By Betty Gold
Updated July 19, 2019
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Not only will your wallet thank you—the planet will, too.

The United States chucks nearly 40 percent of its food every year. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, that adds up to over $160 billion wasted annually.

If you're starting to feel guilty thinking about all of the food your family tosses out every week, don't worry. There are endless easy ways to change your habits to waste less food, save more money, and lower your carbon footprint at the same time. We spoke with Denver-based chef and restaurateur, Justin Cucci of the Edible Beats Restaurant Group and author of The Edible Beat Cookbook about the best ways you can reduce waste in the kitchen.

Fry up the skins of different vegetables into crispy bites. Zucchini, potato, and yellow squash skins taste delicious sautéed in olive oil with salt and pepper. Add fresh herbs and freshly-ground parmesan and you’ve got an instant hors d’oeuvre.

Save shrimp shells, bones, and parmesan rinds by freezing them. When you’re meal prepping on Sunday, turn them into a stock with leftover veggie ends.

Use leftover pulp from juicing by mixing it into a savory veggie burger patty—it will add fiber and additional flavor.

Fruit that is nearing the end of its shelf life works great in a smoothie. Add in some of the pulp from juicing to add texture, andyour blender will handle the rest.

Whenever you make bacon, render, strain and save the leftover fat for cooking later (or seasoning your cast iron pans).

Old bananas are perfect for making banana bread. Freeze them once they become brown so they're ready whenever you need to whip up some muffins.

Embrace your freezer. It’s the most effective way to mitigate food waste. The freezer came to hold an unpopular opinion because a lot of companies freeze mediocre foods which leads to mediocre meals. But if you freeze good produce at their peak ripeness they hold the same nutrients as fresh produce and cut down on waste.

Instead of canning, try cryovacing at home. It's a quicker method than canning and can be used whenever you need. You can cryovac a blend of different fruits and veggies for a quick morning smoothie, or create some assorted vegetable packs for a quick steam or roasting on a busy week night.

And about those herbs…

Try one of these clever ways to use up your bounty of basil, parsley, mint, rosemary, and more.

  • Create herby ice by freezing a whole leaf in your ice cube tray.
  • Use them as a garnish in cocktails.
  • Try out new and different fresh-cut herbs in your typical homemade salad dressing recipe.
  • Pound them into pesto.
  • Dry your herbs and mix with salts for an unexpected pinch of flavor and aroma.
  • Create herby butters, vinaigrettes, chimichurris, and marinades.
  • Try basil with ice cream for an unexpectedly delicious combination.