Three Easy Steps to Waste Less
We waste food—a lot of it. We all do it. There’s no denying it. And if you read this article about food waste statistics by Good Food Health, you’ll be shocked to see how many of us are contributing to the problem. Although the statistics are overwhelming, there are a few easy ways the wastefulness can stop with us.
1. Watch how much you throw away, in the trash or compost. Be aware and ask yourself if you can save it.
Despite my best efforts, I often waste food. I had a 1/3 of a shallot leftover from a recipe I was testing last night. It couldn’t have been bigger than my thumb. I was cleaning up the cutting board and it was in with the peels and garlic ends, and halfway to the compost I stopped and saved it from a destiny unfulfilled. I found the smallest container I had and put it in the fridge for later, but it almost didn’t make it there.
When I thought about why I was going to compost a perfectly good bit of shallot, I realized it was just plain old laziness. It was easier to toss it in the bucket than to find a container (with a matching lid) in my pile of tupperware and save it for later. It just seemed, well, so insignificant. But once you start paying attention to your waste, you start to see how significant your waste really is.
2. Learn how to properly store and refresh your produce. Check your fridge temperature.
Number two has to do with prevention. Learn how to properly store and preserve the freshness of your produce, as produce is one of the main sources of waste. Follow these easy food prep and storage tips to keep your fruits and veggies fresh. Make sure your refrigerator is set at the proper temperature—39 degrees preserves produce best.
3. Learn some recipes specifically for using older produce.
If you’ve done all of the above and you’re still not getting to all your produce before it spoils? Maybe you’ve adjusted your produce order from bi-weekly to weekly, gotten a smaller more manageable amount. Made your shopping trips to the store more frequent, getting only what you need for a few days. But then you went out to eat more one week, or didn’t pack lunches for a day or two. And now, your fridge is brimming with soggy kale, soft carrots, celery gone limp and stale bread?
Not to fear, there are a number of recipes that can help you use this borderline produce. Try making chicken, vegetable or beef stock, it’s easier than it sounds.
How to make a simple chicken, vegetable or beef stock
Fill a large pot with cold water, add a chicken carcass or beef bones, some of these borderline veggies; onions, carrots and celery being the main three, some herbs, a Parmesan rind or stale bread and a bay leaf or two. Keep the proportions of the veggies about equal and don’t bother peeling them, just lightly scrub any dirt from them if you haven’t already. Bring it to boil and let simmer for three hours and you’re done. Strain and freeze the stock in single serving portions, or use an ice cube tray for easily popping them out for sauces.
Looking for something a little quicker and immediate? Try this versatile and simple stuffing for roast chicken, or make it as a side for chicken breasts or steak. Vegetarian? Try this alongside a hefty slice of roasted cauliflower. Getting better at not wasting your food means your food dollars are going further and you’re helping to conserve energy and resources. It’s a win for you and the planet!
A mix of what's at hand all jumbled into one delicious stuffing
- 2 Tbsps coconut oil or other high heat oil
- 1 pound ground sausage, lamb or pork (optional)*
- 4-5 carrots, minced
- 1 ½ cups onion, leek or shallot, chopped
- 2-3 ribs celery, or stems from chard, chopped
- 2 cups mushrooms, Cremini, or any wild mushrooms, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 3 tsps thyme, minced
- 2 tsp rosemary, minced
- 1 cup white wine
- 6-8 cups mixed greens, chard, kale or collard, finely julienned
- 6 cups stuffing mix or cubed stale bread**
- 4-5 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 1 cup Parmegiano-Reggiano
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large skillet or Dutch oven heat oil over medium-high heat. When hot but not smoking add sausage, if using. Sauté until browned and almost all the way cooked. Remove sausage and set aside, discarding all but 2 tablespoons of oil.
- If not using, begin by sautéing carrots, onion and celery in oil until just tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add mushrooms, cook until soft and they release their liquid, about 2-3 minutes. Then add garlic and herbs, sauté for 2 minutes more. Add wine and scrape bottom of pan to release any browned bits, add greens and cover. Let cook for about 1-2 minutes, until green are wilted but still bright green. Remove from heat.
- In a large bowl, mix bread and vegetable mixture, season with salt and pepper to taste. Place in a large, 9x13 baking dish, drizzle with stock and sprinkle with Parmigiano. Cover with tin foil and bake for 15-20 minutes, until hot, then remove foil and bake until browned on top.
- Serve hot with roasted chicken, turkey or mashed potatoes.
- *For a vegetarian version fry cubed sunchokes or potato
- **If you don’t have enough bread or stuffing mix, make a simple cornbread. Once cool enough to handle break it up into bite-sized pieces and lay them out on a sheet pan, place in the freezer until chilled.