The USDA and the EPA launched a food waste reduction campaign last month, calling it an environmental and moral issue. About a quarter of land fill mass is made of food waste, and the USDA estimates that an average of $390 per U.S. consumer was thrown out in 2008. The Food Waste Challenge invites retailers, facilities and institutions to participate in media campaigns to bring awareness to food waste and work within their own organizations to reduce waste. Here are some ways you can help save food from landfills:
1. Plan your meals for the week. Sitting down on a day off to plan what’s for dinner will help you think about uses for any food you already have, and will keep trips to the store at a minimum. With a plan, you won’t be stuck at the busy grocery store at 5:00 p.m. thinking that a pizza would just be easier.
2. Take leftovers to work for lunch. Rather than let that chicken cutlet sit in your fridge, chop it up and throw it on top of lettuce for a salad. Bring your dressing in a smaller container to keep it from getting soggy.
3. Turn greens into pesto. Basil doesn’t have to be the only herb to make pesto. Throw leftover arugula, spinach, cilantro or radish greens into your blender with olive oil, garlic, nuts or seeds and some parmesan cheese to make a delicious sandwich spread or dressing base that will last much longer than the greens would on their own. Pesto also freezes well.
4. Make soup. Soup is all encompassing. All leftover veggies can be thrown into the stew pot. Add curry paste or miso for a savory twist.
5. Cook your berries. A reduction of berries, lemon juice and sugar will make a quick jam that will last several weeks in your fridge. You can use it on bread, pancakes, French toast or even on top of grilled pork or chicken.
6. Infuse vodka. Raspberry or lemon vodka is common, but you can also soak cucumbers, peppers, fennel or celery in vodka to make an exciting new cocktail infusion.
7. Start a compost pile. Even if you don’t garden, you can compost food waste into a healthy soil additive. Give it to your neighbors or just spread it around the yard. If you live in the city, see if a nearby community garden would like it or try to give it away on Craigslist.
8. When all else fails, make spaghetti. Great creative. Throw turnips, greens, beets, carrots and other vegetables into your pasta. You will be pleasantly surprised by the results.