It happens to the best of us: You go to the grocery store and buy a big bunch of parsley with the best intentions to use it for dinner that night. You toss it in the fridge for later, but then a friend calls and you decide to grab dinner with her instead. The next night you're eating leftovers, and then the night after that your kids are craving homemade pizza. Meanwhile, that parsley goes limp, and before you know it, you're throwing it in the trash because the leaves are brown and slimy.
While incidents like this may seem small, they add up. Over one-third of the food supply in the United States goes uneaten according to the USDA. And in 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that 40% of all food waste in the U.S. comes from consumers and consumer-facing businesses (like restaurants, grocery stores, cafeterias, etc.). This is especially upsetting when you consider that 38 million people in the country are food insecure. Not only is wasting food throwing away money, it's also bad for the environment. In fact, the EPA says that as of 2021, food waste is the most common material found in landfills in the United States. And globally, eight to 10 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions are linked to wasted food.
The good news is that you can, actually, make a difference (there's no need to be a Doomer). Let Simply Recipes show you how easy it can be to tackle food waste at home: from making zero-waste recipes, to learning better ways to store produce, to supporting nonprofits working on a macro scale to reduce food waste around the country. This isn't about perfection, it's about doing what we can. — Ariel Knutson, Associate Editorial Director
Food Writers on Food Waste
All the tips, explainers, and stories you need to start reducing food waste at home (and beyond).
Do you want to reduce food waste but don't know where to start? Consider this your cheat sheet. From creating an "Eat Me First" box, to making the most out of your kitchen scraps, it doesn't take much to make a real difference. "Your wallet and the planet will thank you," says Su-Jit Lin.
Read the story: 10 Essential Ways to Tackle Food Waste at Home
Sara Bir reflects on the impact of Heloise Bowles Cruse, the newspaper columnist who wrote about reducing food waste at home before it was cool on TikTok. "The Heloise MO was more about thrift and mindfulness than being green, but the outcome was the same: a safer, happier, less wasteful kitchen."
Read the story: How Heloise Reduced Food Waste Before It Was Cool
One of the best things you can do when it comes to reducing food waste is understanding what printed dates really mean and why we have them in the first place. "Printed dates may be written in ink and not pencil, but they’re certainly not written in stone," writes Su-Jit Lin.
Want to make a difference outside your own kitchen? Support the nonprofits around the country making an impact on a much larger scale. Here, we'll introduce you to a few of our favorites. "They all share a singular drive: to reduce food waste and feed their hungry neighbors, all in one go," says Laurel Randolph.
Read the story: How 5 Nonprofits Are Tackling Food Waste on a Macro Level
Help your fruits and vegetables end up on your plate instead of the trash or compost by learning to store them properly. "Did you know that a quick vinegar rinse will extend the life of your strawberries? Or that you should treat your herbs like flowers and put them in water?" Asks Laurel Randolph. The more you know!
Read the story: 10 Better Ways to Store Fruits and Vegetables
Choosing a recipe to make that already have low-waste cooking in mind is just about the easiest way to reduce food waste at home. These cookbooks "make the most of all the peels, seeds, roots, and stems we might normally throw away," explains Stephanie Ganz.
Read the story: 7 Smart Cookbooks for Preventing Food Waste at Home
Don't you dare throw away those wilt-y greens, almost stale bread, or leftover egg yolks. Instead...toss them in the freezer! We'll show you how. "The freezer can help you tackle food waste, save you money, and help you be a smarter cook," explains Sheela Prakash. Oh, and did we mention you could freeze leftover wine? Yeah. That too.
Read the story: 10 Foods You Didn't Know You Can Freeze
Embrace the eco-friendly kitchen by investing in a good compost bin. A compost bin "allows you to process plant and food waste and convert it into an organic material that can be used as plant fertilizer," explains Taylor Tobin. Here's your guide to buying one.
Read the story: The Best Kitchen Compost Bins in 2022
Recipes for Reducing Food Waste
These recipes use the whole fruit or vegetable, so you don't even have to think about tossing anything out. Eat and sip your way to a zero-waste kitchen!
- Whole Banana Bread: This waste-free rendition of traditional banana bread may become your new go-to recipe. It’s supremely tender and perfectly sweet. You’d never guess whole bananas were in there, peels and all!
- Whole Clementine Cake: This moist and tender clementine cake uses the whole fruit—peel, pith, and seeds. Plus, the batter is made in a food processor.
- Sautéed Fennel with Fennel Fronds: Fennel is a three-in-one deal, and this delicious side dish uses them all—the bulb, the stalk, and the fronds.
- Stone Fruit Pit Liqueur: Use your stone fruit pits to make a sweetened liqueur that’s scented with thyme and vanilla to add to cocktails or sip with an ice cube for an after-dinner drink.
- Spiced Apple Core Simple Syrup: Move towards a zero-waste kitchen with this spiced apple core syrup. Simmer uneaten cores and sugar in water with cardamom and ginger to create a sweetener perfect for mocktails and cocktails.
- Tepache: Don’t toss those pineapple peels! Instead, use them to make this delicious tepache, a fizzy, lightly sweetened Mexican brew.
Ideas for Using Up Odds & Ends
Here's how to use up some of the most common leftover ingredients in the kitchen.
- 21 Ways to Use Up a Bunch of Greens: Use up your spinach, arugula, kale, or whatever green you have on hand, from sheet pan pizza to frittata to soups.
- 15 Ways to Use Up Stale Bread: Turn leftover stale bread into homemade croutons, breadcrumbs, or cubes, and then use them in things like a sausage kale skillet, creamy baked mac and cheese, and more.
- 12 Recipes to Use Up Buttermilk: Buttermilk adds a tangy, delicious flavor to baked goods, dressings, and even savory dishes.
- 10 Easy Recipes to Use Up a Bunch of Potatoes: Sweet or Russet, big or small—we have plenty of ideas for turning this starchy staple into a meal that everyone will love.
- 11 Recipes to Use Up Leftover Pumpkin Purée: Get the most out of pumpkin season by using leftover pumpkin purée for Chocolate Pumpkin Pancakes, Pumpkin Biscotti, and to enhance your morning coffee.
- 11 Recipes for Leftover Ricotta: Ricotta is a tasty addition to many of your favorite recipes. Try it in pancakes, pound cakes, pasta, pizza, and more!
- 15 Recipes to Use Up Canned Coconut Milk: Use leftover coconut milk up in breakfast recipes like grab-and-go chia cups or treats like coconut cupcakes.