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Let Nothing Go To Waste
Let Nothing Go To Waste

Let Nothing Go To Waste

Fruits and veggies have a short shelf life. Despite our best intentions, it’s often difficult to use all of the fresh produce items we purchase. According to the USDA, approximately 30-40% of the U.S. food supply is wasted, with a significant portion being produce.

If your fruits and veggies are past their peak, there are plenty of creative ways to incorporate them into recipes, as well as different techniques to use the entirety of the ingredient or save their roots for regrowth. Use the following produce-saving suggestions to enjoy fresh fruits and veggies, and repurpose them for future use with zero waste.

Tips for Reducing Food Waste

> Before shopping, create a meal plan for your produce items.

> Carve some time in your schedule to slice, dice or prep your produce ahead of time. If you don’t have time for that, purchase pre-sliced veggies or frozen varieties.

> Store produce in a prominent place in the fridge and check it often to keep track of what needs to be used. If you can’t eat items before you need to throw them away, freeze them! Find more information on how to properly store and use all kinds of fruits and veggies at Produceforkids.com.

> Prepare produce in different ways to stay inspired and enthusiastic about produce-packed meals. Grill romaine, corn and asparagus, roast Brussels sprouts, jicama or potatoes, or spiralize squash and beets.

Creative Ways to Eat More Produce

Pickled Vegetables

Pickling is an excellent preservation method that boosts produce’s shelf life and nutritional value. Place chopped veggies, such as cucumbers, carrots, peppers and squash, in a clean glass jar. Pour in a brine made with equal parts cider vinegar and water, along with garlic, spices and herbs, then refrigerate. The fermentation creates gut-nourishing ingredients that support the digestive system. Add pickled veggies to salads, sandwiches, grain bowls or tacos.

Homemade Vegetable Broth

Use vegetables and scraps to create homemade vegetable broth for soups, sauces, dressings and more. Simmer a combination of veggies like celery, carrots and onions, as well as mushroom stems, asparagus and onion ends, fennel stalks and trimmings, and potato parings in water with herbs and seasonings for 30 to 45 minutes.

Fruit Ice Cubes

Use up seasonal fruit by making fruity ice cubes that add a tasty, refreshing punch to drinks. Blend fruit with lemon juice, water and sugar. Pour the mixture into ice cube molds and freeze. Add fruity cubes to water or sparkling water, lemonade or adult-friendly beverages.

Replant Your Waste

Instead of tossing your produce scraps and roots in the trash, save them and use them for regrowth. This reduces food waste and saves money while contributing to the sustainability of our food supply. Regrowing produce at home is also a fun science project for the kids, plus it gives them a bit of responsibility.

Romaine Lettuce, Bok Choy & Cabbage: Place the bottom stumps or leftover leaves in a half-inch of water. Keep the bowl in the sunlight and mist with water. After three to four days, roots and new leaves will appear. When this happens, transport the plant to soil. When you have enough green leaves sprouting, add them to your favorite recipes and enjoy!

Green Onions & Leeks: Cut about an inch from the roots and leave them in a glass or bowl of water, making sure roots are pointing down. Change the water every few days, and you should see fully grown green onions or leeks in about one week.

Garlic: Place garlic cloves in small amount of water, making sure they’re root-side down. After one week, there will be extensive root growth and there should be some greens sprouting. Plant the cloves about one to two inches deep in a pot of soil. The garlic will be ready to harvest in about six to nine months.

Composting At Home

Another way to reduce waste is by composting in your garden. Composting is the process of reusing leftover food scraps, as well as yard waste, to produce fertilizer. Its benefits include keeping food scraps out of landfills and reducing greenhouse gases. Adding compost to your garden soil increases the organic matter, helps plants absorb nutrients, reduces the need for chemical fertilizers and lowers your carbon footprint. To compost, you’ll need a combination of vegetable waste, fruit scraps or coffee grounds, as well as twigs, dead leaves and water. For more tips and resources on the basics of composting at home, visit www.epa.gov/recycle/composting-home.

To learn more about the impact of food waste across the nation and simple ways to reduce your food waste at home, visit www.usda.gov/foodlossandwaste.