Zero-Waste Kitchen

Why a Zero-Waste Kitchen Makes Sense

Are you tired of throwing away half-eaten meals, expired groceries, and overflowing trash cans in your kitchen? Did you know that the average American household wastes over $1,500 worth of food each year? Not to mention the environmental effects of food waste, such as greenhouse gas emissions and resource depletion. The good news is that by taking just a few simple steps, you can move toward a zero-waste kitchen, make your food last longer and save money.

Make Your Food Last Longer

A little planning can greatly increase the amount of food in your pantry, freezer and refrigerator. When combined with a little online research, you can make even your fresh produce last for several months.

Cut Your Grocery Bill

If a penny saved is a penny earned then reducing food loss and waste stretches your food budget for cheap family meals. Combine this with canning, dehydrating and freezing for easy cheap dinner ideas all year.

No waste food is good but, as the concept of zero waste becomes more popular, it marginalizes the more than 133 billion pounds of global food waste each year. By trying each of these simple suggestions you’ll have enough food for cheap meal ideas throughout the month.

Progress, not perfection, is the key. Every meal offers new ways to reduce food waste.

In brief, simply select one of these recipe sites and add the ingredients you already have. If an easy recipe calls for something you don’t have then add it to your grocery list as your budget allows. Try to buy the least expensive and most versatile ingredients before moving on to those more expensive and less common. This way you’ll be able to stop food waste and well on your way to a waste free pantry.

Zero Waste Shopping

Buy Whole Fruit & Vegetables

Why buy prepackaged fruit & vegetables when you can buy fresh produce and have it your way? Yes, it may be faster and easier to buy them ready to serve but how much more do they cost and will your kids fall into the same trap if they don’t learn how to clean and prepare vegetables on their own?

Buying whole fruits and vegetables instead of pre-cut or pre-packaged ones can have many benefits. First and foremost, whole fruits and vegetables are typically fresher and more nutritious than their pre-cut or pre-packaged counterparts. This is because pre-cut produce is often cut and packaged several days before it hits the shelves, which means it has already started to lose some of its nutritional value.

In addition to being fresher and more nutritious, whole fruits and vegetables are also generally more cost-effective. Pre-cut and pre-packaged produce can be significantly more expensive than buying whole fruits and vegetables, and the packaging often adds to the overall cost.

Buying whole fruits and vegetables also allows you to have more control over the portions you consume. Pre-cut and pre-packaged produce may contain more than you need, which can lead to food waste and unnecessary spending.

Another advantage of buying whole fruits and vegetables is that it allows you to practice more sustainable habits. Pre-cut produce is often packaged in plastic, which contributes to the growing problem of plastic waste. By buying whole produce, you can reduce your plastic consumption and contribute to a healthier planet.

Overall, buying whole fruits and vegetables provides numerous benefits, including increased freshness and nutrition, cost-effectiveness, portion control, and sustainability. So next time you’re at the grocery store, consider reaching for the whole produce and enjoy the many advantages that come with it.

Buy Whole Meats

Did you know you can do the same with meat? Why buy prepackaged meat with all those unhealthy preservatives when you can buy fresh meat and have it your way? Challenge yourself to use every part and not waste any money.

We’ll begin with a 1940, WWII era, classic “Meat & Romance” with Alan Ladd. It’s a bit contrived and more than a little cheesy, pun intended, but offers sage advice for selecting, cooking and carving over 125 cuts of beef, pork, lamb and veal with a focus on the 60% beef, 48% pork and 43% lamb that sell for the lowest prices.

Key Moments:

  • 2:23 Beef – Explanation of how supply and demand drives the cost of specific cuts of beef and the difference between quality of cut or personal preference.
  • 6:11 Lamb – Explanation of how supply and demand drives the cost of specific cuts of lamb.
  • 7:52 Pork – Explanation of how supply and demand drives the cost of specific cuts of pork.
  • 10:47 Home Cooking – what are meat cooking temperatures and the benefits of low heat for both dry and moist cooking meat recipes.
  • 17:20– Science of Cooking – What does cooking do to meat? A demonstration of how cooking affects meat and the differences between low or high heat for cooking beef.
  • 20:00– Carving Meat – outlines the benefits of properly sharpened knives and carving techniques to make serving a breeze.
  • 24:02– Newtrition – a brief explanation of proper nutrition as it was perceived in 1940.
  • 34:06– Promo – a biased promotion of meat as the best source of nutrition and the many ways it can be served.
Keep Track of What You Have

If you want to make your food last longer and cut your grocery bill, what could you make with the food you already have? Perhaps a list would help use your fresh produce and canned goods before they expire? If your fresh produce is getting a little too mushy, you may want to try it in your smoothies, jams or broths. Discover sites that help you sort recipes with ingredients you already have

Keep Track of What You Waste

If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” – Peter Drucker

Trying something new is like driving a car, a thousand little course corrections. By keeping track of the food you waste you’ll be able to see where you can save money, or what to keep in the front of the refrigerator, the next time you shop.

Use Stems and Stalks

Many greens, packed with nutrients, are often discarded, rather disturbing when so many people don’t have enough to eat. Carrot, turnip, radish and even beet greens can be used for pesto, salad and soup base. If you have leftover bones from chicken, beef, pork or other meat you can freeze them until you have enough for bone broth then freeze it.

Switch to a Plant Based Diet

There’s no need to go Vegan, or even Vegetarian, but the less meat you eat the fewer resources you consume, waste you produce and better your health.

Shop in Season/Local

Would you rather eat fresh food or something preserved several days ago in another state or country? Shopping for food in season means less damage to the environment and fresher food for your family. See what’s in season in your area then plug the ingredients into one of the recipe sites above for the healthiest, and cheapest, meals available.

Seasonal Chart

Seasonal Food Guide

SNAP-Ed Seasonal Produce Chart

Preserve Foods (Short Term)

Not sure when you’ll be using the fresh food you have or when you’ll be able to get more?

There are many ways to preserve your food until needed:

  • Cure & Smoke
  • Dry
  • Ferment
  • Freeze
  • Jams & Jellies
  • Pickle
  • Storage
Organize Your Food Items

How frustrating is it when you can’t find what you need in the fridge/freezer or pantry, especially when you’re in the middle of making a recipe, or find the ingredient you need has expired? A simple system of at least placing the freshest behind older ingredients may help prevent unnecessary frustration and expense.

Get Creative with Leftovers

If you don’t like to have the same dish several days in a row, why not cook strategically? For example, a large batch of beans can easily be upgraded to bean tacos or nachos, then bean burgers, and finally bean soup or stew; good for busy, low-energy, evenings. If all else fails, freeze them to use later.

Explore these websites to discover thousands of new favorites!

Compost Your Kitchen Waste

More than excellent natural fertilizer, other benefits to composting:

  • becomes valuable resource
  • builds stronger food systems
  • controls erosion
  • creates more jobs
  • creates regenerative outlook
  • filters local water sources
  • grows healthier food
  • lowers farm production cost
  • lowers food costs
  • provides cleaner oceans
  • puts carbon back into the ground
  • reduces Green House Gasses
  • reduces landfills
  • saves disposal cost
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