10 tips to fight daily food waste

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A third of the world’s food produced for human consumption is wasted every year, and food waste wastes money and precious natural resources. To combat this, we can all incorporate simple, sustainable food-saving practices every day. Here are ten simple tips to protect the planet, save money and enjoy the food you have at home.

1Eat more plants

The food we eat has a huge environmental impact, and every bite can help or hinder climate change. However, the more whole plants you eat, the more likely you are to reduce food waste from restaurants and other sources. It’s okay to feel a little guilty when you know there are green vegetables in the fridge that will go bad if you don’t eat them. Save the takeout for another day and enjoy these vegetables steamed, sautéed or wilted in a hearty vegan stew.

2Buy smart and make a plan

Beware of impulse buying. Plan your meals a bit, make a list and stick to it. This advice isn’t new, but considering the land used to produce wasted food equals the size of China, you might be a little more motivated to join this list. Buy only what you need and avoid buying something just because it’s on sale. If it’s not on your list, it’s not in your reusable shopping bag. You can always come back a few days later to grab a few more carrots.

3 Order in stages

If you can’t remember the last time you set foot in a grocery store, you can always enforce the “only buy what you need” rule when eating out. If you are at the restaurant, order your entree first. Very often, we fill up on appetizers and then simply choose the main meal. If you are not satisfied with the portion size of the entree, call your server and order an appetizer.

4 Cook less

Before you place that Thai vegan takeout order, let’s get some clarity. This rule does not encourage you to eat out more often – the restaurant industry wastes an absurd amount of food – but to reduce the amount of food you prepare at any one time. For example, if you’re following a recipe that suggests six servings, but you’re a two-person household, do some simple math and reduce the ingredient measurements by two-thirds. Use this practice when making a meal that won’t keep, like savory pancakes or paninis.

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5 Save leftovers

If you’re making a meal that freezes well, let leftovers be your food waste superpower. Dishes such as chili, soups and stews, casseroles and meats made with seitan freeze for weeks. Other lesser-known freezer friends include tofu, bananas, bread and baked goods, and even vegetables like cauliflower and zucchini.

6 Marinate and ferment

If that carrot looks a little soft, pickle it. Faded cabbage? Ferment it. The process of soaking produce in brine is a gentle and delicious way to preserve produce. Pickled and fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi can be expensive, but you can recreate them at home for a fraction of the price, without fear of hidden fish sauce! Technically, you can pickle anything. Some pickle projects to try: escabeche, beets, cucumbers, onions, peppers, cauliflower and red grapes. This quick and easy recipe is a great way to start.

7 give it away

Gather these shelf-stable items from the nooks of your pantry and donate them to a local food bank. Take it a step further by connecting your regular vegan restaurants with a local food recovery organization like Food Not Bombs. Many food recovery nonprofits also work with grocery stores, event centers, and schools. In case you’re wondering where leftover Mac and Yease go at the end of Whole Foods Day, chances are they’re being transported to someone in need.

8 Be a food pusher

For those who love to bake but don’t know what to do with two dozen cupcakes, embrace your new identity as a food vendor. It’s the “I brought vegan brownies!” office worker, the friendly neighbor at your doorstep with a box of freshly baked sugar cookies, or the person who never shows up to a trivia party without a muffin for every player on the team. Don’t let your precious baked goods go to waste – spread the vegan message and reduce your food footprint by sharing your sweet labors with the world.

9 Use all the ingredient

Sauté, blend, simmer and transform these oft-tossed bits of food into flavorful elements to elevate any dish. Steam and toss broccoli stalks into a creamy soup, sauté cauliflower leaves with mixed vegetables and tofu, and turn virtually any leftover produce into an umami bomb broth. Carrot tops, celery ends, and even apple and pear pits can be boiled with water to create a seriously flavorful base worthy of a Michelin star.

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ten Compost

Even the most dedicated vegan isn’t perfect. Inevitably, we will not be able to eat everything (like coffee grounds for example). When you have leftover banana peels, lettuce, potato peels, and avocado peels, simply add them to the compost pile. Composting is a regenerative practice that returns nutrients to the soil. So while those used espresso grounds might not do your body any good, they can definitely do the earth some good, and that’s the whole point of reducing food waste.

For more eco-friendly tips, read:
20 Vegan Sustainable Living Instagrammers to follow
5 zero waste tips for vegans
How and why I make my home Net-Zero

Max La Manne is a zero-waste vegan chef, award-winning author of More plants less waste and climate activist living in London, UK.

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