Ahem, excuse me. Does this sound like you?
It's the end of the week. You don't know what to do with all the odds and ends in your fridge. Your coping mechanism of choice is to go out to eat.
Before every garbage day, you use oven mitts and tongs to clean out your fridge and take a moment to say RIP to all the disgusting things.
You're losing money because food is being wasted. You think about all the ice cream you could have purchased with all that money.
Sometimes you reflect on how your kitchen habits are a huge part of a global food waste problem and that you should do something about it. And then don't.
If any of these resonate with you, we've rounded up the ultimate list of things you can do to create a waste-free kitchen. Changing our habits isn't easy, but picking even one or two out of this list can make a difference to your health and the environment.
1. Audit your waste.
Emma Rohmann, environmental engineer and founder of Green At Home, suggests taking a close look at what you're putting into the garbage, compost and recycling. That way you can make a plan to reduce the things you're tossing.
2. Meal plan, meal plan, meal plan.
What does your schedule look like this week? Build a meal plan around it. If you know it's going to be busy, slot in quick and easy recipes like overnight oats for breakfast all week. Fewer surprises mean a greater chance at using up all the food you have at home.
3. Shop at your local farmer's market.
Local produce will have less packaging since there is less transportation involved. Most places will also reuse the berry boxes and egg cartons if you return them.
4. Buy reusable produce bags.
Replace those thin, flimsy plastic bags from the supermarket. Cloth produce bags can be machine-washed when soiled and are thin enough that they don't add extra costs upon checkout.
5. Shop with a grocery list.
When you know exactly what you came for, you'll be less likely to over-shop or buy on impulse which can lead you to waste both food and money.
6. Learn to cook beans.
Cut down on cans by learning how to cook beans at home. It's actually super easy and you can do it in the slow cooker too. A huge batch can be frozen for later use.
7. Bring reusable containers when buying bulk items.
Some places like Bulk Barn in Canada have implemented Reusable Container Programs, encouraging customers to reduce their carbon footprint by bringing their own containers. It's pretty awesome.
8. Be conscious of what you buy
Choose products with less (or no) packaging.
9. Save veggie peels and bones to make broth.
Not only does this extend the life of your food, it also reduces the need to purchase boxes and boxes of broth. So save all those scraps and toss them in a freezer bag!
10. Invest in reusable food containers, including water bottles and travel mugs.
Ditch the daily plastic water bottles and paper coffee cups. Make your tea or coffee at home and take it to go. Or give your tumbler to the barista at your favourite coffee shop to fill up.
11. Replace paper towel with wash cloths.
12. Replace plastic wrap with beeswax food wrap.
Image via Abeego
13. Create an "eat me first" bin in your fridge.
Place any items that need to be eaten sooner rather than later in a designated bin in your fridge. No longer will foods be forgotten and left to rot at the back of the bottom drawer.
14. Eat less meat.
A big portion of greenhouse gas emissions are created by animal agriculture. Try adding vegan or vegetarian meals into your weekly rotations. You can implement Meatless Mondays or create a vegetarian menu for the week.
15. Learn to use your freezer like a boss.
When you know what to freeze, what not to freeze, and all the little tricks (like freezing pesto in ice cube trays), you can really end up saving so much food. You also end up building an emergency stash for when you just don't feel like cooking.
16. Learn to repurpose leftovers.
What to do with all those odds and ends? Freeze them for later, make a smoothie, puree it into soup, turn it into a wrap or create a tortilla pizza in 10 minutes.
17. Start a worm compost.
Vermicomposting is cheap and possibly the coolest way to reduce food waste by turning it into something useful like nutrient-rich soil for plants. It's also probably a lot easier than you think.
18. Clean up your kitchen cleaning products.
Whip up homemade cleaners using just a few natural and inexpensive ingredients, some of which may already be in your pantry. Here's how!
Are you thinking about going waste-free? How many practices have you already adopted from this list? Are there any tips or tricks we missed? We'd love for you to share your secrets with us in the comments below!