Food Scraps
Table Talk

Tackle Food Waste at Home, the Easy Way

You can make a difference—even if it's small.

It happens to the best of us: You go to the grocery store and buy a big bunch of parsley with the best intentions to use it for dinner that night. You toss it in the fridge for later, but then a friend calls and you decide to grab dinner with her instead. The next night you're eating leftovers, and then the night after that your kids are craving homemade pizza. Meanwhile, that parsley goes limp, and before you know it, you're throwing it in the trash because the leaves are brown and slimy.

While incidents like this may seem small, they add up. Over one-third of the food supply in the United States goes uneaten according to the USDA. And in 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that 40% of all food waste in the U.S. comes from consumers and consumer-facing businesses (like restaurants, grocery stores, cafeterias, etc.). This is especially upsetting when you consider that 38 million people in the country are food insecure. Not only is wasting food throwing away money, it's also bad for the environment. In fact, the EPA says that as of 2021, food waste is the most common material found in landfills in the United States. And globally, eight to 10 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions are linked to wasted food.

The good news is that you can, actually, make a difference (there's no need to be a Doomer). Let Simply Recipes show you how easy it can be to tackle food waste at home: from making zero-waste recipes, to learning better ways to store produce, to supporting nonprofits working on a macro scale to reduce food waste around the country. This isn't about perfection, it's about doing what we can. — Ariel Knutson, Associate Editorial Director

Stories on Food Waste

Simply Recipes

Food Writers on Food Waste

All the tips, explainers, and stories you need to start reducing food waste at home (and beyond).

Food scraps in a zip-top bag

Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

Do you want to reduce food waste but don't know where to start? Consider this your cheat sheet. From creating an "Eat Me First" box, to making the most out of your kitchen scraps, it doesn't take much to make a real difference. "Your wallet and the planet will thank you," says Su-Jit Lin.

Read the story10 Essential Ways to Tackle Food Waste at Home

Book titled "Heloise's Kitchen Hints"

Simply Recipes / Amazon

Sara Bir reflects on the impact of Heloise Bowles Cruse, the newspaper columnist who wrote about reducing food waste at home before it was cool on TikTok. "The Heloise MO was more about thrift and mindfulness than being green, but the outcome was the same: a safer, happier, less wasteful kitchen."

Read the storyHow Heloise Reduced Food Waste Before It Was Cool 

bottom of a tub of sour cream shows expiration date

Simply Recipes

One of the best things you can do when it comes to reducing food waste is understanding what printed dates really mean and why we have them in the first place. "Printed dates may be written in ink and not pencil, but they’re certainly not written in stone," writes Su-Jit Lin.

Read the storyWhat's the Difference Between Expiration, Best-By, Sell-By, and Use-By Dates?

Three photos of people working to reduce food waste

Simply Recipes / StudioNouveau / Saving Grace / Lori Cannava

Want to make a difference outside your own kitchen? Support the nonprofits around the country making an impact on a much larger scale. Here, we'll introduce you to a few of our favorites. "They all share a singular drive: to reduce food waste and feed their hungry neighbors, all in one go," says Laurel Randolph.

Read the storyHow 5 Nonprofits Are Tackling Food Waste on a Macro Level

washing strawberries in a colander

Simply Recipes / Lori Rice

Help your fruits and vegetables end up on your plate instead of the trash or compost by learning to store them properly. "Did you know that a quick vinegar rinse will extend the life of your strawberries? Or that you should treat your herbs like flowers and put them in water?" Asks Laurel Randolph. The more you know!

Read the story10 Better Ways to Store Fruits and Vegetables

seven cookbooks

Simply Recipes / Amazon

Choosing a recipe to make that already have low-waste cooking in mind is just about the easiest way to reduce food waste at home. These cookbooks "make the most of all the peels, seeds, roots, and stems we might normally throw away," explains Stephanie Ganz.

Read the story7 Smart Cookbooks for Preventing Food Waste at Home

Frozen wine cubes slowly melting on a table

Simply Recipes / Andy Christensen

Don't you dare throw away those wilt-y greens, almost stale bread, or leftover egg yolks. Instead...toss them in the freezer! We'll show you how. "The freezer can help you tackle food waste, save you money, and help you be a smarter cook," explains Sheela Prakash. Oh, and did we mention you could freeze leftover wine? Yeah. That too.

Read the story10 Foods You Didn't Know You Can Freeze

Best Kitchen Compost Bins

Simply Recipes / Photo Illustration by Chloe Jeong / Retailers below

Embrace the eco-friendly kitchen by investing in a good compost bin. A compost bin "allows you to process plant and food waste and convert it into an organic material that can be used as plant fertilizer," explains Taylor Tobin. Here's your guide to buying one.

Read the storyThe Best Kitchen Compost Bins in 2022

Cook It Up!

Simply Recipes

Recipes for Reducing Food Waste

These recipes use the whole fruit or vegetable, so you don't even have to think about tossing anything out. Eat and sip your way to a zero-waste kitchen!

Sautéed fennel on a platter.

Simply Recipes / Alison Bickel

  • Whole Banana Bread: This waste-free rendition of traditional banana bread may become your new go-to recipe. It’s supremely tender and perfectly sweet. You’d never guess whole bananas were in there, peels and all!
  • Whole Clementine Cake: This moist and tender clementine cake uses the whole fruit—peel, pith, and seeds. Plus, the batter is made in a food processor.
  • Sautéed Fennel with Fennel Fronds: Fennel is a three-in-one deal, and this delicious side dish uses them all—the bulb, the stalk, and the fronds.
Spiced apple core simple syrup in swing top bottle

Lori Rice / Simply Recipes

  • Stone Fruit Pit Liqueur: Use your stone fruit pits to make a sweetened liqueur that’s scented with thyme and vanilla to add to cocktails or sip with an ice cube for an after-dinner drink.
  • Spiced Apple Core Simple Syrup: Move towards a zero-waste kitchen with this spiced apple core syrup. Simmer uneaten cores and sugar in water with cardamom and ginger to create a sweetener perfect for mocktails and cocktails.
  • Tepache: Don’t toss those pineapple peels! Instead, use them to make this delicious tepache, a fizzy, lightly sweetened Mexican brew.
Use It Up!

Simply Recipes

Ideas for Using Up Odds & Ends

Here's how to use up some of the most common leftover ingredients in the kitchen.

Three photos side by side. On the left is a photo of french toast casserole. The middle photo is Radicchio Salad with Citrus. The photo to the right is Slow Cooker Banana Bread Pudding with caramel sauce, whipped cream and sliced bananas on the side.
Three images side by side. On the left is a loaf of Pumpkin Bread. In the middle is Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with Streusel Topping being coated in caramel. On the right is Pumpkin Ricotta Gnocchi on a white plate.