet and cook for about 30 minutes.
- Turn off the oven and let the pan sit for 15 minutes. (Important. This makes the tofu yummy and crunchy.)
- Scoop rice into a bowl, top with cooked tofu and broccoli.
- Sprinkle salt & pepper to taste and red pepper flakes, if using.
Photos by: Amy Hulst