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Reducing Food Waste in the Kitchen

As the environmentally conscious movement grows, food waste is an issue on the forefront of many minds. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United States (FAO) reported one third or 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted every year. Just a fourth of this wasted food could feed 870 million individuals. 

Although food waste is a world wide theme, developed countries are often higher offenders than developing nations. The FAO reported the net food production in Sub-Sahara Africa is equal to the amount of food wasted by westernized countries. In Philadelphia, it is estimated that a little over 18% of landfill waste comes from food. 

The issue of food waste is not easily tackled. However, little things done at home can contribute to a larger, environmentally-friendly goal. Adopting the simple changes below can reduce food waste and also save some money for the whole household. 

Use the Whole Food

Much of the food prepared in the kitchen is wasted simply due to habit. Traditionally, many of us were taught to throw away stems, peels, and turning produce. However, in many instances, food scraps can be used in the kitchen and incorporated into a meal. 

  • Bake or incorporate the stems of broccoli and cauliflower into smoothies. They are high in fiber and nutrients.
  • Make homemade broths by boiling the roots, tops, and peels of vegetables such as onions, leeks, turnips, onions, and carrots.
  • Make smoothies and ice cream from overripe bananas. The brown spots of the bananas will add extra sweetness.
  • Before pitching skins of citrus, use them for zest, flavoring, or boil them with cinnamon or lavender for a warm aroma.

Shop Smarter

Another way to reduce food waste is to shop smarter. Initially, it may take more effort, but your wallet and the environment will thank you in the long run. Shopping smart can mean:

  • Frequent the grocery store more
    • Dropping by the store two to three times a week helps to eliminate wasted produce that would spoil by the end of the week.
  • Make a list
    • Heading to the store with a plan makes you less likely to buy unneeded food that will go bad if not used.
  • Look at the expiration date
    • A simple yet overlooked trick is to look at the expiration date of foods especially diary, eggs,and packaged salad greens. Choose the foods with the longest life span to ensure they do not go to waste.


Food preservation is a skill that has been cultivated for hundreds of years and is still used today. Whether using homegrown foods or ones purchased at the store, preservation methods prevent foods from going bad, save money, and can improve flavor. There are many ways to preserve foods that require some work or no work at all. 

  • Use the freezer
    • The simplest method of food preservation is to freeze it. Whether it is a purchased head a cauliflower that won’t be used in time or freshly caught fish, almost all foods can be frozen and cooked at a later time. 
  • Canning
    • Canning fruits and vegetables is an excellent preservation method that can last for years. Foods that were once canned can also add flavor to a meal. Find a beginner’s canning guide here.
  • Drying
    • A great way to make tasty snacks or lasting herbs is to dry food that may go to waste. It is simple to dehydrate fruits and vegetables that may have gone uneaten. 


Composting is one of the best ways to get rid of unwanted, decomposable goods. Composting is a hobby anyone can easily pick up or simply contribute their compostable goods. For Philadelphia residents, there are many companies that will come pick up your compost. A few composting collection companies are listed below:

In any city, trash day is an unsightly day. Help make this day a little less wasteful by minimizing food waste. Whether using a little more of the food you purchase, shopping a little smarter, preserving food, or composting, these little changes can dramatically help reduce food waste and aid the environment. 

By Elise Deming, MS, RDN, LDN