6 Minimizing Food Waste

We have gotten to the point with our waste reduction efforts that we are going beyond waste source separation. We have shifted the focus to waste elimination by not even creating the waste in the first place. In our last waste audit I was stunned to really see (in numbers) how much food waste we were producing. It is all composted but still...it is unnecessary. Here are some tips that have helped us to reduce the amount of food waste that we are putting into the compost. 

Buy Only What You Need
While it is easy to use up extra peppers or  lettuce it can be tougher to find a use for leftovers that you don't use as often....like rosemary or other herbs that don't go in everything.  One of the simplest things you can do to ensure you aren't throwing out food you never used up is to meal plan. If you want to cook a meal that requires half of a container of cream then find another meal to make later in the week that requires you to use the rest of the container. Or double the recipe to use the full container and then freeze the leftovers.

Freeze Food Before it Goes Bad
You can easily freeze leftover tomato paste when you don't use the full jar. Spoon it into clumps on a cookie sheet and place into the freezer until frozen. Remove and place into a glass jar in the freezer.

If you have spinach or kale that is going to go bad before you can use it up simply puree them in a blender with a bit of water. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze. Remove and place into glass jars in the freezer. I pop them into my smoothie in the morning if I have run out of the fresh stuff or it is a quick way to add greens to your sauces. 

When bananas start to over ripen just throw them in the freezer with the peel on. You can easily pull them out and quickly defrost for use in smoothies or banana bread.

Cut up leftover bread into bit sized pieces and freeze in an airtight glass container. To make breadcrumbs just grab and handful and process in the blender. To make croutons place them on an oven safe tray, season with salt, pepper, basil, oregano and bake for 10 minutes.

Re-Use Food Scraps
While re-using food scraps this doesn't necessarily reduce the amount of food waste you are producing it does give the waste a few more uses before you compost it.  

Asparagus stalks, carrot peels, celery stalks, the ends of onions. Don't throw them out! Place them in a air tight glass container in the freezer and when your container is full use them to make your own vegetable stock.

Use your orange, lime and lemon peels to make your own cleaner. There have been lots of different recipes pinned for this and a lot of conflicting opinions on what actually works and what ends up smelling like rotten fruit. Check out this recipe by ecokaren that has been tested and works!

Keep your Fridge Clean
How many times have you gone into your fridge and found something pushed all the way in the back that is probably from a few months ago? If you keep your fridge clean and organized you will be able to see what you have in there which will reduce the chances of food spoiling before you have a chance to use it. Using glass containers really helps too because then you can easily see the food without having to open the container.

How do you reduce the amount of food waste you are producing?

Related Posts - Check them Out
Rethinking One Time Use
Fine, I will admit it. I love kale
Simple Tricks to Make Composting Successful


  1. We freeze things too: we freeze fresh herbs to use later, sauces, and veggies. You can freeze zest or peel to use in a recipe later. Bananas, watermelon, and some other fruits are yummy if you peel them, cut them and freeze them. Just pull out and eat frozen for a treat that is good for you.

  2. These are excellent tips. Thank you so much for sharing them. I'm definitely trying the vegetable stock idea. Currently I have outer leaves of cabbage, broccoli and chard stalks in my fridge that I could have frozen right away for this purpose. Do you think it's too late to freeze them?

  3. I've found that trying to cook only enough for one meal ... and perhaps just a bit more because I like leftovers for breakfast ... helps us reduce waste. I've also started to pay close attention to serving sizes because I have a tendency to cook for an army. So I research various foods to see what a serving size is (and I'm always surprised) and I use that as a guide. Not only do I cook less, we eat less ... and that's better for us and the earth.

  4. That is a great point. Cook portions that you NEED. Measure, measure, measure.

  5. @LJCM - if they are still good in the fridge then you can absolutely still freeze them!

  6. @Meegs - Freezing zest is a great idea!!! Do you freeze on a pan first?