TEN TIPS TO KEEP PRODUCE FRESH AND MINIMISE FOOD WASTE
Updated: Apr 13
Not only is minimising food waste better for your wallet, but it's also better for the environment.
In fact, the latest stat from the UN is that 33% of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. And according to Michel Berners-Lee, author of There is No Planet B, an estimated 20% of that waste is at the consumer level meaning it goes bad before it's purchased from the grocery store, isn't consumed at restaurants or goes to landfill from our homes.
So if we want to ensure that we are doing our part to minimise this food waste, we need to be mindful of what we are buying and how we store it to keep it fresher for longer.
The first step is to ultimately meal prep in advance so you're buying what you need, and then *immediately* when you get home, sort and store everything properly.
So here are my seven top tips for how to store things properly as soon as you get home:
Keep items like fennel, spinach, tomatoes, bok choy, and lemons in reusable veggie bags in the crisper.
Wash and separate lettuce leaves, celery stalks, kale leaves and other greens, then wrap them in a damp towel inside a sealed glass or plastic container.
Place the ends of herbs, asparagus, and spring onions in a jar with an inch of water at the bottom, then place a reusable veggie bag or compost / zip lock over the top of the greens.
Radish, carrots, & bean sprouts should be fully submerged in water inside a glass jar (preferably pre-loved), then sealed and stored in the fridge.
Coffee and nuts can go straight in the fridge in original packaging to avoid mildew (for example cashews go bad easily at room temperature).
Store potatoes, onions and garlic in a cool dark place. Either in a basement or garage, ideally in a brown paper bag.
You can par-cook & freeze veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, spinach and beetroot to retain the nutrients before freezing, and keep in single serving sizes for when they are needed.
Then, in addition to proper storage when you get home, here are a couple bonus tips for when despite your best efforts, you have a few leftovers or something is about to go off.
If you're like most people and can only consume half an avocado at a time, pop the uneaten half in a sealed glass jar. It should last for at least 2 days with a small amount of brown on the surface which can be scraped off.
Leftover liquids can be frozen in pre-measured quantities for future recipes like veggie stock, coconut milk, leftover pesto, pumpkin or sweet potato puree, herbs in oil / wine, eggs if you aren't vegan, lemon and lime juice. My favorite tip is to use silicone muffin containers or ice cube trays for single sized servings.
If you have any of the following veggies about to go off, you can chop them up and pop them into freezer for the following: avocado/zucchini/fruit for smoothies, onions/garlic/celery for veggie stock, brown bananas/zucchini for bread.
You may also like: four immediate actions you can take to minimise food waste.
Awesome! But what if I still have some food waste?
Ok, so well yes, the best way to minimise waste is through proper meal planning and storage to keep produce fresh until it's used. You may still, despite your best efforts, find yourself with a bit of waste here or there.
So if you find yourself still buying more than you need, or putting some leftovers in the bin at the end of a meal - it's really important to ensure that you are disposing of food properly. Ultimately, when leftover food is put into a plastic garbage bag and sent to landfill, it lacks the oxygen to decompose properly and creates excess levels of methane in the environment. Unlike when things are properly composted, they emit mostly nitrous oxide which is 300 times less deadly than methane.
So what can we do?
If you can - rehoming the food is the best option. Do you have a friend, family or pet who can consume it before it goes bad? This is where our rescue rabbits come in super handy :)
Keep tops and scraps of carrots, leeks, garlic, onion peels etc for veggie stocks in freezer.
And if neither of these is an option, then look into composting options. Even if you don't have a municipal program easily accessible, there are often private options that will collect your organics from you and you can store it in the freezer until it's collected. Or you can look into creating your own indoor or backyard compost that will create nutrient dense soil for your own veggie garden or houseplants!
If you are interested in learning more about how to lead a sustainable lifestyle, join me for the 5 day "Lower Your Footprint" Challenge. Register here!