Are you throwing away valuable food? Part one
MSU Extension offers strategies for using and preserving Michigan Fresh foods.
Home composting is a fantastic way to keep food waste out of landfills, but have you considered ways to prevent food waste in the first place? Get the most mileage out of your food purchases by following these simple kitchen waste reduction practices.
Preserve what you cannot consume before it spoils
Michigan farmers’ markets and farm stands are overflowing with a bounty of fruits and vegetables this time of year. It can be easy to buy too much, resulting in spoilage. To avoid wasting food and money, food can be preserved for various lengths of time through quick-pickling, freezing, and canning. Michigan State University Extension offers the following resources on storing and preserving fresh produce:
- Michigan Fresh Fact sheets on Food Preservation and Food Safety
- A recipe for refrigerator pickles – not just for cucumbers! Try chard stems, carrots, snap beans, radishes, asparagus, parsnips and peapods
- Food preservation classes—learn to make jams and jellies, pickles, and more. Refer to the MSU Extension events page for upcoming classes in your area, MSU Extension also offers an online food preservation course
Use as many parts as possible
Foods found in grocery stores may have some of the edible parts removed. You may have more luck finding vegetables in whole form at your local farmers’ market or farm stand; or you can grow your own!
Not only do you get more value out of your purchase, you can get different flavors out of the same plant. Beet greens, broccoli stems, carrot tops, chard stems, squash seeds, and watermelon rinds are all examples of edible plant parts that often go unused. Refer to these articles for information on using commonly discarded parts of plants and animals in cooking:
- Are you throwing away valuable food? Part Two: Produce
- Are you throwing away valuable food? Part Three: Meat
Cooking from a recipe can result in waste if ingredients purchased specifically for that recipe are not fully used up. One way to avoid this is to purchase exactly the amount needed for a recipe. If you purchase more than you need, website and apps such as Supercook , MyFridgeFood and Allrecipes DinnerSpinner can help you discover other recipes to use up the rest of the ingredients. Other apps such as FoodKeeper can help you learn how to store different foods to keep them safe to eat.
Alternatively, you can try creating your own unique dishes made from ingredients on-hand. Books such as The Flavor Bible by Karen Page offer insights on complementary flavors and cooking techniques to bring out the best in what you have.
It’s easy for food to get lost in the fridge. Posting a list on your refrigerator and freezer can help you remember what’s inside.
No one wants to eat the same thing day after day. Mix up your leftovers by using the previous meal as a starting point for the next one. Books such as Leftover Makeovers by Victoria Shearer and The Kitchen Ecosystem by Eugenia Bone offer inspiration for transforming leftovers into new dishes.
Love Food Hate Waste is a web-based database full of recipes based on leftovers. They also have an app for iPhone and Android
Also consider freezing leftovers to reheat on busy days where there is not time to cook.
This article from MSU Extension outlines important food safety tips for using and storing leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer.