If you love spending time in the kitchen, you probably have to deal with food waste during your creative cooking and baking projects. From cutting away scraps to cleaning out old leftovers from your fridge, you might find your kitchen trash can filling up quickly. However, if you want to commit to a new food recycling plan and avoid contributing to food waste in America, there are a few strategies you can use to make use of leftover foods, liquids, and containers.
1. Create a Compost Pile
Whether you decide to create compost in a corner of your yard or use a compost bin, the process is not a difficult one. You may even be surprised about how much kitchen waste can be included. The compost you create can feed your backyard garden and may make your flowers, fruits, and vegetables more robust.
Your compost pile will typically consist of three layers. The bottom layer includes dead leaves, old garden clippings, and paper from your kitchen, including shredded newspaper, butcher paper, and parchment paper. To create the second layer, toss in fruit and vegetable scraps and rinds. Do not include meat trimmings, however. Top these layers with an inch or so of garden soil and then keep adding more layers until you have enough to turn. The nutrient-rich compost can be used in your garden and reduce food waste considerably.
2. Reuse Cereal Box Liners
While cardboard cereal boxes are typically accepted as recyclable product, the inner waxy lining may be more of a challenge to reuse. However, they can be employed for a variety of cooking and baking projects and help you cut down on using wax paper. For example, you can wipe down or rinse the lining of cereal boxes and cut them open to set fresh-baked cookies on. Also, you can cut them to size and put them in between homemade hamburger patties to keep them from sticking together.
3. Make Use of Bread Ends
Whether you make homemade bread or buy it packaged, you may find that your family members often neglect to use the bread ends until they go moldy or stale. Since bread is not suitable for your compost pile, you would have little choice but to toss them away. However, there is a way they might be useful for your cooking projects, and the simplest solution is to turn them into breadcrumbs.
It might be useful to get into the habit of setting bread ends aside ahead of time so you do not forget about them. Collect a small pile and then blend them in an electric mixer with butter, salt, and pepper to make a delicious coating for a variety of meat recipes. This is also an excellent way to avoid the preservatives and additives that might be present in store-bought breadcrumbs and if you or anyone in the family are sensitive to such substances.
4. Practice Water Conservation While Cooking
Saving water in the kitchen can be a good habit to practice as you cook. This is especially important if you live in an area that is subject to drought, such as California. Avoid letting water run without collecting it for another purpose, and defrost meat and other foods in the microwave instead of holding it under running water.
When you wash dishes or utensils, conserve water by rinsing them all at once in a plastic or stainless-steel rack. The Cadiz Water Project has more information about water conservation in California and how project members are working to create a new and sustainable water supply.
Cutting back on food, liquid, and container waste while cooking and baking can be challenging for any kitchen connoisseur. However, with a bit of know-how and planning, you can save time, money, and help the environment each time you set out to make a new culinary treat.