Welcome, fellow food enthusiasts! As we gather amidst the vibrant hues of nature's canvas to celebrate Earth Day, let's embark on a journey of green discovery and sustainable eating. 

According to Feeding America, over 80 million tons of food are wasted annually in the United States alone, equating to more than $444 billion. Much of this waste happens long before it reaches our kitchen, but still, that's not just a staggering statistic; it's a wake-up call to action.

Grab your apron, and let's dive into cooking delectable cuisine while minimizing your environmental footprint and creating a more sustainable food system.


How to Reduce Food Waste and Eat Sustainably

Imagine the resources—water, land, energy—that go into producing this food, only to end up in landfills, emitting harmful greenhouse gases. By curbing food waste, we alleviate pressure on our planet's resources, combat hunger, and promote a more sustainable food system.

Embrace Imperfection

Picture this: a carrot with curves, a potato with personality, an apple with attitude. In the world of sustainable eating, imperfection is celebrated! “Ugly produce,” as it's affectionately known, may not win any beauty pageants, but it's just as tasty and nutritious as its flawless counterparts. 

Next time you're at the grocery store or farmers' market, don't judge a fruit or vegetable by its cover–embrace the imperfection and focus on flavor. Subscribe to a weekly or biweekly supply of “ugly produce” at places like Misfits Market or Imperfect Foods.They even have ugly organic produce at a fraction of the normal cost. A win-win!

Plan Like a Pro

Ah, the age-old question: "What's for dinner?" 

Instead of letting this query haunt you like a hungry ghost, take control with a little meal planning. Set aside time each week to plan your meals, and then take stock of what you already have in your pantry and fridge. 

Planning ahead and shopping with a list prevents impulse buys at the grocery store and ensures you use ingredients before they perish.

Can those vegetables be turned into a flavor-filled stir fry? Can you use that little bit of flour to make homemade tortillas? What about turning those canned garbanzo beans and quinoa into veggie burgers? It's like a culinary scavenger hunt!

If you need help planning your meals based on your goals, learn more about WAG Meal Plans here! Written by dietitians on our staff, these plans have over 100 breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas that you can mix and match to confidently hit macro or calorie targets. We wrote them in a budget-friendly way that reduces food waste and ensures you use up all of your ingredients!

Pay it Forward

Let’s face it. We’ve all got random cans of peas or hominy corn in our pantry because we needed one for a special recipe but wanted to take advantage of the 4/$1 deal. 

Before they expire, donate these unopened items to a local food drive so they can help families in your own community that don’t have enough. You may be able to find a local drive using your state or zip code here.

Love Your Leftovers

Leftovers get a bad rap. They are either relegated to the sad realm of forgotten Tupperware containers at the back of the fridge or given to the family pet. But fear not! Leftovers are the unsung heroes of sustainable eating!

Instead of letting them languish in culinary purgatory, give them new life with a little creativity. Turn yesterday's roast chicken into tacos or chicken salad sandwiches. Transform leftover rice into a veggie stir-fry. How about whipping baked potatoes into some tasty mashed potatoes? With a dash of imagination and a sprinkle of seasoning, leftovers can become the highlight of your next meal.

Pro tip: Use glass containers instead of plastic to preserve freshness!

Practice Portion Control

By serving yourself just the right amount, you prevent food waste and promote healthier eating habits. If you're still hungry, you can always go back for seconds.

This is especially useful when eating out because we all know how skewed restaurant portions can be! Ask for a to-go box before diving in, divide up your meal, and look forward to tomorrow’s lunch without any effort beyond warming up the food.

Get Creative with Scraps

One person's trash is another person's treasure—especially regarding food scraps. Instead of tossing out those carrot tops, broccoli stems, and celery leaves, why not give them a second chance? Here are a couple of ideas:

Celery Salt from celery leaves:

Layer washed and dried celery leaves on a baking sheet and bake for 1.5 hrs at 200°. When crisp and dry, grind into a powder and add fine sea salt for culinary gold! 

Broccoli Chips from broccoli stems:

Cut the stems into thin slices; toss with olive oil, your favorite spices, and a dash of salt. Bake at 375° for 15 to 20 minutes. 

Get creative with scraps to make flavorful stocks, savory sauces, pickled or tangy treats, or nutrient-packed pesto.

Compost, Compost, Compost

Give the gift of extra TLC to your garden by composting. Composting is nature's ultimate recycling program, and your food scraps can be given new life as nutrient-rich soil. Whether you have a backyard compost bin or opt for a countertop system, composting is a simple and effective way to close the loop on food waste. 

Visit the EPA's website for tips on composting that are helpful for beginners and pro-composters.


Final Thoughts on Sustainable Eating and Reducing Food Waste

As you can see, sustainable eating isn't about sacrifice or deprivation. It's about savoring every bite while minimizing environmental impact and seeing the potential in all of your food. 

With a dash of creativity, even the smallest scraps can be used for top-notch cuisine. So, let's raise our forks and eco-consciousness to a brighter, tastier future for all! 

Bon Appetit! 

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