How I Cut Back on Food Waste

By Amy Gorin, MS, RDN

I’ve recently been thinking about food waste quite a bit. Did you know that in the United States, we threw away 133 billion pounds of food in 2010? On a household level, we can each do a lot to cut back on waste! One of my favorite ways is storing mushroom stems and broccoli stalks in zip-close plastic freezer bags and using the scraps to make homemade vegetable broth.

I wanted to share some more tips with you, so I asked my nutritionist colleagues for their top tips.

Don’t be lured by a sale. “Resist the urge to buy large quantities of food just because it’s on sale,” says Sarah Pflugradt, MS, RDN, owner of Salubrious RD. “Ten for $10 or buy one, get one can seem like a really great deal, but it’s not if the food goes to waste. Buy out of necessity, not out of impulse.”

Slice up a snack. “When roasting broccoli or cauliflower, I don’t waste the stems,” says Rachel Begun, MS, RDN, nutritionist at RachelBegun.com. “I cut them into slices and salt them for a pre-dinner snack. First, I trim the outside layer by cutting vertically, then slice them horizontally into ‘coins’ and salt. They’re crunchy and refreshing.”

Make use of the whole plant. “Remember that the greens of many vegetables are edible and nutritious,” says Sharon Palmer, RDN, plant-based blogger at SharonPalmer.com. Cook up the greens of beets, radishes, broccoli, cabbage, and carrots.

Don’t pile on the food. “Put the appropriate amount of food on your plate so there isn’t waste after a meal to scrape and trash,” suggests Hope Paul, RD, a certified diabetes educator at Weight Watchers International. You can always go back for an extra portion of veggies if you’re still hungry!

Whip up a bisque. “Once shrimp shells are peeled, you can freeze them to make a seafood or shrimp soup or chowder,” notes Tracee Yablon Brenner, RDN, culinary director at Triad to Wellness. Try this Simple Shrimp Chowder (5 SmartPoints® value per serving).

Create new dishes with leftovers. “When you’re trying to use up leftovers, it may seem like certain foods don’t go together,” says Elizabeth Ward, RD, nutrition blogger at BetteristheNewPerfect.com. “But you may be pleasantly surprised. For example, I top leftover cooked quinoa or whole-grain pasta with last night’s chili for lunch.” Not going to be around to use those leftovers? Freeze extras, or whip up a smaller amount of food.

Toss fruit into the freezer. “Freeze berries, melons, and other fruits when they are on the verge of going bad and use them as a frozen snack,” says Amanda Bratton, RD, a dietitian in St. Charles, MO. Store the fruit in zip-close freezer bags. No freezer space? Think about composting your food scraps so you can create soil to grow new food!

How do you cut back on food waste in your household? Tell me on Connect @amy_gorin!

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Amy Gorin is a freelance writer and registered dietitian nutritionist in New Jersey. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest