I’m down in Oregon for a ten day photoshoot. Working on set every day, styling ten to twelve recipes a day, has me intensely aware of the issue of food waste. When I’m working at home on a blog post, we always eat any leftovers for our next meal, but with a project like the one I’m currently immersed in, there’s no way we can eat all the food we’re making and there are always leftover ingredients that go bad in the back of the fridge. I’ve been trying to go with the flow and not worry too much about it, but the reality is that food waste is an issue I’ve always felt strongly about and I’m not the type to sit idly by. Forty percent of food in the U.S. is wasted. That’s almost half and it’s not only a problem environmentally, but disrespects the hard work put into producing our food and disregards the people who don’t have enough to eat. It seems to me that the best way to show our gratitude for the bounty we have is to be diligent about preventing it from going to waste. I’m doing what I can and wanted to share some simple tips with you to help you reduce your own food waste.
- Plan ahead. Plan meals for the week and then shop with a list to avoid buying things you don’t need that will likely end up in the back of the pantry. Only buy what you know you’ll use.
- Only cook what you can eat. It’s better to make half a recipe than have leftovers that might go bad in the fridge. If you do make extra, make sure it’s something that will hold up well for a few days like a soup, stew or bean dish.
- Repurpose. Sometimes leftovers get boring. Be creative and invent new dishes with your leftovers.
- Check in. I scan the contents of my fridge every few days to see what might be on the verge of going bad so I can make sure to use that ingredient first.
- Storage matters. Think about food waste in a broader context and also focus on the waste you generate while buying, cooking and storing your groceries and leftovers. Bring your own grocery bags (if you forget, opt for a single paper bag instead of a double or plastic), use cloth bags for buying produce or bulk items, consider using eco-friendly kitchen solutions like Silpats or Bee’s Wrap and store food in reusable glass or stainless containers that will last.
- Recycle empty bottles, cans or cartons.
- Compost what you don’t eat or make friends with someone who has chickens or pigs.
- Donate extra non-perishables to your local food bank (many grocery stores serve as drop off locations).
These baked beans are a staple in our house. They are simple to make and packed with smokey sweet and sour flavor. Throw them on a toasted bun with some crunchy cabbage slaw and you have a perfect weeknight summer meal. Enjoy!