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How to Reduce Food Waste at Home (and Keep Your Produce Fresh Longer!)

Hacks and habits to minimize food waste

Food waste is a major issue around the world. According to the National Zero Waste Council’s research on household food waste in Canada, almost $49 billion in food goes to waste. If we were to factor in the cost it takes to produce that wasted food, that number would increase to $100 billion.  Food production impacts the environment, as resources such as water for growing crops and fuel for transporting food contribute to climate change.

The good news is that there are many things you can do to decrease your food waste. At Vegano, we are committed to our zero waste initiative, so if you are ordering our meal kits which we portion to ensure minimal to no food goes to waste, you’re already taking a step in the right direction. Here are a few other things you can do at home to decrease the amount of food that goes to waste, as well as some cool hacks to make your food last longer.

1.) Start with a list and plan ahead

Plan your meals for the week and make a grocery list. Make sure to check your fridge and pantry before you head to the store to ensure that you don’t buy something you already have. When you get to the store, stick to your game plan and only buy things on the list. Making a weekly habit of this will save you so much time, both at the market and at home.

2.) Eating out

If you’re at a restaurant and didn’t finish your meal, take your leftovers home. Instead of relying on takeout containers which usually end up in the trash, bring a glass container from home to pack your food to go.

3.) “Best by” and expiration dates

The manufacturer usually puts the best by dates on food products as a reference for retailers, and these dates don’t necessarily mean the food has gone bad. The good thing about plant-based foods is that consuming something past its best by date doesn’t pose the same health risk as an animal product. 

4.) Veggie scraps

If you have any leftover veggie scraps, use them to make a vegetable broth or sauce. We do this at Vegano and have made some pretty tasty soups from veggies that would have otherwise ended up in the compost bin.

5.) Don’t go to the store on an empty stomach

Almost everyone is guilty of doing this (we know we are), and it always results in impulsive food purchases. Make sure you’ve eaten before you head to the grocery store, and make sure you stick to that list. 

Make your produce last longer with 11 easy hacks!

1.) Preserve finicky avocados

Brush avocado halves with lemon juice or olive oil to prevent them from browning and store them in a glass container in the fridge. Citric acid slows down the oxidation process, and olive oil creates a seal that also prevents oxidation. Avocados are tricky, and they go from not ready, not ready, to ready! And then too late :(. If you find yourself with ripe avocados that you won’t eat right away, cube them and store them in the freezer. Thaw your avocado to make guacamole at a later date.

2.) Do NOT rinse your produce before storing it in the fridge

Damp produce combined with the cool temperature in your fridge can cause it to deteriorate faster (which is one reason your veggies from Vegano don’t come prewashed!). Just remember to wash your produce before you eat it.

3.) Vinegar bath for berries

Toss your berries in a bowl with one part vinegar and three parts water, rinse, and dry thoroughly. This solution kills surface bacteria and can extend their freshness for several days in the fridge.

4.) Cut the tops off root vegetables like carrots and beets

Keeping the leafy green stems on your root vegetables causes them to deteriorate more quickly. Quickly chop the tops off before storing them in the fridge.

5.) Hydrate your asparagus

Have you ever bought asparagus only to find it limp and unappetizing a few days later? A great way to prevent this is by trimming the bottoms of your asparagus and storing them upright in a container of water. Loosely cover them with a plastic bag, and they should stay crisp for a week or more.

6.) Paper bag your mushrooms

Mushrooms do best in dry, cool, dark environments. Keeping mushrooms in paper bags prevents condensation by wicking away moisture, allowing them to stay fresh longer.

7.) Freeze herbs with olive oil

Chop herbs, place them in an ice cube tray, cover them with olive oil and store the tray in the freezer. Pop out perfectly portioned cubes to use in stir-frys or to sauté other veggies.

8.) Revive wilted greens

Is your kale looking a little sad? Trim the ends off and place the wilted kale in a jar with cold water, and after an hour, they should perk up. Revive other leafy greens like spinach by giving them a quick ice bath. If that doesn’t work, toss them in a blender or food processor, and freeze the liquified greens in ice cube trays. Add them to smoothies for some extra nutritional punch.

9.) Pickle red onions

Place sliced red onions in a mason jar and fill it with 1 part vinegar, one part warm water, and a pinch of sugar and salt. Store in the fridge and use these tasty pickled onions in salads, sandwiches, or our personal favourite, vegan caesars.

10.) Freeze your ginger

Ginger freezes really well and maintains its taste even after thawing it. Finely chop ginger and place it in an ice cube tray or cube it and store in a glass jar. Thaw as needed, or if you have an upset stomach chew some frozen ginger — ginger has so many uses and keeping some in the freezer ensures you will always have some on hand.

11.) Lemon peel cleaner

Instead of tossing lemon peels into the compost bin, collect them in a glass jar, add equal parts white vinegar and water, and let them soak for two weeks. The result is a highly effective environmentally friendly cleaner with a refreshing citrus scent.

These are just a few simple things that you can do right at home to reduce food waste and help minimize your environmental impact. Even little things such as being mindful of your consumer habits will make you think twice about buying excess, benefitting your pocketbook and the planet.

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