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Ways To Reduce Food Waste At Home

by Kerry Acker

Like many of you, we at Epicurious are still reeling from the recent widely cited report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers revealing that between 30 and 50 percent of all food produced in the world is wasted. Naturally, this news has us thinking about the ways we can minimize food waste in our own households.

Here are some nifty--and delicious--ideas from Epicurious on how to use up as much food as possible:

Cheese: If you find yourself with lots of little nubs of cheese (a common occurrence in our house!)--be they hard or soft, stinky or mild--make like the French and whip up some fromage fortMac and cheese is another excellent vehicle for just about any type of cheese under the sun. Grate a bunch of different cheeses and experiment with grilled cheese sandwiches. And toss small, remnant rinds of Reggiano into your homemade chicken or beef stocks.

 Vegetable peels, skins, ends, and scraps: Don't throw out those carrot or parsnip peels! Stow them in the freezer, along with onion and garlic skins, and use them in your next vegetable or chicken stock. Working with broccoli? Hold on to the stems--they're just as delicious as the florets!--and saute them. Humble potato peels can be fried in oil and tossed with coarse salt and Parmesan cheese for an insta-snack! Kale ends and discarded pieces can be used to make pesto.

Overripe vegetables: Blend leafy nutrient-packed vegetables like chard, spinach, collard greens, or kale with berries or bananas to make smoothies. (My toddler daughter is always extra-happy to get a "special juice"--be it red, green, or purple-ish--in the morning.) Make a frittatasavory pudding, or whip up some crepe batter and use that almost-past-the-edge veg on a designated "crepe night."

Past-due fruits: Again, smoothies are an excellent, delicious option here, but you can also puree berries to make sauces for pancakes, waffles, or yogurt. Got brown bananas? Master-of the-obvious alert here: Make banana bread. Citrus juices and zests can be frozen and used later.

Stale bread: Rustle up some French toast or bread pudding. Grind into bread crumbs and toss into salads, vegetable dishes, or macaroni and cheese; or make meatballs. Make croutons or a panzanella.

Cooked rice and pasta: Serve leftover white rice with a quick stir-fry. Both rice and pasta are terrific in frittatas, and I am a big fan of eggs scrambled with leftover rice and cheese. (Read Kendra's post for some great ideas on how to use up leftover pasta.)

We also recommend becoming a freezing aficionado; planning your meals weekly with an eye toward using up the perishables in your refrigerator and some of the contents of your pantry (and then buying only what you need at the grocery store or farmers' market); organizing your fridge so your leftovers and half-eaten foods are clearly visible when you open the door; and, of course, composting.

Want to share your tips for getting the most out of the food you have? We'd love to hear 'em!

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