Tuesday, May 7, 2013

How to Avoid Produce Waste


If you are trying to cut your grocery bill, reducing waste is a great place to start. We waste between 14-25% of the food we buy. Produce is commonly wasted since it seems to go bad in the blink of an eye. Planning ahead can help you to stop wasting the produce you pay good money for.

* If you buy produce in bulk, have a plan to use it. Plan the week's meals around that item, or preserve some of it so none goes to waste. If you buy a huge bag of potatoes, use some to make mashed potatoes, then the leftovers can be made into mashed potato soup or potato pancakes. You can also dehydrate apples for a wonderful snack with a long shelf-life.

* If your garden gives you a surplus, preserve it for later. Can, freeze or dehydrate as much as possible to stretch the harvest. A glut of tomatoes can be made into tomato sauce, salsa and sun-dried tomatoes. Zucchini can be shredded and frozen to use in baking later. Peppers freeze well, although the texture will be slightly different.

* For 1-2 person households, go small when you buy lettuce. At my local grocery store, all types of lettuce sell for $1.99/lb. I buy "little gem" lettuce instead of larger heads of lettuce. It costs the same amount per pound, but since I can easily get through the smaller head, I don't waste any.

* Use the dehydrator to avoid waste. If I buy several tomatoes and they start to get a tad overripe before I get to use them fresh, I slice them thin and dehydrate for mock sun-dried tomatoes that I can use on pizza or sandwiches. If bananas turn black, I sl
ice thin and dehydrate for a delicious snack. When celery starts to get a bit limp, I dehydrate it to use in soups. If there is only 1-2 in your household, it can be hard to eat an entire package of produce before it goes bad (3lb bags of oranges/apples, 1 lb containers strawberries, etc). Dehydrate half of the produce as soon as you get home to use later.

* Dehydrate celery leaves or any vegetables that would otherwise go to waste to make veggie powder. Simply crumble or grind in a clean coffee grinder. Use this powder to add flavor to omelets or bread or to make vegetable soup.

*Zest lemons, oranges or limes and dry them on a tray in a dry, dark place. Use to add flavor to baked goods.

* When bananas turn black, toss them whole into the freezer. Use to make smoothies or banana bread. Just microwave for 30 seconds and peel easily.

* When apples start to get soft, core and chop them. Simmer in a small amount of water with cinnamon and sugar (optional) until soft. Blend for wonderful applesauce.

* Use leftover bits of vegetables or parts of vegetables that would usually be thrown away to make stock. Celery leaves, carrot peels and onion skins can be simmered in water with or without chicken bones for practically-free stock.

* Sometimes you can cut out bad parts and still have a decent amount left, for example, cut out eyes from potatoes. Our grandparents commonly did this and lived to tell the tale.

* Get creative. Make watermelon rind pickles. Make tea from cherry stems. Eat watermelon or squash seeds, roasted with salt.

* Regrow it. While I haven't tried this yet, some people have had good luck regrowing produce such as green onions, celery, pineapple, avocado, romaine lettuce or onions from scraps. Here are some links for more info: How to Regrow Foods, Regrowing Your Produce.

* Bake potato peels with cheese and seasonings for a great appetizer.

* If you are ever making a monster batch of applesauce like I do on my family's Apple Processing Day, you can use the peels and cores to make apple cider/juice.

* Pulp leftover from juicing can be added to muffins for extra fiber. This works especially well if you add chocolate chips or nuts.

* Have a vegetable soup container in the freezer. Whenever you have leftover veggies such as tomatoes, celery, onions, green beans, carrots, potatoes, peas, corn, etc you can toss it in. Once it's full thaw and add veggie broth or tomato sauce and seasonings for an almost-free soup.

* Excess produce can be added to baked goods such as muffins, brownies or breads. Zucchini, squash, pumpkins, apples, berries, carrots, or even potatoes can be mixed in.

* Feed kitchen scraps to chickens, ducks, rabbits, hogs or goats. Get it back as eggs, milk, meat and compost.

* Feed to worms for supreme fertilizer for the garden. If you don't have a worm bin, start a compost bin in a trash can with drainage holes drilled into it.

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1 comment:

  1. I am also fond of using a blender to blend up any vegetables or fruits that I can't use fast enough. I freeze the puree in ice cube trays then store in a plastic bag to pull out for smoothies or to hide in other foods as suggested in other blog entries. For example, blended carrots and or spinach can't be detected by picky eaters in tomato based soups or sauces. Bananas I throw in the freezer whole to use in banana bread, and peppers get sliced or cut in half then frozen to pull out for sauces or sautéed dishes (like fajitas).

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