broccoli bacon cheese quiche
Garden Kitchen Tips

How to Waste Less in Your Kitchen

One of the number one places in our house we generate waste is the kitchen. Here are a few tips for how to do a better job of minimizing your kitchen waste!

I hate throwing things out. It’s not that I’m anti-Marie Kondo or that everything brings me joy. I just hate adding to landfills when we don’t have to – especially when it’s waste that could have been prevented or when you’re throwing out something that could be used somewhere else. And on average, 30% of the waste we throw out is kitchen waste!

The first step in not creating waste, though, is smart shopping. It’s figuring out what you already have, making a meal plan to use as much of that as you can, figuring out what else you need, and then going shopping for the extra ingredients. If you’re doing that and not impulse buying whatever produce looks good and thinking you’ll surely find a recipe for that later {yup, I’m guilty}, you create a lot less waste!

If you haven’t seen it already, check out my full post on meal planning over here.

There’s one more tip I’d like to throw in here on top of all the tips loaded up in my meal planning post, and that’s shop smaller sizes. Unless it’s an ingredient you know you use routinely and will have to replenish, buy as small a size as you need. It doesn’t count as a “value” deal if you buy a big bag, box, or fill a jar of something you’re not going to use and will throw away anyway.

But even with all this, you’ll still have waste. There will be rinds and stems and peels  and cores and things even the most enterprising chefs can’t do anything with. There will be containers and bags to figure out. Oh, and sometimes, you know what? Life happens and you just don’t get to that one ingredient in time. And that’s okay.

Because here are a few tips to get a second use out of a lot of those things or to recycle them smartly, so less goes into the landfill!

Smart Uses for Kitchen Waste

gardening with eggshells

Start a compost bin. Compost is decomposed organic matter that you can churn into your soil to help your plants grow better, and starting a compost bin can be easier than you think! Here’s what you can compost:

Greens (wet items):

  • Vegetables and fruits
  • Coffee grounds
  • Clean eggshells
  • Grass clippings

Browns (dry items):

  • Sawdust
  • Cardboard
  • Dry leaves
  • Shredded paper

The idea is to get a good balance between your “greens” and “browns” – most experts recommend a 3:1 brown to green so it doesn’t get too wet {although if your pile gets too wet, you can just add a little water}.

Just as a note, eggshells are about the only animal product I’ve found that you can compost. Just do not try it with anything fatty or waxy. Super stinky.

Not everyone has the space for a compost pile {or wants the smell}, but you can keep it out of the way with a good compost bin. You can even compost under your own kitchen sink with this awesome little gadget!

chicken broth

Save your veggie trimmings, chicken scraps, and seafood shells for broth! I love homemade broth. It adds a lot of extra flavor to your soups and sauces and risottos {and sometimes broths are hard to find – the only way I can find a good seafood broth for my risotto is by making one}. And they’re super easy to make.

I save my veggie trimmings and scraps, chicken cuttings and bones, and seafood shells {mostly shrimp – we cook a lot of shrimp!} in large Sharpie-marked freezer bags in the {you guessed it} freezer until I have enough that I’m ready to make something. Then it’s pretty simple to make.

You can check out my recipe for chicken broth here, but it’s pretty easy to make a veggie broth {leave out the chicken parts} or seafood broth {swap seafood shells for chicken parts} using the same techniques.

And a good broth, full of aromatic herbs, makes your kitchen smell delicious while you’re letting it simmer!

gardening with eggshells

Throw your eggshells and coffee grounds and other scraps in the garden! So, having a backyard garden is many things – a fun hobby, a way to teach your family about what goes into actually producing your food, a way to taste the most delicious fresh produce that you put your own sweat equity into, and a great way of making use of kitchen scraps! Here are a few things you can do {that I’ve conveniently already written about!}:

Add composting to the deal, and you can mulch a lot more than just these things into your garden, and then that same garden turns around and produces delicious food for you. Sounds like winning all around to me!

garden veggie soup

Keep a handful of “second life” recipes on hand. And by second life, these recipes purposely call for leftovers and things you’re trying to use up. I have a handful of these that I’m working on turning into blog posts.

  • Backyard Garden Veggie Noodle Soup – this is a stone soup of sorts that takes a grab bag of garden veggies, tomatoes, potatoes, bow-tie pasta, and herbs, and turns them into a delicious and savory soup! Recipe here!
  • Easy Herbed Cheese Spread – all you need for this one is about 5 ounces of semi-firm cheese you’re trying to get rid of, 3 ounces of cream cheese, garlic, butter, and fresh herbs, a little Sauvignon blanc, and crackers and fresh veggies for dipping! Recipe coming soon!
  • Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Bars – if you like banana bread and banana muffins, you know that’s a great place to use bananas that are going brown. My family’s lukewarm on banana bread, but they love these breakfast bars I make by mashing up a browning banana with some milk, applesauce, egg, honey, peanut-butter, oats, flour, and a few spices! Recipe coming soon!

Any other ideas out there? How do you guys reduce your kitchen waste?

About the ChefKristin

Career Army officer with a tendency toward workaholism. On the side, self taught cook, carpenter, and gardener, working to build a beautiful life for my family. Trying to tilt my balance in the right direction.

Leave a Reply