Thursday, September 1, 2022

"Food Waste Not Want Not" Checklist

Shopping basket with unwrapped pieces of produce

Whatever the reasons for food waste, I believe we're long overdue to change our thinking and behavior in this regard.

People in the U.S. discard more than 200 pounds (90 kg.) of edible food per person per year.

This number includes edible vegetable parts or parts of plants that the food industry tosses out, deeming them unfit or unappetizing for the dinner table. 

Post updated 10/29/23

Perhaps this year to honor a holiday like Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years, you'll consider cutting back on serving 3 kinds of potatoes or 5 types of desserts. 

Why not save money, energy, and help the planet and less fortunate people, by donating that money and/or natural resource (food) to a food pantry or other charity. 

Another idea is to go vegan for a day or more to see how you feel. Research shows that shifting diets from meat and other animal products to plant-based diets has a high potential for reducing carbon footprints and offsetting climate change. 

A vegan lifestyle also improves human health, according to Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change, a report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

More than enough food is produced on the planet to feed the global population, but as many as 829 million people still go hungry.

The food crisis is worsening, and the number of undernourished people in the world has grown by as many as

Eco-friendly ways to waste not

Let's look at our part. Some scraps we discard are ones we've been conditioned to think are inedible, and/or we overbuy and food spoils, before we've had a chance to eat it.

It's time to regroup and analyze ways to reduce overconsumption. Read on to find eco-friendly ways to save money, have less spoiled food, and learn to eat or recycle parts of fruits and veggies that we haven't used for sustenance in the past.

Food Waste Not Want Not Checklist Ideas and Tips

1. Only take what you need. When we buy less food, we’ll use every drop. This means simply reducing waste by not creating it in the first place.

2. Purchase food mindfully. Let's plan ahead and go to the market with a menu plan and shopping list. Select fresh things that can be consumed in a day or two. Refrain from buying impulse items, as this tends to make us buy more than we can use.  

Fill in with frozen and canned items. When there is leftover food from a meal or takeout, it's best to eat it at the next meal. If we can't do that, freeze and reheat food before it spoils. 

Take shopping list to store to avoid impulse shopping

3. Select produce by the piece rather than prepackaged. Some markets display and sell loose carrots, celery, beets, onions, potatoes and the like. If a market doesn't have this policy, ask them to create one so you only have to buy what you need.  

4. Choose quality over quantity. The best quality foods (organic, fair trade, fresh, local and unprocessed etc.) may cost more, but buying items this way does reduce waste.

5. Recognize positives of sustainable living. Shopping wisely leaves more food for others, improves personal and environmental health outcomes, and saves money in the long run.

Note: When we waste food, we also waste the energy and water it takes to grow, harvest, transport, and package it. If food goes to the landfill and rots, it produces methane—a greenhouse gas even more potent than carbon dioxide.

6. Practice making at least one new plant-based recipe each month. This is an easy way to use produce in tasty new ways and be a "savvy food-saver." See my suggestion below.

To use up overripe or blemished tomatoes, red pepper, and cucumbers to make a delicious bowl of The Best Tomato Gazpacho Soup.

Learn a new Plant-based Recipe to Conserve Food

7. Make a few short trips to the grocery store rather than one longer trip each week. Buying a little at a time reduces the chance of fresh food spoiling, before it can be eaten. 

8. Toast day old bread to prolong shelf life. Flavor pieces of toast with herbs and spices, and cut them up for croutons for salad. 

If you prefer, use day old bread for stuffing, bread pudding, or Rosemary Roasted Root Vegetable Panzanella. The recipe and photo are from Dana Schultz at Minimalist Baker. 

Recipe from Minimalist Baker

9. Handle and store fruit and veggies properly to prolong lifetime and prevent food borne illness. See The Best Way to Store Fruits and Veggies for tips.

Save leftover seeds, pits, and cuttings from veggies and fruit and plant in your garden to regrow more.


10. Repurpose lemon, orange, and grapefruit peels. Use them to infuse with vinegar to create a great smelling all purpose cleaner. 

Put a strip of a citrus peel down the garbage disposal to remove the stink.

Read Tips to Make Deep Kitchen Cleaning green and healthy. Check out tip#13 to discover additional ways to use lemon.

Tips and Ideas to Use Lemon for Cleaning

11. Eat all parts of a beetWhy Beets are Tops illustrates ways to use all parts of beets and why eating this veggie is so healthy.

Health Info, Serving Ideas for Beets

12. Eat banana peels. Banana peels are safe to eat, and phenolic compounds found in banana peels are rich in antioxidant and antimicrobial compounds. See The Absolute Best Uses for Banana Peels for prep ideas.

13. Save veggie skins, peels, and stalks to make a flavorful vegetable stock. Yellow onion skins lend a wonderful color and taste to homemade vegetable stock. 

