To further raise awareness of the global issue surrounding wasted food, in 2017, we created Stop Food Waste Day, an international day of action, to share solutions in our cafes and across social media that address food waste at the source and in the home. Stop Food Waste Day is observed annually during the last week of Earth Month (April) to inform clients & guests about the environmental, social, and financial impact of food waste and provide tips on ways to save food at home.
For this year’s celebration, we asked our Registered Dietitians (RDNs) for their favorite tips to reduce food waste.
I shop more frequently throughout the week. This helps me focus on buying only what I know I’ll eat for the next few days; helps keep my trips to the store short and sweet; helps reduce the food I do buy ending up in the trash because I don’t use it. I take into consideration leftovers and restaurant meals. And if I do buy something that I end up not using, I put it in the freezer and then take note to use soon! – Tracy Wilczek, FLIK Hospitality Group
Shakeira Morton with Morrison Healthcare suggests taking an inventory before grocery shopping to prevent buying more than what’s needed. Meal plan using foods on hand first before shopping for more. After shopping, understand dates on products and organizing foods to ensure FIFO (first in first out) is followed.
If you buy bunches of fresh herbs and they go bad before you can use them, make an herb pesto or a chimichurri sauce using stems and all (zero waste). This works best with herbs that have non-woody stems like parsley, cilantro, and basil. You can use these sauces on eggs, dip for veggies, sandwich spread, pasta sauce, salad dressing, sauce for roasted veggies or on grilled seafood/poultry/beef/pork. The options are practically endless, and you won’t be throwing any herbs away. – Michelle Sadlowski, Eurest
Make refrigerator nachos! So many leftovers make awesome and interesting toppings for nachos. When you have small bites or random proteins leftover that may not be enough for a whole meal, toss them on top of some tortilla chips, add cheese, and broil for a quick and easy nacho app or meal. – Terri Brownlee, Bon Appetit Management Group
My favorite tip is to freeze tomato paste. Usually, a recipe only calls for a couple tablespoons, so I just freeze the rest and it ends up lasting me a few weeks! – Aimee Takamura Koehler, Restaurant Associates
My favorite thing to do with food scraps is make healing broths, salad dressings and pestos; and anything leftover I compost and feed to my pet ducks and chickens “Larry and the Ladies.” – Suzanne Landry, Eurest
When I buy a whole pineapple that I prepare to eat, I cut off the top and bottom of the fruit. I take the top with the green spiky leaves and plant it outside in a site that gets partial sun avoiding sun at the hottest part of the day. In about 1 year, the plant begins to sprout a baby pineapple. With several opportunities throughout the year to plant pineapple trimmings, I have 3 plants budding fruit and have planted trimmings in our common areas in my subdivision. Can’t wait to see if they all blossom! – Courtney Spurlock, TouchPoint
Understanding and Expanding the Lifespan of Foods
My favorite tip is to freeze bananas that are starting to go bad. I always recommend peeling them first before storing them in the freezer. They are great for smoothies, banana bread, pancakes, and other desserts! Sometimes I buy bananas in bulk with the expectation I will freeze some. – Stephanie Dorfman, CulinArt
Storage Tips from Syd Watkins with Chartwells Higher Ed:
- Storing milk: store in coldest area- back bottom shelf
- Storing eggs: original carton – center of fridge
- Storing packaged raw meat: store on tray, bottom shelf
- Higher humidity for lettuce and leafy greens
- Lower humidity for apples, pears, stone fruit
- Ripen at room temperature then refrigerate: avocado, bananas, kiwis, mango, peaches, pears, tomatoes
- Room temperature fruits: pineapples, ginger, squash, eggplant, basil
- Store in cool, dark pantry: potato, sweet potato, garlic, and onion
If I am tempted to buy something at a big box store in a size larger than I can use myself, I divide it up into smaller containers that I can “gift” to friends. My most recent example was a large jar of capers……many of my friends were delighted to receive a small jar of them and I didn’t wind up throwing the excess away. – Deanne Brandstetter, Envision Group
Invest in a vacuum sealer. They are less then $100 and allow you to buy proteins in bulk. I buy the large packs of chicken, pork and sausage; portion enough for my family’s meals and then seal the rest. I also use this when I make batches of stocks, stews or braised meats. Sealing and freezing the leftovers allows me to freeze them for months without freezer burn. – Nicole Feneli, FLIK Hospitality Group