4 Ways to Reduce Food Waste at Home

Consumer food waste is a worldwide challenge, but a few habits and changes at home can make a huge difference!

1. Compost your leftovers

Do you have a garden? If not, do you know someone who does? If the answer is yes, composting is a terrific way to use your kitchen scraps! Composting speeds up the decomposition process by providing an ideal environment for organisms such as bacteria, worms and fungi, to do their work. With your food scraps, these organisms will produce compost, a nutrient-rich substance often referred to as “black gold,” which can be sprinkled around your plants. It’s the key to a happy and healthy garden!

2. Use meat bones or vegetable scraps to make a broth 

If you have some leftover chicken, beef or pork bones, try making a bone broth! For many years, bone broth has been used in various cultures around the world as a medicinal food. It has many health benefits including its ability to strengthen the kidneys and support digestive health. It’s also a common base for many soups and sauces. All you need to do is drop your bones into a pot and cover it with water. Add a bit of salt to season the broth, along with a couple tablespoons of acid—apple cider vinegar or lemon juice will work—to break down the collagen. Bring the water to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover your pot and let it cook for at least 10-12 hours. Once it has reduced by about a third, you can strain and store your broth in the refrigerator or freezer until you’re ready to use it. This works great with vegetable scraps too! 

3. Make your own fertilizer

Composting isn’t the only way to create an amazing fertilizer your plants will love while reducing your food waste. You can also make banana peel tea! If you eat lots of bananas, this tip is for you. Save your peels and put them in an air-tight jar filled with water. Let it sit for one to two weeks and use the resulting liquid to water your plants. Your plants will thank you! 

4. Freeze food to make it last longer

If you like to cook a lot of food at once, don’t let your leftovers go to waste! Freeze them to prevent spoiling. This works great for soups, sauces, seafood, fruit, meat and even milk. If you tend to buy more than you should, this will help to increase your food’s shelf life, ensuring you get your money’s worth. 

5 Food Waste Tips for the Holidays

Food waste during the holidays can be a big problem. Luckily, there’s plenty we can do to reduce food waste at home.

Between holiday parties, family obligations and the pressure of finding that perfect gift — this time of year can certainly go by in a flash. Amid the bustle of the holiday season, planning a family gathering can already be hard enough. The last thing we need to worry about is all the holiday leftovers. But, unfortunately, food waste this time of year can be a big problem.

Luckily, there’s plenty we can do to reduce food waste at home — especially during the holidays. Here are five tips that may help you focus even more on caring and celebration this season, and could even reduce the strain on our personal budgets and the environment.

  • Rethink your shopping list. If you’re not hosting guests this year, buy what you need to feed your family and match their tastes. For example, if they cannot stand cranberry sauce — skip it. They like ice cream more than pumpkin pie? Swap it out. Your holiday dinner will still be perfect without those “traditional” foods. And you can avoid overbuying and overspending by shopping for what you’ll want to eat.

  • Take ‘um home. Provide or ask guests to bring reusable containers to pack up leftovers. Instead of loading them up with a little bit of everything, ask them what they enjoyed eating and let them pick. That way, you can avoid those leftovers reaching someone else’s rubbish.

  • Compost. You can compost many ingredients of your holiday meal. Fruits, vegetables, eggshells and coffee grounds make great compost. You can compost safely at home in your backyard or in an indoor compost bin.

Holiday Meal Boxes

The Holiday Season is right around the corner and this year Northern Illinois Food Bank plans to distribute 60,000 Holiday Meal boxes to neighbors to ensure they are able to thrive and celebrate this year. 

We began packing boxes the last week of September and will continue through the first week of December. Each box weighs 11.5 pounds and includes: 7 cocoa packets, bag of rice, cranberry sauce, brownie mix, turkey gravy, diced pears, stuffing mix, bag of pinto beans, 2 cans of whole kernel corn, and 2 cans of green beans. A turkey or ham and a bag of potatoes will be included with the box.

There are a few opportunities to help with our Holiday Meal Box Program. You can make a donation or volunteer at our Geneva location to help pack boxes for our neighbors.