How to Reduce Food Waste (30+ Viral Food Storage Tips)
It may not be something you think about too much, but food waste is a big problem. It happens every day, whether it's tossing leftover scraps from dinner, or throwing out an old tomato you forgot to eat. Learning how to reduce food waste is a really important part of helping the environment.
To prevent food waste, I'll show you my best food waste tips, and food storage tips that have gotten hundreds of thousands of likes and shares from all over Facebook and Instagram.
Before we get into the tips, you might be curious as to WHY wasting food is so bad for the environment. You may not know this, but 1/3 of all food produced is wasted, and wasted food actually contributes to climate change!
If food goes to the landfill and rots, it produces methane—a greenhouse gas even more potent than carbon dioxide. About 11% of all the greenhouse gas emissions that come from the food system could be reduced if we stop wasting food.World Wildlife Organization (WWF)
Instead of just listing facts about food waste, I found a more engaging way to display them for you. Below you'll find an infographic from the Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO) on food waste facts that will give you a better understanding of just how serious this issue is.
Plastic free food storage tips
One of the best ways to reduce food waste is to properly store your food. Here's how to reduce food waste with plastic free food storage tips.
Are you a new mom, or expecting? I wrote this super informative blog post on how to sustainably store breast milk, check it out!
- Freeze your herbs in cooking oil
- Keep your cold brew in a wine bottle!
If you like big batches of cold brew, store it in emptied and cleaned wine bottles!
The screw caps will work best, so you get a proper seal on the bottle. The bottle's neck makes for a great pour too!
Just make sure you don't pour yourself a cold brew out of your wine bottle while you're on a work video call!
- Store your ginger in vodka!
To store ginger without plastic, theres a few different ways you can go about it! If you love ginger, this is a great place to start when learning how to reduce food waste.
Want a more in depth tutorial? I actually wrote a fantastic blog post on how to store ginger without plastic!
Vodka + ginger (lasts up to 2 months)
Ginger will stay fresh for up to 2 months if stored in a mason jar, in the fridge. Just place your ginger root in a jar, pour enough vodka to cover, seal the jar with a lid, and place in the fridge! Using vodka will alter the taste of the ginger.
Reusable silicone freezer bag in fridge (lasts up to 1 month)
Place ginger root in a reusable silicone freezer bag (tap link in bio and search "freezer" to buy this freezer bag), remove as much air as you can, and place it in the fridge
Reusable silicone freezer bag in freezer (lasts up to 3 months)
Use the same method as 2), but place in the freezer!
Place on a plate at room temperature (1 week)
If you want to store ginger without refrigeration, place ginger root on a plate, on your counter. The ginger will keep fresh for up to 1 week before skin starts shrivelling and gets softer.
- Have an "Eat Me First" bin at the front of your fridge
- Store your chopped carrots & celery submerged in water and sealed in a mason jar
- Cover your sliced avocado with lemon juice to avoid browning
After cutting your avocado, leave the pit in whenever possible and splash the avocado flesh with lemon juice.
Next, store sliced avocado in a reusable container with the lid sealed on. That way, your sliced avocado should keep fresh for up to 4 days!
- Freeze your lemon juice in your ice cube tray!
This is perfect if you have a lemon tree, or see a big sale on lemons and want to stock up!
After the lemon juice is frozen, you can pop the frozen lemon juice cubes out of the tray and put them into a container then back into the freezer so you can still use your ice cube tray.
This is a great alternative to buying plastic packaged lemon juice!
- Freeze your roasted garlic in an ice cube tray
This is a great tip on how to reduce food waste! It's one of my favourites because I LOVE roasted garlic and don't want to waste it! Most roasted garlic recipes call for tinfoil, here's how you can roast garlic without tinfoil!
1) Take the skin off the garlic and cut part of the garlic top off, exposing the cloves
2) Place garlic heads in a muffin tin, drizzle with olive oil
3) Place another muffin tin hole-side facing down, on top of the garlic cloves
4) Roast at 400 degrees F. for 40-45 minutes
Once your garlic is roasted, you can squeeze the cloves out of the heads of garlic, mash it up, and stick it in an ice cube tray.
It'll take about an hour for these to firm up in the freezer. Once the roasted garlic is firm you can pop them out of the ice cube tray and into a container!
They'll keep in the freezer for 10-12 months.
- Freeze leftover wine to save for cooking
This may be rare (at least for me), but do you ever find yourself with leftover wine? Maybe after a party or you just don't feel like you want any more?
If so, you can use this super simple trick (probably the next day)! Just freeze your wine in an ice-cube tray to save it for recipes that call for wine!
