Food Waste Reduction at Home

In this era of Covid-19, it is making my stomach ache to see thousands of gallons of milk poured drown drains and piles of squash and tomatoes rotting in the fields. I can't imagine how those farmers feel. And meanwhile, thousands of people are standing in lines to get boxes of food. The huge lack of food supply coordination is tragic, and makes me furious and sad. When I realize I can't control these horrible situations, I turn to my own home and habits. What can I do in MY KITCHEN? Can I reduce waste? Can I create an efficient supply chain running through my refrigerator. The answer, thankfully is YES. Below find some tips and habits I have slowly incorporated into my weekly routines in the kitchen. And hopefully, after this virus tragedy has run its course, these habits will STICK. By the way, don't get overwhelmed. Pick one thing and start until you feel it is something you can regularly do for you and your family.

Package any leftover food so you can see it. Put it at eye level in the fridge. Out of sight, out of mind.

If you make too much, freeze it after a few days, or even right away. Label it with the date and contents. 

If you forget what's in your freezer like I do, keep some containers at the ready to fill with that extra bit of stew or pasta and take it to your neighbor.


MAKE BROTH Save chicken bones or carcass in the freezer, and save veggie scraps in a large ziplock in th fridge. Once a week, put them in a large stock pot, fill with water, add some salt and herbs, and simmer for an hour and half. Strain into jars of containers and use all week for soups, rice, pastas, etc.

CONVERT IT Think about meals as a structure. The same meat and veg can be used in different 'vehicles.' The other night I made shrimp and grits, and had leftover shrimp with bacon. Today I am putting the shrimp and bacon into small flour tortillas and topping with shredded cheese, lettuce, and my favorite tacos. Other meal formats:

Scrambled Eggs/Frittata/Egg Cups
Stir Fry with Noodles

Use a mini food processor to make dips and salsas. Add leftover veg, raw or cooked, to the processor with some plain yogurt and fresh herbs, and you have a creamy dip. Add veg to a can of black beans with some water, and you have a yummy bean dip. 

If veggies are starting to turn, slice into fun, similar sizes and pack into a mason jar. Simmer a mixture of half vinegar/half water with a bit of salt and sugar, let cool, and pour into jar. Seal tight, and chill in fridge for a couple hours and you have instant pickles! Try adding garlic and herbs, too.

Use day old bread to make bread pudding. Soak cubes for 30 minutes in a mixture of eggs, milk, sugar and a bit of vanilla. Add nuts and fruit if you'd like. Bake off and top with a butter rum sauce. Or cut or tear day old bread into small pieces, toss with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt, then bake on a sheet for 20 minutes at 250 for croutons that will last for days.