reduce food waste

How to Reduce Food Waste in Your Kitchen

In honor of Earth Day, we wanted to impart some of our experience in reducing food waste. And you can follow many of these simple tips to easily reduce food waste in your own kitchen! Read and share this post or this pretty flyer to help make a difference this Earth Day!

At the core of Clean & Colorful Kitchen’s philosophy are three distinct value propositions:

At CCK, we…

  1. Make food that is good for your BODY
  2. Create it in a way that supports your COMMUNITY
  3. Operate responsibly to protect our ENVIORNMENT

We spend a lot of time talking about these on our Mission and Core Values page, but in this post I wanted to elaborate about our third Value Proposition and the actions we take in our kitchen to support a healthy planet. In addition to shopping and delivering only locally, using minimal amounts of animal protein, sourcing responsible materials and recycling as much as possible, we also do quite a bit to reduce food waste in our kitchen.

5 Tips to Reduce Food Waste in your Kitchen

Many of these actions we take in our commercial kitchen can be transferred directly into your private kitchen as well. And not only will some of these tips protect the enviornment by reducing food waste, but will also save you some money and boost your own personal health. Talk about win-win-winning!

1. Buy only what you need.

What we do:

This might sound obvious, but it’s the most effective way to control your waste and it’s one of the reasons I love our business so much. We don’t buy in advance and guess what our customers want and hope we got it right. We collect orders THEN we shop. This is one of the best ways we prevent food waste because we know exactly what we need and what we’re going to make with it.

What you can do:

Have a plan! Don’t just roll through the grocery store or farmers market and think …. “Um…that looks good” and toss it in the cart. Taking a few minutes (ok, maybe 30, but it’s worth it!) to create a plan for the week will save you time as you shop and of course help reduce your waste. Make a meal plan and shopping list and know what recipes you’re going to cook. If you don’t already have awesome tools to help you with this, might I suggest our DIY Nutrition plan?

2. Store leftovers to extend life.

What we do:

We store leftover veggies like onions and tomatoes in a cool dark place, not the fridge. In the fridge, we store extra veggies unwashed and un-chopped, because moisture tends to increase spoilage and cutting induces oxidation. For leafy greens and herbs, we keep them in plastic with a little paper towel to pull away moisture which can go a long way!

What you can do:

All of what we do, unless you like to wash and chop all your veggies at once. Which is actually a great habit because it increases your likelihood of eating them at all, which is the most important thing. If you do that, be sure to store them in covered containers lined with paper towels.

3. Get creative with your leftovers and be flexible.

What we do:

We do buy full cases of  vegetables to help control costs even if we only need half of it. So what do we do with the remaining half of the case? We get creative! We make soup and smoothie bags (which we can freeze), we mix up our menu based on what we have. Have you ever wonder how and what we decide what to put in our seasonal salads? Or when to make zucchini muffins?

We also play the veggie shuffle. Sometimes you’ll have more colored peppers, sometimes less. Sometimes zucchini noodles, sometimes Summer squash. We still follow the major macronutrient profiles of our recipes, but the color of veggies can change because we remain flexible.

What you can do:

You should totally make soup and/or smoothie bags! Having healthy prepared food in your freezer ready to go is an awesome way to reduce food waste and also improve your health! Win-win! You can also feel comfortable swapping out veggies in your recipes. For the most part, they are low in calorie, high in fiber and interchange well in casseroles, scrambles, salads and pasta.

4. Don’t be afraid to freeze them.

What we do:

This does not happen often, but if we don’t have time to make soups or smoothie bags, we’ll wash it, chop it and put it in the freezer. They won’t defrost well enough for a fresh dish, but they work well in soups and smoothies when we have the time to make them. And believe it or not, produce can live for 8-10 months in the freezer and still maintain nutritional value.

What you can do:

When in doubt, wash it, chop it and put it in the freezer for later. Frozen fruit is always good in the blender and frozen veggies are awesome for soups, pastas and scrambles.

5. You CAN actually use the stuff you think you can’t.

What we do:

That sounds weird but a good portion of the veggie would be lost in the processing of it for consumption. Think carrot peals, stems, leaves, cores, etc. Even though these parts of the veggie are not a good fit to be the star of your main dish, it does not mean we can’t still pull some nutrition out of them. Here are 2 things we do with these less than viable portions of the plants in our kitchen:

  1. Rabbit Bags. No joke. We put all the “waste” in plastic bags and we store them in our walk-in. We are lucky enough to share a kitchen with someone who has access to a farm. Their rabbits love what would otherwise be considered veggie waste.
  2. Veggie Stalk. These are not the tastiest parts of the plant so I wouldn’t include then in our soups, but if all of these parts are properly washed, you can add them to a stock pot with water and let it boil down for a few hours. Strain the chunks (yes, those are eventually discard, but can be composted and we know we pulled every last nutrient out of it) and either use or freeze the stock.

What you can do:

You can totally make veggie stalk! And the more you boil it down, the more dense the flavor and nutrition will be and easier to store in the freezer. Did you know that buying veggie stock can actually be more expensive that beef or chicken? This is a great way to save veggies and money!

You can also of course store your veggies for the rabbits if you know anybody who has one or of course, you can compost. If you don’t have a garden yourself, look for a community garden in your area and see if they accept donations. But skip the citrus and onion peals, they are toxic to some of the worms and bacteria that make the compost magic happen.

Five simple ways you can reduce food waste in your kitchen!

We hope you enjoyed post and found it useful. Please pass it on in celebration of Earth Day and/or any day simply because you love our planet. And don’t feel like you need to do all five, just mastering one can make a difference and every small effort counts!

And as always, if you really don’t want any food waste, remember, you can just order from our kitchen and we will only deliver EXACTLY what you need for the week (and take care of reducing food waste while we’re at it!)!

reduce food waste