Keep in mind, wine won't freeze completely and won't be as solid as ice. However it will be solid enough to transfer the wine-cubes to a container once they're frozen!
- Freeze leftover pesto in an ice cube tray for perfect portion cooking!
With this food waste tip you can have pesto available right away all the time!
All you have to do is stick your leftover pesto in ice cube trays, let them freeze, then pop your pesto cubes out of the tray and store them in a container in the freezer! It'll keep in the freezer for up to 12 months.
- Wash your berries in vinegar to make them last longer!
Don't worry! This doesn't make the berries taste like vinegar. This works best with strawberries, but can also extend the life of other berries by a few days to a week! Strawberries are known to last up to two weeks with this method combined with storing them properly after.
The reason why rising berries with vinegar helps extend their life, is the vinegar and water solution destroys bacteria and mold spores.
Here's how you can try this at home:
1) Wash berries in a bowl with 3 cups of water mixed with 1 cup of white vinegar. Drain the berries in a strainer and rinse under running water.
2) Place your berries in salad spinner lined with a tea towel and spin for 15 seconds or until berries are completely dry.
3) Store your berries in cloth-lined sealable container, keeping lid slightly open to allow excess moisture to escape.
Be sure to replace the cloth that's in the container if it gets moist. And that's it! Your berries have been stored to last.
- Store an apple with your potatoes
Learning how to reduce food waste doesn't have to be hard, it can be as simple as placing an apple with potatoes! Apples produce ethylene gas, and ethylene gas keeps potatoes fresher and firmer!
To make your potatoes last as long as possible, store them in a dark, cool room, and away from onions! A good place is in a garage, cellar, or pantry.
Onions actually cause potatoes to sprout early, so if you want to plant a potato, put it near an onion! Onions produce moisture, and the potatoes react to that by spoiling earlier than their supposed to.
- Store uncut onions, garlic, tomato, and cucumber at room temperature
For the tomatoes:
Only store ripe tomatoes away from sunlight on the counter. If your tomatoes aren't ripe yet, keep them in a cardboard box, stem side down, in a single layer (don't stack them).
Be sure to keep this box in a cool, dark room, like a garage or pantry!
Once your tomatoes are ripe, that's it's recommended to put them stem side up on the counter away from sunlight.
For Onion and Garlic:
Make sure you keep onion and garlic away from potatoes, onions and potatoes both release moisture which can lead to faster spoiling
- Store apple slices in water to prevent browning
Cut up apple slices are notoriously known for browning, so I thought I'd share this helpful tip to prevent that!
Simply put your cut up apple slices into a container with cold water, and store in the fridge.
If you have kids and want to send them apple slices as a snack or for lunch, I'd recommend adding an ice pack into the lunch, then sending the apple slices in a sealed container in water.
I've also heard a simple salt brine prevents apples from browning! To do this, mix 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt into 1 cup of cool water until dissolved. Add your sliced apples and soak for about 10 minutes. Drain the apples and store in an airtight container for up to a week! (According to TheKitchn)
- Store fruits and veggies separately
Storing your fruits and veggies separately can make your veggies last longer and reduce food waste! Learning how to reduce food waste can really be as simple as separating your fruits and veggies!
This might be common knowledge to some of you, but I had no idea! So I figured I couldn't be the only one who didn't know this and decided to share it with you in case you didn't know either!
The reason why fruits and veggies shouldn't be stored together, is because fruits produce ethylene gas which can make the vegetables ripen or sprout much faster!
I recommend storing your veggies in a crisper drawer if your fridge has one - if it doesn't, If you keep your fruits and veggies on separate levels in the fridge, that'll do just fine!
Food waste tips (how to make the most of your food)
- Make your own multi-purpose cleaner from lemon peels
Making your own cleaner (to me at least) seemed so daunting before this!! But now it's clear how easy it can be, right?? Here's the recipe:
1) Collect citrus peels (or herbs) and let them soak in water for 2 or more weeks in a sealed jar
2) Dilute the water you used to soak your peels/herbs with an equal amount of vinegar and put that mixture into a spray bottle!
3) (Optional) add essential oils
NOTE: This isn't recommended for cleaning wood or marble because it's highly acidic UNLESS you really dilute this with water (I don't know the exact measurements for this recipe to be safe for wood & marble)
This cleaner will be great for most surfaces in the kitchen such as fridges, counters, and sinks
- Use used & dried tea leaves to clean your carpet
Did you know used dry tea leaves are a fantastic carpet cleaner?
Would you try this?
Here's how you can do this:
1) Take used tea leaves, dry them with a cloth, and leave them on the counter over night or until full dry
2) Sprinkle tea leaves on carpet and wait 10 minutes
3) Vacuum carpet
And that's it! How easy is that? Tea leaves are a great natural carpet cleaner that helps clean musty and dirty carpets.
