Tips to reduce food waste

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Start saving the earth with your carrot tops As mentioned before March is National Nutrition Month. For 2018, the theme is “Go Further with Food”.  I and many other dietitians have focused on trying to make our food last longer and decreasing food waste.  Did you know that there is 36 million tons of food wasted each year and about 1/3 of all edible food is wasted in this country?  Now that National Nutrition Month is coming to a close and with April brings Earth Day this spring is a great time to start talking with your family about steps you can take to reduce food waste.  The following are some tips on reducing food waste:

Serve family style meals- Many families pre-plate meals. Family style meals allow the person to decide how much they want according to their appetite.  This is beneficial since it can lead to decreased food waste, but also can help encourage someone to practice mindful eating.

Plan meals based on what you already have at home- There are many mouth-watering recipes that one can look up on the internet, but rather than find a recipe and purchase ingredients, search for recipes that use the ingredients you have with the goal of purchasing very little.

Purchase frozen foods or freeze your own produce - If fresh foods go slowly then use frozen fruits and vegetables. Then you can remove the amount you need and the rest can be stored properly until you need it again.

Resist impulse buys and temptations at the grocery store - This is why it is important to stick to a list. A list reminds you of what you need and reduces the chance of impulse buys.  Many families have utilized the grocery pick-up or grocery delivery to help minimize impulse buys.

Embrace ugly produce - Much ugly produce can still be used. Overripe bananas and avocados can be used in baking.  Bruised apples or pears can be cut up and used to make applesauce or baked dessert.

Make less - When hosting a party, resist the urge to have an overabundance of food. Strive to make just enough as this will result in less waste.  If there is a lot of left overs, send them home with friends.

Be creative - Use parts of produce that you do not normally use to make food. For example, make a frittata with beet greens, broccoli stems to make pesto or salad, or use the following recipe for carrot top pesto.  The pesto can be a great recipe to make with your kids.  It is fun for them to watch a large mound of leafy carrot tops reduce to a tasty pesto.

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Carrot Top Pesto
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons walnuts (or other nuts that you may have on hand-pecans, almonds, etc.)
  • 2 cups carrot tops
  • ½ cup fresh basil or cilantro, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • pepper ¼ teaspoon
  • ½-3/4 cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese (optional)
Instructions
carrot tops, chopped (cut away leaves from the stems as best you can). Add the first 6 ingredients (if adding cheese add it at this point) to the bowl of a food processor and turn the processor on. While blending stream the olive oil into the bowl for blending. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5-7 days or freeze and store in freezer for 6-12 months.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield:
Scrap it UPedited
Scrap it UPedited

I am pictured here teaching a class on reducing food waste to a community group, where the carrot top pesto recipe was featured.