Green Being
Green Bean Salad with Red Beets

How to Manage Food Waste

If you stocked up on food, preparing for this period of social distancing, then it is important to manage and utilize fresh food to either be cooked and consumed or preserved for later. According to Project Drawdown, reducing food waste is one of the top-five ways to reduce to greenhouse gas emissions. Follow these tips and strategies for managing ingredients and reduce food waste at home at the same time.

In our new reality of minimal social contact, disrupted supply chains, and overall decline in everyday commerce, conserving food is essential.

Tips for Reducing Food Waste

Cook in bulk.

Try to making food in batches. With all members in the household at home, having a variety of ready to eat items available will help to ensure that food is enjoyed and not wasted. Imagine having a variety of prepared ingredients that can be mixed and matched to create new meals.

Focus less on exact recipe amounts and more on total utilization of the ingredients that you have. Leftovers can be transformed into different dishes or just enjoyed on their own.

Seasoned potatoes on a sheet tray prior to baking.
Cooking in bulk keeps us ahead of demand and can relieve stress in the kitchen.

Blanch Green Vegetables

Broccoli, green beans, snap peas, and even asparagus make for great snacks while at home. Dip them in hummus or just enjoy them by themselves. Par cook green vegetables in boiling, salted water until they have just a slight crunch when eaten. At this stage, immediate submersion in ice water will preserve the green color.

Try par cooking vegetables in bulk, so that you can just add them to a vegetable stir-fry without even having to think about it!

How To Blanch Green Vegetables

Prepare cooking water

Fill a stock pot with water and add a generous amount of salt. Make it taste like the ocean. Cover and heat to a rolling boil.

Preparing to blanch green beans.
Get vegetables ready to go

Prep vegetables. Snip green beans. Clean up broccoli stalks into manageable florets. Keep your food organized and cut to uniform size.

Begin the cooking process

Prepare an ice bath in a large container. Place vegetables into the boiling water.

Blanching green beans in boiling salted water
Keep an eye on things

Stand by and periodically sample your vegetables for doneness. They should have just a slight crunch.

Remove and shock

Use a pair tongs to remove vegetables from boiling water and transfer to ice bath. The ice cold water shocks green vegetables by rapidly cooling them helping to set the natural, vibrant green color.

Remove excess water

Let your vegetables dry before storing in the refrigerator.

Green beans drying on a towel

Inventory Your Fresh Food

Taking a quick peak through your fresh produce and fruit on a daily basis will help in keeping track of what is ripening or losing its crispness. Use these items at the next meal.

For example, I placed two mangoes, a banana, and three kiwi that were at peak ripeness on my cutting board prior to going to bed. The next morning, all I had to do was make a quick fruit salad while heating water for coffee.
This strategy will also inspire creativity and experimentation when focusing on ingredients that need to be consumed right away.

If you can’t eat it, freeze it!

Perhaps you bought fresh fruit like berries, pineapple, or even bananas. All of these can be vacuum packed using a Food Saver or sealed well in Zip-Loc bags and frozen for later use in a smoothie or to add interest to a bowl of oatmeal.

Freeze leftover roasted vegetables to add to soups or pasta bakes. Caramelize bell peppers and onions, freeze, and use another time in black bean burritos.

Get creative!

Yes. There are interesting ways to use odds and ends. Finely chop celery leaves as you would parsley to add color and interest to steamed brown rice. Roast celery stalks with carrots and potatoes seasoned with paprika, cumin, and turmeric.

Challenge yourself to combine different ingredients or come up with two or three new ways to utilize the same ingredient.