A kitchen is a great place for cooking, eating and spending time with friends and family. It can also be a place with a lot of waste. But there are ways to eliminate some of that. Here are a few of our favorite ideas for reducing waste in the kitchen:
- Growing your own herbs, fruits and vegetables sometimes makes less waste because you don’t pick them until you’re ready to eat. On the other hand, you can also end up with way too much of something, so be sure you have a plan to give food away to friends, family or coworkers or can or freeze items so they stick around longer.
- Declaring war on wasted food is easier if you know what’s in your fridge. Instead of just shoving things in there haphazardly, do your best to make sure items are sorted and visible. This will help prevent buying duplicate items you don’t really need just because you thought you were out. Also, if you put items with a limited life or those about to expire in a high visibility location, you’ll be less likely to forget about them and more likely to eat them before they’re past the point of no return.
- If you’re making a recipe that calls for an unusual ingredient you know you’re never going to use again, see if there’s an appropriate substitute already in your kitchen. That way, you won’t end up tossing half a container of some obscure food.
- Invest in quality containers. Instead of using zipper baggies, plastic wrap, aluminum foil or plastic containers that need to be replaced every so often, purchase some good quality glass containers with lids. Not only do these last longer, they also make things easier in the kitchen because they’re safe to use in the oven and microwave. You can mix, cook, store and reheat all in the same container, which means fewer dishes to wash as well.
- Rotten food can still be useful. In an ideal world, you wouldn’t ever get rid of uneaten food, but there are times when it’s unavoidable. For those situations, make sure the food still goes to good use by starting a backyard compost pile. There are many options available, from building your own to buying an already assembled unit. There are even kitchen pails with built-in filters to minimize the smell. You can use one to store your food scraps until you’re ready to take them out to the backyard.
- Ditch the extra packaging. Eliminate as much packaging as you can by buying items in bulk instead of in smaller, individually wrapped containers. Instead of stocking your kitchen with bottled water, invest in a water dispenser, a filter for the tap or a filtered water pitcher for the fridge.
- Give recycling star billing. Put a large recycling container front and center in your kitchen. Hide a smaller trash can under the sink. This will encourage you and your family members to see recycling as the first choice and only trash those items that can’t be recycled or composted.
- Utilize the freezer. Do you ever have an abundance of leftover soup or spaghetti sauce you can’t possibly eat before it goes bad? Try freezing your leftovers in freezer-friendly storage instead of keeping them in the fridge. There are many resources online that explain what kinds of foods can be stored in the freezer and for how long. It doesn’t work for every kind of food—trust us when we say you don’t want to try freezing eggs or cucumbers. You’ll be amazed at how much less you’ll throw out by storing leftovers in the freezer.
We challenge you to try some of these tips and hope they make a positive difference. Let us know what you think!