Food waste is a big issue in Canada. One that needs to be addressed and kept top of mind. As part of our ongoing series to help Canadians prevent food waste in their own kitchens today we bring some great tips from our whole community on how you can be less wasteful in your kitchen at home - and not just with food.
Food waste is in the news more and more lately and with good reason. Canadians and Canadian businesses waste a lot of food. A horrifying amount actually. In Canada it's estimated that 58% of food produced in Canada is wasted and that as a nation, we waste $49 billion (that's billion with a B) worth of food annually.
There are so many downsides to wasted food - environmental, financial, and social. And it happens at all levels of the food chain. Wherever there's food, there's a good chance there's some waste occurring.
Can we, as consumers, stop it entirely? No. But we can certainly make a difference in our own kitchens.
We've all thrown out something from the back of the fridge that we can no longer identify. And we've probably all tossed something we just didn't know what to do with - like broccoli stems or beet leaves or chicken bones. Every time that happens to me I feel like I've thrown money down the drain!
And waste in the kitchen doesn't just revolve around food. There's the containers we use, the packaging our food comes in, how we store our food - all of these can lead to other kinds of kitchen waste - more than is necessary.
But don't get discouraged! There's so many small ways you can tackle kitchen waste that can make a difference to both your pocketbook and the environment.
We asked FBC members across the country to share some of their best tips around food and kitchen waste. We've gathered them up here in one spot so you can either get started with food waste at home, or find some new tips and tricks to make your kitchen a lean, mean, waste fighting machine!
1. Getting Started With Avoiding Food Waste: The Basics
Let's start with some of the great pieces Tiffany Mayer wrote for us last year on food waste. They cover the big three: produce (which we, as Canadians, waste more than anything else), animal products and breads and grains.
- 10 Tips To Avoid Wasting Fruits and Vegetables
- 6 Tips To Avoid Wasting Meat, Seafood and Eggs
- 7 Tips To Avoid Wasting Breads and Grains
2. Embrace Leftovers
Some people love leftovers, some don't. But learning how to repurpose the odds and ends in your fridge can go a long way to reducing food waste and you can wind up with some pretty tasty and creative dishes in the process. Izzy Preps has lots of tips on how you can learn to cook with leftovers and keep your fridge cleaned out. You don't need a step by step recipe - the goal is to work with what you have on hand and with her guide, you'll find it way easier than you might think! As she says... "leave no veggie behind!"
3. Get Smarter With Your Grocery Shopping
Bigger may be cheaper but it doesn't mean it's better. While that giant container of salad greens might seem like a good deal at first, if you can't use it before it's turned into a soggy mess, any money you saved by buying it gets tossed with it into the green bin. Naughty Nutrition has great tips on how to get smarter with your grocery shopping as well as lot of other ways you can cut back on food waste at home.
4. Buy Local Where You Can
A lot of resources go into producing our food and even more go into getting it to us. Most fresh foods have a short shelf life and a lot of waste happens before the food even gets to us. Local fruits, veggies and proteins use fewer resources when it comes to transport and storage meaning less of a carbon footprint and less food waste due to spoilage. Dietitian Michelle from Nutrition Artist has more to say about buying local along with a host of other tips for reducing food waste.
5. Regrowing Veggie Scraps
You may not have access to an outdoor veggie garden but that doesn't mean you can't grow veggies! Regrowing veggies from veggie scraps is a fun thing you can do in your kitchen and it's a really cool way to get young kids engaged with their food! Some veggies will only grow their leaves back (like root veggies) but others you can regrow the entire thing from a scrap - like celery, certain greens or green onions. All you need is a window, some scraps and some water and away you go! Aimée from Simple Bites has a whole tutorial on how you can regrow veggies from veggie scraps including tips and a list of veggies it will work with. This is my little winter project in my kitchen!
6. Learn How To Use the Food Scraps You'd Normally Toss Out
A lot of things we normally toss out can actually be eaten. Start questioning all the scraps you normally throw out and do a little research to see what you can repurpose. Bones and vegetable scraps can be used to make stock - for plant based eaters and omnivores. You can freeze it in large or small quantities and use it for all kinds of recipes. The leaves of many root veg can also be used in many ways. Nutritionist Sondi Bruner has tips on what you can do with squash seeds and broccoli ends instead of tossing them in the green bin.
7. Start Composting
There will always be some odds and ends you can't use. And if your city has a green bin program, make sure you're using it to dispose of food scraps. But, if you have some yard space, consider composting. It's not labour intensive and in a few short months it can turn your food scraps (leave out the meat and dairy) into gorgeous, nutrient rich soil that you can use on your flowers, borders, planter pots and veggie garden. And if you've ever gardened, you know that gorgeous, healthy soil is black gold. Be sure to check out our entire tutorial on composting from our Grow Your Own Food series (also, growing your own food is a sure way to cut back on food waste - nobody wants to waste a scrap of food they've laboured over and coaxed out of the ground!).
8. Stop Using Single Use Items
This is one that's been in the news a lot lately and for good reason - single use, disposable items are contributing to our overall waste problem in a big way. And it's such an easy one to fix! The kitchen is a minefield when it comes to single use items: freezer bags, paper napkins and plates, plastic straws, plastic wrap, overly packaged food, takeout containers... the list goes on for a long way. Melissa Torio has lots of tips for working your way towards a zero-waste kitchen that goes far beyond just food waste!
9. Re-imagine School Lunches
School lunches are a drag. Everyone knows that. In fact, it's not just school lunches - it's adult lunches too! Which is why it's so easy to toss in pre-packaged tubs of yogurt, cheese strings, granola bars, fruit snacks, drink boxes - you name it. No muss, no fuss.
But it's a huge amount of waste, not to mention expensive. It's time to rethink the school lunch! Jo-Anna at A Pretty Life has tons of container tips as well as some great food item swaps you can use to pack yourself and your kids a zero waste lunch! If you're looking for some snack ideas you can pack up yourself, here's some great, healthy lunchbox snacks to try.
10. Grow Your Own Herbs (Inside! In Winter!)
Herbs were one of the biggest waste items in my kitchen - I always struggled to use up a big grocery store bunch when only cooking for two. Now I grow my own, both on my deck and in my kitchen, all year round. Then I just snip off what I need, when I need it and voila - no waste! And a cheery windowsill of herbs will brighten up a dreary Canadian winter - here's our five favourite herbs for growing indoors during winter. (and here's some of our top 10 herbs to grow in Canadian gardens!)
- Minimize Food Waste: Easy Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding
- Creative Ways To Repurpose Those Holiday Leftovers