Education & Engagement
Our team is busy picking up excess food around town, but the majority of food waste happens at the household level! In fact, the average household of 4 wastes approximately $1,600 each year on wasted food! Become a food waste warrior and learn how to reduce your food waste at home — it is up to all of us to make a difference!
Food waste tips & Tricks
There are plenty of ways to start reducing waste at home. Try some of the tips below, from planning, smarter storage, and creative cooking hacks, see what you can turn into a habit! By making just a few, long-term changes, you can have a HUGE impact on reducing overall waste!
- Plan your meals ahead of time! Know which days you’re going to cook, eat leftovers, or order-in!
- Now that you know what you’re going to eat, make a grocery list! Try to only buy what you know you’ll cook with.
- Before you shop, grab something to eat! As humans, we tend to make more impulsive shopping decisions when we’re hungry. A full belly means you aren’t as likely to over-buy and end up throwing food away!
- You’ve purchased the food, now it’s time to make it. Meal prep for a few dinners or lunches a week. If it’s already prepared, there’s no chance it will go bad rotting and forgotten in the bottom of the crisper drawer.
Keep The Fridge Fresh
- Mark dates on your leftovers and rotate the food in the fridge so that the oldest is in the front and gets consumed first.
- Each week look through your fridge and make a meal with what you have, and be sure look through your fridge before heading to the grocery store!
- Do a monthly sweep of pantry to see what you have. It is possible to forget about your dry foods, and they do go bad eventually!
- Write down the food you waste the most and consider buying less. Didn’t finish that bunch of bananas? Go for a smaller bunch next time.
- Buy “ugly” fruits and veggies. A scratch or bruise or two doesn’t mean it’s any less tasty or nutritious, but they get ignored and go to waste in grocery stores every day!
- Check out the sale section of your grocery store for items that are nearing expiration! Not sure if your grocery store has one? Ask a store employee!
Have You Heard of ethylene?
- One of the single most important factors in keeping your produce fresh is the hormone released by ripening fruits and veggies, ethylene. Some foods produce it, others are sensitive to it. These foods are best stored separately from one another, and can instantly and dramatically extend shelf life.
- Store potatoes and onions separately and in a cool, dark place.
- Store bananas away from all other produce.
- Store apples away from avocados.
Keep These Foods Dry
- Berries and other soft skinned fruits are quick to mold if kept too cold and wet. If they come home from the store wet, dry them off with a towel, and don’t wash them until you are ready to eat them.
- Mushrooms naturally release moisture over time. Keep them in a paper bag to absorb the excess.
- Lettuce will stay crispier longer if kept dry in the fridge. If they’re in a sealed container, throw a paper towel in the bottom of the container to absorb excess moisture and change it out when it gets damp.
These Foods LOVE Water
- Carrots and celery can be stored for a very long time if kept in a jar of water in the fridge.
- Tender herbs also do well stored in water. Put an inch of water in a jar and seal it with the herbs standing with the base in the water just like a vase of flowers. The herbs will love you for it!
Prep With Less Waste
- Scrub your vegetables clean rather than peeling to reduce waste.
- Use every part of the food— vegetable scraps can be stored in the fridge and freezer until you’re ready to prepare a veggie broth out of them.
- Use aquafaba (the liquid from canned garbanzo beans) to make a salad dressing in place of the typical oil base.
- Use stems and ends, such as carrot tops or beet leaves, in soups, salads, pestos, and chimichurri. There are lots of recipes online that incorporate every part of the food.
- Cauliflower and broccoli leaves and stems are totally edible! Peeling the toughest outside layer of a broccoli stem (it’s very tough to chew) and you’ve got even more broccoli for your buck!
Overripe But Still Edible
- Use overripe bananas for banana bread or banana ice cream! Freeze them when they go brown and save them for up to a year before using them for a recipe.
- Freeze any overripe fruits and veggies and use them in smoothies!
- Use overripe avocados for a chocolate mousse recipe with some cacao, or as a base in smoothies!
- Repurpose stale ingredients into alternative foods, for example stale bread into croutons or breadcrumbs.
Try These Resources
- Save The Food has lots of recipes for you to try using leftover ingredients, as well as the ends and stems of popular foods!
- SuperCook allows you to input whatever ingredients you have in your fridge and lists countless recipes with those foods included.
Be Wary of Expiration Dates
Expiration dates often indicate the quality, not the safety of the food items. According to the USDA, these phrases mean the following:
- Sell-by-date: How long the store can display the product.
- Use-by-date: The last date that the product is at peak quality.
- Best-before-date: The best date for flavor and quality.
USE YOUr SENSEs to determine if food past date is safe to eat.
DID YOU KNOW?
When food ends up in a landfill it produces a volcano of C02, methane, and other heat-trapping gases as it decays. What makes it worse, is that it will do this for decades before it’s finally able to break down completely.
Compost your food waste
Still have food to throw away? Minimize the negative environmental impact of sending food to a landfill by composting! Much of the harm from food waste comes from greenhouse gases, like methane, which is released at a significantly higher rate when food rots in a suboptimal environment like a landfill. By redirecting waste to a compost pile, the food breaks down more quickly, reducing the amount of methane produced.
Read more about how to get started composting, and find out if compost pickup is offered in your area.
Test your waste wisdom with we don’t waste
At-Home Food Waste Audit
Challenge yourself to reduce your food waste at home! American households produce more food waste than any other country in the world. We’ve got some catching up to do. Not only is it better for our planet, but it can save you a serious amount of cash as well! Our 2022 program is complete, but check out the page for free materials to use at home!
schedule a presentation
School Presentations & Food Waste Audits
We have virtual and in-person learning opportunities for students of all ages (you’re never too young or too old to learn about food waste)! We educate students about the environmental impacts of food waste, hunger, nutrition, and discuss what we can all do to help reduce food waste!
Please fill out our interest form and we’ll reach out to you with more information.
We also provide food waste audits and would love to help your school understand how much food is being wasted in the lunchroom. Please complete this form if you’d like to schedule a food waste audit.
- Content tailored to any age group!
- An exciting, hands-on experience for your students!
- Take-home materials can be provided for families as well!
Corporate groups and community organizations can learn about food waste, hunger in Denver, and what we can all do to help! We can also build out the experience to include onsite volunteering and team-building exercises! Please fill out our interest form and we’ll reach out to you with more information.
- Virtual and in-person options are available!
- Topic can be tailered to the group’s interests ahead of time!