5 Tips to Reduce Food Waste in the Kitchen

There's inherent value in everything—sometimes you just have to get a little creative or look hard enough to find it. But too often in the kitchen, we don't see it and useful scraps of food get thrown away. In fact in the United States alone, 60 million tons of produce end up in the trash every year.  

For this reason, 88 Acres has always looked to run a zero-waste bakery. Seed'nola came about as a way to upcycle the loose bits of granola bar batches. Instead of tossing the leftovers aside, these edge pieces are thrown back into the oven to create a crunchy granola.

There’s no better time than Earth Day to start thinking about ways to reduce food waste and lessen our carbon footprint. We can compost our scraps of fruits and vegetables instead of sending them off to a landfill. We can learn to not blindly follow best by dates. The terms use by, sell by, fresh by and best by all carry different meanings and too often we throw out food that isn’t expired but perhaps is past its peak freshness.

"How do they know that this is the definite, exact day? You know they don't say like 'it's in the vicinity', 'give or take', 'roughly,'" said Jerry Seinfeld. "Maybe the cows tip them off when they're milking them."

We can also prepare the right portion sizes or make sure to enjoy the leftovers if we cook too much. Practically nothing should go unused. Here are a few lesser-known ways to reduce food waste and a few companies salvaging food byproducts at scale:

1. Use aquafaba as a substitute for eggs or egg whites

The term aquafaba refers to the leftover liquid from chickpeas. It's a great vegan egg replacer or alternative for egg whites, perfect for baking desserts like meringue. Just whisk the aquafaba for a couple minutes to turn it from a yellowish liquid to a fluffy, white texture. Aquafaba should be used within a week.

Sir Kensington's recently launched Fabanaise—a vegan mayonnaise that uses aquafaba instead of eggs.  

2. Enjoy beet greens

While everyone loves the root of the beet, many don't realize that the green leaves are just as good. These greens are full of calcium, iron and Vitamin C and are best served sautéed. All you have to do is rinse the greens, place them in boiling water for two minutes and then immediately put the greens into ice water. From there, drain the water before sautéing the greens, adding olive oil and garlic to taste.

Forager Project introduced a line of vegetable tortilla chips to use the beet and other vegetable pulp that was a natural byproduct of their juice line.

3. Repurpose veggie (or meat) scraps

Broths and stocks are a great way to ensure that no food goes to waste. There are several easy different recipes for making broths and stocks, but you can't go wrong with gathering your loose bits and pieces of your meat and veggies and tossing them in a pot. Add a touch of olive oil, cover the scraps with water and let it simmer for an hour. Broths and stocks are perfect for stews and soups and are great water substitutes for cooking rice and sauces.

Several brands now offer bone broths that are made from animal bones that would otherwise go to waste. There’s Bare Bones Bone Broth and EPIC Bone Broth. We are hopeful to see a vegan broth come forward using the same model!

Roasting pumpkin or other squash seeds helps use the whole plant.

4. Roast pumpkin and squash seeds

When you're in a hurry, there's no better snack than a handful of seeds. Just save the seeds next time you roast a pumpkin, butternut or spaghetti squash. Loaded with protein, iron and healthy fats, seeds are just as easy to make as they are to enjoy. Simply rinse the seeds and lay them out on a baking sheet. While the oven pre-heats to 300°F, drizzle the seeds with olive oil and sprinkle with your favorite seasonings. Then stick the seeds in the oven for 8-10 minutes and enjoy.

5. When in doubt – freeze

There's really no reason to throw perfectly good food away when you can freeze it instead. Make sure to store your leftovers in properly sealed containers to prevent freezer burn and remain of mindful of portions when you freeze. If there's a lot of food left over, divide it up into servings you'll finish rather than putting it all in one container.