- Make banana peel bacon from banana peels
How to make banana peel bacon, recipe by 'It Doesn't Taste Like Chicken'
2 very ripe banana peels
3 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon light oil (or more if needed)
1) The riper the banana the better the flavour so pick bananas that are yellow with lots of brown spots. To prepare the banana peels, remove the peels from the bananas and tear into about 4 strips per banana. Use a spoon to lightly scrape off the white inside part of the banana peel leaving just the peel.
2) Make the marinade by mixing the soy sauce, maple syrup, smoked paprika, and garlic powder together in a dish that will fit your banana peels. Add the banana peels and toss to coat. Let marinade for a minimum of 10 minutes, but as long as a few hours.
3) Heat cooking oil in a large skillet or frying pan over medium heat. When hot add the peels and fry a couple of minutes per side, until they are golden and bubble up a little. It may get a little smoky as the sugars will burn so make sure to turn on your hood fan. Remove from pan and drain on cloth. They should get crispier as they cool.
- Make your orange peels into a treat!
Here's how you can make the most of your orange peels, and make them into a treat! Recipe by 'Appetizer Addiction'
2 Large Oranges
1 cup Water (250 ml)
1 cup Sugar (250 ml)
3 ounces Dark Chocolate, 70% Cocoa content (90 grams)
(most dark chocolate with over 50% cocoa is vegan)
1) Wash the oranges thoroughly under running hot water.
2) Cut the top and bottom off. Make 4 or 5 vertical incisions running all the way from top to bottom of the peel and into the flesh.
3) With your hands, remove the peel carefully. Cut each piece into thin strips and transfer them into a pot. Pour over about 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, then drain. Pour fresh water (2 cups) in the same pot and add the peels in. Repeat the same process. This will remove some of the peel’s bitterness.
4) In small sauce pan, dissolve 1 cup sugar in 1 cup water, add the peels and simmer for about 45 minutes or until the peels are translucent.
5) When done, spread them out on a wire rack so the syrup can drip off and the peels can cool completely.
6) Melt the chocolate over a pot of simmering water. Dip the peel in chocolate and using a fork, transfer it onto a baking parchment, aluminum foil, or preferably straight onto the pan or a reusable baking sheet. Let them set completely in the fridge (for about an hour) before serving/enjoying them
- Save your rice water for your plants!
Did you know rice water is packed full of nutrients? It's perfect to help your plants grow! To get the rice water, just rinse your rice over a bowl, so the bowl catches the rinsed rice water.
Rice contains starch, which gives the rice water its opaque, white colour. These starches are great for plants, encouraging healthy bacteria that grow in the roots!
Rice also includes nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, a little bit of these are found in rice water. These minerals all help plants and make them happy!
- Save your coffee grounds for your acidic-loving plants!
This is one of the first tips on how to reduce food waste my parents started putting into practice! Did you know you can use coffee grounds as a natural fertilizer for you plants? There's a trick to using them though...
If used improperly, coffee grounds can inhibit growth of your plant and actually do more damage than good! So what's the right way to use coffee grounds?
According to HGTV, the proper way to use coffee grounds on plants is to spread a thin layer (1/2" max), then cover the coffee grounds with a thick layer of organic matter.
Organic matter could be things like compost, wood chips, and shredded bark.
A few acidic loving plants that would benefit from this are:
- Japanese iris
- Make apple juice from apple scraps! (super easy)
Here's how to reduce food waste and by making apple juice from scraps:
1) Remove seeds (optional) and add water about an inch above the apple cores and apple peels if you have them.
2) Bring the water to a boil and then let simmer for 30 minutes.
3) Strain through fine mesh strainer or cloth to separate apple from juice
4) You can add sugar, stevia, monk fruit, etc if you like sweeter apple juice
And that's it! You can put it in the fridge to cool down and you've successfully made homemade apple juice! This awesome recipe is from the amazing Anna from Green Talk!
- Make a DIY bug repellent from orange peel scraps!
This is how easy this recipe is:
1) Fill mason jar with orange peels
2) Fill container with white vinegar so peels are completely submerged
3) Put a lid on it and let it sit for 2 weeks
4) Separate vinegar and peels and put into a spray bottle!
- Make banana peel plant fertilizer (the best plant fertilizer ever)
Banana peels have a lot of potassium and small amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and magnesium! This is what makes them such a great natural houseplant fertilizer.
1) Take your banana peels, and let them soak in water for a couple of days.
2) Take your banana peels out of the water and compost them, then water your plants with the banana-soaked water!
- Save the water you boiled your potatoes in!
