As someone who loves cooking in practical and conscious ways, I know small steps can create new habits. With willingness, we can make a few changes that can help reduce waste in our homes as well as reduce the 40% of food waste that's created in the US every year. Here are eight easy Concerned Cook tips you can implement in your home today:
- Shop Locally
Besides boosting the local economy, there is a multitude of reasons to support small in your city. Many small businesses craft quality products in small batches with care, know their customers and often support other small businesses in the area.
- Shop Seasonally
Shopping seasonally in a local context helps reduce waste because during its season produce is typically found in abundance, and it can be less expensive than other times of the year (supply & demand). Moreover, shopping local and in season can lower the carbon footprint due to the energy & resources it takes to transport products from one region to another.
- 1 Ingredient = Multiple Recipes
Instead of buying a large variety of ingredients, stick to a few and make multiple recipes with them. For example, buy a bag of yellow squash and make 3 different recipes with them; this way, you won't get bored with the ingredient and it won't go bad.
- Buy What you Need
Buying more than what you will realistically consume in the time period before it goes bad will reduce the probability of tossing food.
Don't Exaggerate Portions
When cooking in large batches, try to accurately measure how much food you'll need and actually consume. Many people in your household may not eat the leftovers nor meal prep, and the food ends up in the trash.
Store food using the "first in, first out" method commonly practiced in the restaurant and food safety industries. Put the oldest items of food in the front so that they're not "out of sight, out of mind" in the back of the refrigerator. When buying new groceries, push the older items to the front so that you consume those first, before they expire.
Cook & freeze
Veggies going bad? Sometimes vegetables get a little soggy, oxidized, or bruised, but they're still edible! You can do things like cooking or pickling them to extend their life. For example, tomatoes can lose firmness and get watery, a great way to make use of them is to make tomato sauce, guacamole, or bolognese and eat it that way or freeze it for later.
Make new recipes with leftovers from yesterday's meals.