By living a zero-waste lifestyle I have challenged myself to use up all of what I have (in this case food) before going out and buying more.
When it comes to my pantry, I've organized it into three categories to help me see what I have: baking essentials, cooking essentials, and ingredients for snacks that I can whip up on the fly.
Everything you see is from a bulk source (no packaging) and is organic. I buy coconut, olive, and sunflower oil in bulk, as well as tamari and apple cider vinegar. Even though I could get these items in glass bottles, the tops are made out of plastic and are not recycled in my area (the recycling center only recycles what they can sell).
Shopping in bulk just takes a little bit of forethought and mindfulness (like most things). It's very easy to do and saves money as well as resources.
I apply the same principle of reducing my food waste to the contents of my fridge. In my pre-zero-waste days, I would throw out tons of produce and packaged food. For example, I'd buy a tub of sour cream, use one scoop for a meal, and find that it had gone bad weeks later in the fridge. Then I'd throw it in the trash where it would then be taken to the landfill. Now that I live zero-waste and don't use plastic, sour cream is out. And I don't miss her at all (if I really wanted to I could make it at home).
Most of the items in my fridge are things that I have made like sauerkraut (recipe coming), veggie stock, dough, and leftovers. Having less food in my fridge makes it easier for me to see everything.
I'm very fortunate to have access to fresh produce every single day; however, if you are like most people and only shop once a week, there are some really simple ways to keep your produce fresh longer!
Prolonging Veggie Life. Check out my asparagus! To preserve it for a few more days, I've cut the ends off and submerged them in water. For carrots, chop the tops off and submerge them root first into water as well. For leafy greens (kale, chard, etc..) I wash them, lay them on a flour sack towel, tie up the towel, and then store in my crisper. I find that prepping my vegetables (chopping them up) and storing them in mason jars (filled with water) in the fridge ensures that they get used and keeps them fresh.
For fresh herbs like parsley and basil, you can cut a little bit of the stems off and submerge them in water. I keep basil out of the fridge though, as it does not like the cold.
If I know I will be using the produce I buy in a two day time span, I lay it out on a flour sack towel in my veggie crisper.
I have surprised myself at what I can come up with to cook when I think that my fridge is barren and "there's nothing to eat." For example, I whipped up a quiche with the eggs and asparagus I had. I encourage you to shop in your refrigerator and pantry before going out, buying more and adding new food to the waste cycle.
In summary, what are the benefits of reducing our food waste? Because I'm no longer letting food go to waste, I'm buying less and saving money. I'm also not sending any of my food scraps to the landfill, cutting down on methane gas emissions. To read more about why composting is important, check out my post! Reducing food waste helps to conserve energy and precious resources. It takes a lot of water, time, and money to grow, transport, and then landfill food. When I think about all of those who don't have food, I feel very grateful.