5 Tips for Fighting Food Waste While Sheltering in Place
Individual actions matter in the global fight to end food waste.
If every San Diegan saved just one pound of food from going to waste each month, in one year, San Diego County would save 40 million pounds of food from going to landfill. The greenhouse gas emission reductions would equal the carbon savings of nearly 600,000 tree seedlings grown for 10 years! (Source)
We’ve compiled five of our favorite food-waste-fighting tips that can be especially helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Minimize grocery trips with proper storage
- Maximize shelf life by befriending the freezer
- Get more from your purchases by using the “scraps”
- Swap this for that
- When life gives you lemons… save the peels!
1) Minimize grocery trips with proper storage
Storing food properly keeps groceries fresh and tasty for as long as possible, which means less trips to the store. Use the storage tips below to stretch your produce farther.
- Store herbs like parsley and cilantro in a jar of water in the fridge.
- Store potatoes and onions separately to avoid sprouting.
- Use your humidity drawers effectively: Set one to high-humidity for storing veggies, and the other to low-humidity for storing fruits.
- Place pieces of paper towel (or reuse-able dish towels) into salad green containers and berry containers to absorb moisture and prevent bacteria/mold from growing.
- Move bananas, peaches, apples, and avocados from the counter to the fridge to slow ripening.
2) Befriend your freezer and maximize shelf life!
We’ve been developing some major appreciation for the freezer these days. After all, the freezer is a pretty magical tool—it’s essentially a pause button for your food. Below are some helpful tips for putting that magic to good use.
- Chop veggies and blanch them to store for months in the freezer.
- Freeze grains in small portion sizes for quick and easy meal additions.
- When freezing liquids like soup, allow for some extra space in the container because the liquid will expand when frozen.
- You can freeze dairy products like milk, cheese, butter, and yogurt. Remember to remove some liquid from the container before freezing. Thaw in the fridge.
- Store sliced bread in the freezer to prolong shelf-life. You can toast your slice directly from frozen.
- Interested in learning about what other food you can freeze? Spoiler alert (no pun intended): You can freeze pretty much anything! Here’s our favorite freezing guide.
3) GET MORE FROM YOUR PURCHASES BY USING THE “SCRAPS”
Many food parts that we consider “scraps” are actually totally usable. We’re finding ways to get more out of our food purchases by using up every part. Whip up a whole new dish with an ingredient you may have previously thrown out. Or, get another use out of your scraps before they get tossed, like simmering veggie scraps to make soup broth. It’s time to cut the scrap and get cooking.
- Make a basic vegetable stock by simmering veggie scraps like carrot peels, celery ends, and onion peels in water. You can also add bones from chicken, turkey, or fish, or try adding seafood shells for more flavor.
- The next time you’re draining a can of chickpeas, save the liquid! This liquid, called aquafaba, can be used as an egg replacement for baking recipes or it can be whipped up to make creamy dips like mayonnaise and ranch.
- Save carrot tops for pesto, chimichurri, and chutney recipes.
- Get more flavor, and save time, by using up herb stems. We like using them up into pesto recipes, too.
- Dice up broccoli and cauliflower stems and toss into a stir fry.
Tops, bottoms, stems, ends—most of the time, it’s all food! Carrot tops can be made into a delicious pesto, chimichurri, or chutney.
4) SWAP THIS FOR THAT
The availability of specific ingredients can be a gamble, but we’re discovering opportunities for great ingredient swaps. If you’re missing an ingredient in your favorite recipe, we’ve got you covered!
- Need bread crumbs? Try substituting with cracker crumbs, ground oats, or even cereal crumbs!
- Don’t let a buttermilk shortage hold you back from making those pancakes! Substitute buttermilk with plain yogurt. Or, mix milk and lemon juice, let stand for 5 minutes, then use as a buttermilk replacement.
- Substitute fresh herbs, garlic, or ginger with dried and ground varieties from your spice rack. The dried/ground versions will be more flavorful, so be sure to decrease the measurements. Start light and add more if needed.
- Sour cream and plain yogurt are great alternatives to mayonnaise. (Or, try making mayonnaise from scratch with the aquafaba!)
- If a baking recipe calls for vegetable oil and you don’t have any on-hand, replace it in equal parts with applesauce, mashed banana, or another fruit puree.
- See exact measurements and a full ingredient swap list here. Is what you’re looking for not on this list? Try a Google search. You’ll be amazed at what you can find.
A full ingredient ‘swap’ list
5) WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS…
(or other citrus), save the peels! Citrus is known to have natural anti-fungal, antibacterial, insecticidal, and deodorizing properties. Use citrus peels to make non-toxic cleaning products for around the house. After your cleaning spree, reward yourself with a cocktail or mocktail! We’ve got some citrus peel recipes for that too.
- Make homemade citrus and vinegar cleaning spray: natural, non-toxic & effective!
- Use lemon peels to make limoncello, an Italian lemon liqueur.
- Whip up a whole citrus margarita. Omit the alcohol for a mocktail version.
We hope you enjoyed these food-waste-fighting tips! If you’re interested in learning more, check out our Save The Food, San Diego! webpage.