Tips & Tricks: 10 ways to waste less food

Vegetable tray

I've been doing some hand modeling lately. That's right, these knuckles will be soon be famous. I'm the on-camera "talent" for a new kitchen company's food videos. It's awesome. I get to play around with food all day, and then I get to eat it. I'm working with a fun, talented staff of people and learning so much about the process of making videos. There's just one problem: the amount of food we throw away is painful.  

This is a theme at any company that works with food — especially food that has to be styled to look pretty on camera. We often had the same problem at Sun Basket. We regularly had Sun Basket "surprise" salads to clean out the fridge before things got tossed. 

As a food writer and blogger, I've become hyper aware of my food waste. So while I can't control what happens at big companies, I can control what I do at home, and I've been taking steps to limit how much goes into the compost. 

Since Earth Day has already passed, I wanted to post this as a reminder that every day is earth day, really. And we can all do our part. Here are 10 ways you can waste less food, starting today.



1. Before grocery shopping, check what's in your refrigerator. This is the number one way I've made a dent in my food waste. I take note of what's in the fridge and then build recipes around those items. Typically, I can make a soup or a chili out of a bunch of random, wilting vegetables and greens.

2. Shop with a grocery list. Good planning will help you avoid impulse buys — like all those alternative flours I vow to experiment with and never do before they go rancid.

3. Shop more often. Smaller, shorter trips to the grocery store will help you use up what you have before you buy more stuff.

4. Save food scraps. Fennel tops, herb stems, mushroom ends can all be thrown in the freezer and saved for when you're ready to make stock, like this one right here. Onion bottoms and celery cores can be replanted to generate more of themselves.

5. Serve yourself small portions. Food waste starts at the plate. You can always go back for seconds if you need. Then you can make another meal with leftovers (put an egg on it!) or freeze it.  

6. On that note, label all containers in your fridge and freezer. That way you'll be reminded of what's good and what you should eat before it goes bad.

7. Plant herbs in a pot by the window. Pick what you need, save the rest for later and never let them wilt in your fridge again. Here's a guide from another blogger I love.

8. Save stale bread. Stale bread makes the best breadcrumbs. 

9. Properly store everything. Greens and herbs stay fresh longer when wrapped in a wet paper towel and placed in container or sealed bag. Cheese lasts longer when wrapped in parchment paper. Flours last longer in the fridge. Here's a great guide for specifics. 

10. Ignore "use-by" or "sell-by" dates. They're only a suggestion, and only mean that the food isn't at it's peak freshness anymore. But it' doesn't mean the food is spoiled. Smell it, use your judgement and taste it to see if something is still good before tossing it. I've never paid attention to those dates and I've never gotten sick from it.