Potato water contains a lot of starch, and plants love starch! Just make sure your potato water isn't salted, that can harm your plants!
You can use this potato water alongside your plant fertilizer, not to replace it! Before water your plants with potato water, give your potato water a good shake to stir up the nutrients.
This is a great way to reduce water waste. If you prefer salting your potato water, maybe try it once without salting it - storing that unsalted potato water for your plants - then salting your other potato water until you need more water for your plants!
- Make Apple Cider Vinegar from apple scraps!
Did you know you can save your apple cores and peels and make apple cider vinegar super easily? Here's how you can make it:
1) Fill jar 3/4 full of apple cores & peels
2) Fill jar with water and mix in 1 tbsp of sugar until dissolved, make sure your apple scraps are completely submerged!
3) Place cloth over the jar lid, and use a rubber band or string to tie the cloth tightly around the jar opening
4) Let the mixture sit for 3 weeks, then strain and compost the apple scraps
5) Let liquid sit for another 3 weeks without the apple scraps
If a gelatinous blob develops on the top of your vinegar, that's called a vinegar "mother". The mother can be use to kick-start your future apple cider vinegar batches!
You can remove the mother and store it separately in a sealed container, or you can let it float around in the vinegar as you store it.
- Boil your egg shells for a calcium-rich fertilizer
Do you eat eggs? If you do, don't compost the shells just yet! You might want to try this super simple eggshell fertilizer to give your plants the calcium they need.
1) Throw 10 to 20 eggshells into a pot and fill the pot with water
2) Bring it to a boil, then turn the heat off
3) Let the eggshells sit in the pot with the lid on over night
4) Remove the eggshells, and use calcium water on your plants once a week
- Use your banana peels to shine your plant leaves
Before composting your banana peels, try taking a piece of the peel off and wiping your plants' leaves with it! This will remove the dust, any pet hair, dirt, or anything else that might be on your plant leaves!
- Save your pasta water for your plants (has to be unsalted water)
Pasta water is full of nutrients, it's perfect for plants. Just make sure you let it cool down before giving your plants a drink!
This is a super easy way to save water:
1) Just cook your pasta as you normally would (but make sure you don't salt the water)
2) Take the noodles out of the water once they're cooked
3) Let the pasta water cool
4) Use the water to water your plants!
When the pasta cooks in boiling water, vitamins, minerals and starch is released into the water. This leaves the perfect meal for your garden or indoor plants! Your plants will thank you for learning how to reduce food waste with this method!
- Revive your wilted leafy greens with an ice bath
Did you know you can revive wilted lettuce, kale, cabbage, spinach, and all other leafy greens with this simple trick?
Here's exactly what to do if you want to try this:
1) Remove the ends (root side) of your leafy greens
2) Submerge your greens in ice water, add a few slices of lemon (optional)
3) Leave greens submerged for 30 minutes to an hour until crisp, the more greens you have in there the longer it'll take to crisp up
4) Dry your leafy greens and enjoy!
Some people add lemon to this because it's known to speed up the process of crisping your greens up again!
Unfortunately this process can destroy some water soluble vitamins such as Vitamin B and Vitamin C, because they leach into the water.
But the good news is that means your plants will love the water! Although Vitamin B doesn't have any effect of plant growth, Vitamin C is essential for plant growth!
- Firm up strawberries with little bruises
Just take your bruised looking mushy strawberries, place it in a bowl of ice and water for 20 minutes, and it should come out firmer and a brighter red!
Keep in mind this won't work for strawberries that have actually gone bad.
- Revive kale by treating it like a flower!
Learning how to reduce food waste can be as simple as this! Did you know you can treat kale like flowers to revive them? Cut the kale stems on an angle an inch from the bottom with sharp scissors or a knife, put them in a jar of water, then into the fridge (the fridge part isn't really flower related).
Your kale should be crisp and ready to be cooked in a few hours! If your kale leaves are already off of the stem, simply submerge the leaves in icy water for 30 min, take them out & dry, and they should be back to normal!
- Revive your stale bread
Did you know you can easily revive stale bread? All you have to do is...
1) Run your stale bread under the tap (it seems weird but it works)
2) Pop the bread on a tray and into your oven on the "warm" setting, or at 200° for a few minutes
3) Make sure you check on it and leave it in the oven or take it out as needed!
To prevent your bread from going stale too often, try freezing it! If you have a lot of bread and don't think you'll be able to finish it before it goes stale, toss it in a cotton bag then throw it in the freezer!
Seeing how to reduce food waste is a really important area in sustainable living, with these tips you'll be sure to save a TON of food! If you learned something new, please share this on social media so others can learn something new too!