How the Food & Wine Test Kitchen Reduces Food Waste on a Daily Basis

Here are 11 easy-to-follow tips that you can bring into your own kitchen.

food waste
Photo: Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

With Earth Day upon us, it's important to shine a light on leaders in the food world who are pushing the envelope when it comes to sustainability. They're fighting food waste and showing the world that eco-friendly practices aren't just good for the planet, but for a restaurant or home cook's bottom line, too.

In the Food & Wine test kitchen, our own staff has built eco-friendly practices into their routines as well. Whether they're composting food scraps or using metal or glass straws (they were doing it before it became all the rage!), their methods are totally accessible and easy to do. Since we're all working remotely now, we bringing these habits into our own kitchens as well.

1. Compost all leftover food scraps, bones and peels.

If you don't have your own compost bin, you can take your scraps to the greenmarket (when things open up again). And if you don't have space in your tiny kitchen to hold food scraps, or are worried that they'll start to smell, store them in a bag in your freezer until you're ready to bring them to the compost bin.

2. Use compostable plates and wash and reuse compostable utensils.

It's worth the investment and there are a lot of great options out there, from basic to more elegant.

3. Buy seasonally available foods and freeze leftovers for future use.

All this takes is a little planning before hitting the supermarket. Don't go without a list, and jot down quantities so that you don't buy too much before your next shop. Buying in bulk is a smarter choice for the times we live in.

4. Freeze bones, carcasses, and even veggie peels to make stocks.

Using food scraps for stock doesn't just cut down on waste, either. It's better for your bottom line and makes better-tasting broth, too.

5. Use leftover citrus peels and herb stems to infuse white vinegar for an all-purpose cleaner.

Our associate food editor Kelsey Youngman swears by this homemade, natural cleaner, which isn't just good for the environment, but smells great, too.

6. They use metal or glass straws.

In the U.K., everyone from McDonald's to Wagamama is hopping on this trend, but Youngman's been doing this for years.

7. Recycle and compost instead of throwing out whenever possible.

It's one small step that has a huge impact. If it seems like too much effort, then you don't have the right set up. Buy a proper bin for composting and recycling once, make it easy on yourself forever.

8. Do a weekly fridge and freezer check to avoid things going to waste.

It's a good day when we get the remnants of recipe testing from the test kitchen, but you can do the same in your own kitchen. Take stock of what you need to use up before it expires or wilts. Once things return to normal (after the pandemic) if you're heading out of town, check in with your friends or neighbors to see if you can give anything away.

9. Use glasses and pitchers for drinking water instead of plastic cups or bottles.

In normal times, whether you're at the office or going to a coffee shop, you can bring your own mug or cup. If you're anything like us, you drink a lot of coffee, and those paper cups add up. While at home during quarantine, opt for a pitcher with a water filter instead of water bottles.

10. Make your own dressings and sauces to avoid packaging.

A bonus here? Homemade stocks taste better than the store-bought stuff.

11. Bring your own produce bags to the grocery store.

It sounds like a no-brainer at this point, but it's easy to forget. Get a few produce bags to keep on-hand, to avoid using the single use plastics (and avoid touching an extra thing in the store while shopping).

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