Reduce Your Food Waste this Summer
By Cheryl Runyon
As we enter a season of bounty, please try some simple methods to reduce food waste and reuse your food to help the environment. Along with helping the planet, you’ll save money! Researchers estimate that the average family of four wastes $1,365 to $2,275 annually in discarded food. Because energy, water, and fossil fuels are needed to grow, harvest, transport, package, market, and sell food, those ‘inputs’ also are wasted. In addition, the food that decomposes in a landfill, or compost pile, emits a great amount of methane—a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere.
Estimates are that up to 40 percent of food produced in the United States ends up in the trash; that’s an equivalent of 141 trillion uneaten calories at a cost of $165 billion to the national economy. The top wasted foods include: bananas; strawberries; apples; bread; milk; blueberries; leafy greens; potatoes; meat; and yogurt.
Be creative in using these items instead of tossing them. The fruits can be cooked down to make a sauce (think applesauce, but using strawberries or blueberries). Bananas can be mixed into pancake batter or used as a topping for French toast. Make smoothies from overripe fruit, yogurt, milk, and add a vitamin ‘kick’ with leafy greens. Make soup and freeze it for quick suppers in the fall. Make an overnight breakfast casserole with leftovers–stale bread, eggs, and milk—and surprise your family on a weekend morning.
Recipes to avoid food waste
Brownie Mix Banana Bread
- 1 cup mashed overripe bananas (about 2)
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 3 eggs
- 1 box brownie mix
- 1 cup chocolate chips (optional)
- 1 tsp. all-purpose flour (optional)
Preheat over to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×5” loaf pan.
In large bowl, combine the bananas, oil and eggs. Add the brownie mix and stir until just combined.
In a small bowl, toss the chocolate chips and flour. Fold in the chips.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
Bake 50-60 minutes (insert toothpick or spaghetti in the center of bread and have it come out clean). Let the bread sit in the pan for 15 minutes, then run a sharp knife about the edges and invert the bread. Cool the bread completely on a cooling rack before slicing.
Slow Cooker Applesauce
- ½ cup water
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp allspice
- 2 ½ pounds apples (cored, but peels remain)
Chop apples and place in slow cooker with remaining ingredients. Stir. Cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 6-8 hours. Mash or blend the apples for a chunky or smooth applesauce. Refrigerate for up to two weeks or freeze for up to six months.