Instead of throwing this part of the veggie away, put it in a freezer safe glass container with a lid. Mix onion peel with additional stock-friendly vegetable trimmings including pea pods, broccoli stem peelings, carrot ends and tops, celery leaves and end, asparagus tips, potato skins, and mushroom stems.

When the bag is full, transfer the scraps to a pot, cover with water, and simmer for an hour before straining and storing in the refrigerator or freezer for future use in soups, stews, and as a tasty, cholesterol free sauté liquid.

14. Cook realistic sized portions. If we cook the whole box of pasta it seems easier, but we're likely to overeat or throw some out, rather than store pasta in an air tight container to eat another night.

15. Compost. Compost. Compost. Instead of buying commercial fertilizer for the garden, use organic material from the compost pile to add to soil to help plants grow. 

Use Every Part of Produce to Prevent Food Waste

Food scraps and yard waste together currently make up more than 30 percent of what we throw away, and could be composted instead. 

Composting keeps these materials out of landfills where they take up space and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

If you don't have a compost pile, take unused clippings and food scraps to a community composting site. This extra effort is worth it. 🌱

Do you see why it's important to think twice before throwing food away?

Do you understand if you gather only enough food as you need, none will be wasted?

Please update your knowledge about how to store food correctly, and eat, freeze, or share your bounty with others. 

Remember if we waste not we all will want not.

Although I research and fact-check posts, they are provided for entertainment purposes only. When you need medical advice, consult with a health professional.

What is your tip for conserving food? Which of my tips resonates with you? Please explain in the comments section below.

Did you learn anything new or interesting by reading this post? Does it help motivate you to eat any parts of veggies or fruit you may not have eaten before?

I read and appreciate every comment, but will not be able to publish those with links.

Thanks so much for the visit. Before you go, please comment and re-share on social media with a link back to this post.💖 

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  1. What a great post! I've really been trying to work on this. It seems so simple but those old habits cling. Thanks for sharing such a thoughtful and important post at My Big Fat Menopausal Life's Share the Wealth Party. Hope you're having a great weekend.

    1. Know what you mean about old habits cling. I try to change one small thing at a time and that works well for me. Thanks for your kind comment and have a beautiful weekend.

  2. Wow Nancy, this post blew me away! Some really well taken points and valuable suggestions. I was reading a blog post the other day about world hunger and I was thinking- how much of that is caused by our waste. I've seen 20 packages of chicken discarded by the supermarket because it was over the date. so sad. I have picked vegetables in my CSA and it is exhausting. If we had to harvest the food ourselves, we would think twice about discarding it. I could go on and on. Great Post. Thanks Nancy.

    1. Understand what you wrote about food waste. There are some organizations that are finally addressing this issue. Some groups have petitioned local, state, and national officials to establish policy to redistribute restaurant, farm, and market overstock items so they get used before they spoil. Also your point "If we had to harvest the food ourselves, we would think twice about discarding it. Right on. Thanks and be well.

  3. Excellent things to think about Nan. I hate to waste food and am a believer in leftovers. I never knew that our garbage in landfills releases methane gas, very concerning,

    1. So happy this post was helpful to you. Have a beautiful day and Yahoo. Your comment was lost and was published.

  4. Thanks for the great tips. Will deffo help this winter with the rising energy costs !

    1. You better believe prices are going up and I'm glad I could offer some tips to save. Have a beautiful day and thanks for the comment and visit.

  5. Nancy,
    Great post. We do waste too much I always try to just by what I can use.
    Congratulations, you are being featured on Thursday Favorite Things. I hope you stop by

    1. Thanks so much Bev. Thrilled and honored. Thanks for hosting #TFT and have a great week.

  6. I eat so little bread most would go bad. I keep it in the freezer and toast it just enough to thaw and then some. I use my onions, carrots and celery to make broth. I use a lot of those veggie to add to the dog food I make for my Bodhi. It is hard not to waste food when cooking for one. Rather than stick something in the freezer and forget about it--which I have often done--I just eat the same things a few days in a row. I dont mind. As long as it tastes good! Right now I am working on a vegan wild rice and mushroom coconut milk soup. So yummy and easy to make. I'll give you the recipe if you like.

    1. Understand about cooking for one and food waste, yet it seems like you do a great job in using up the leftovers. Yes, the soup does sound interesting. Let me know when you have that recipe. Thanks for the visit and be well.

  7. Another gross waste of food that gets to me every years are the billions of pounds of pumpkins that go into the land fill. If you must have a jack o lantern, let the squirrels feast on it!! Ok - off my soapbox. I love this post. A very important topic. Thanks for sharing at the What's for Dinner party.

    1. You are so right about pumpkin waste. Another idea is to put it in a compost pile, whether you have your own or bring it to a community garden. Thanks again for hosting What's for Dinner Sunday. LOVE your fabulous blog party.