According to the NRDC, Americans waste nearly 40 percent of the food they buy—does this ring true in your household? If you find that plenty of produce, meat, and even dry goods end up in your trash, it might be the right time to make a change! Consider investing in these products that help you use more of the groceries you buy, and lessen what you put into landfills. Pick up a few of these items to help solve your food waste problem, and you may even gain some new habits and hobbies along the way!
Are you overambitious about fruits and veggies? Maybe you stock up on fresh foods because you intend to eat healthier, but you don’t always get to that fridge-drawer full of produce before those foods start to go bad. Or you really want to sign up for a CSA but fear letting all your precious farm-fresh treasures go to waste. A great way to tackle this problem is to get yourself a juicer!
If space is an issue, something like this Breville Compact Juice Fountain takes up a smaller countertop footprint (it received high marks from CNET when they tested it too). With a juicer, everything from apples to zucchini can be salvaged before they brown and wilt. Toss in all those overripe fruits (remove the really bad parts first), or turn a large, daunting bunch of leafy greens into just a little bit of potent, green juice—perfect for those pears you forgot about, or that bag of kale you have no energy to cook. Mix with your milk of choice (almond and coconut are nice options) or balance out with other milder juices like that from cucumber, celery, or apples.Buy Now
A Compost Bin
For some, a juicer is the gateway appliance to composting. With all that dried out, vitamin-stripped leftover pulp, it’s hard not to notice how much food matter you throw away. And, even if you don’t juice, you’re likely tossing onion skins, carrot tops, herb stems, egg shells, and more into the garbage from everyday cooking. If you’re looking to lessen your impact to landfills, then a compost bin is the way to go! Obviously, this is only doable if you have some outdoor space to work with, or if you’re lucky enough to live in a city like San Francisco, which provides curbside composting.
For those with a yard, investing in a big, basic compost bin or a space-saving rotating tumbler bin will get you started on returning your food scraps from whence they came, creating nutrient-rich soil. Check out our guide on composting for tips on what and what not to put into your bin. Whether you DIY or have your compost picked up, you can either freeze your food scraps until you take them out, or you can get real fancy with pretty countertop bins like this sleek wooden one or this cream metal model. Or get cute with this classic bucket design in eco-friendly bamboo. Practical, and a great conversation piece for pushing your environmental agenda on friends and family!Buy Now
A Vacuum Sealer
If your main problem is that you so want to use that meat and produce in meals, but you can never get to cooking before it all goes bad, a vacuum sealer might be your new best friend.
Related Reading: The Best Cookbooks for Fighting Food Waste
This Anova Precision Vacuum Sealer, for example, is designed for sous vide cooking, but also helps you tackle food waste in a few different ways. The most obvious use of a vacuum sealer is to remove oxygen from foods—this slows down the growth of mold and bacteria, extending the life of your groceries. Another way a vacuum sealer can help cut down on waste is by enabling better meal prep. The vacuum bags allow you to pack more individually-sealed meals in the freezer than you can with unwieldy containers, making it easier to tackle that big bag of vegetables or the meat you buy in bulk (Costco steak, for example)—cook it all in one fell swoop, and store it away with those space-saving and food-preserving bags.Buy Now
Canning and Fermenting Kits
Maybe you’re the type that likes vinyl records, hand-brewed coffee, and homemade gifts. You want to prolong the life of your food, but a vacuum sealer seems too high-tech. The solution could be starting up a new hobby rooted in the olden days: canning!
Get this Multi-Use Waterbath Canner and you’ll have nearly everything you need to dip into this historical preservation process; at-home canning typically uses jars, so you will need to buy these separately. This kit uses a water-bath to heat the jar contents, killing off bacteria and creating a vacuum seal to keep out air, and the rack allows you to switch to steam canning too. Make preserves, salsas, and more with your surplus fruits and veggies, and store these all without taking up any precious refrigerator space.Buy Now
If you like tangy flavors from live cultures, you can use the above kit for fermenting foods, but you’ll have a simpler time with this Easy Fermenter Kit. Make fermented pickles, kimchi, or any other probiotic-packed foods with this kit, which has special lids that let the fermentation gases out of jars. With a regular canning kit, you would need to “burp” the jars to prevent that gas from building up; otherwise, you run the risk of an exploding-jar situation! With either kit, you’re able to store up fruits and veggies before they go bad in a wonderfully folksy way, and you might just turn into that person who always has a gift of pickles or preserves ready-to-go for birthdays or the holidays.Buy Now
Food Storage Containers
It could be that you don’t want any new gadgets or hobbies—you just need a little help storing and using your groceries more effectively. For these situations, a new set of storage containers might be all you need.
Ideal for dry goods, air-tight OXO POP containers help you keep cereal, snacks, and pasta organized and fresh. Storing foods in containers like these help you steer clear of those contentious conversations about this roommate that forgot to use the chip clip, or that family member who thinks rolling the bag top is good enough to prevent stale cereal (yeah, right!). And, with clear, neat containers, foods will stay visible and front-of-mind, making it more likely that you’ll remember to use them.Buy Now
Cookbooks for Leftovers and Scraps
You can save all the peels, trimmings, and leftovers you want, but if you don’t actually use them, there’s no point—so look to books for inspiration when you’re not sure what to do with all those bits and bobs.
This book on “how to get the most from your food” presents tons more tips and over 100 recipes from top chefs in the interest of preventing food waste; after all, “Nobody knows more about how to fully utilize every leaf, root, bone, stem, and rind, or has ideas for how to stretch dollars into delicious, satisfying dishes” than the pros. You’ll find recipes utilizing things like asparagus bottoms, squash seeds, and fruit skins. See even more of our favorite anti-food waste cookbooks.Buy Now
Instead of just telling yourself to “do better” with food waste, equip yourself with tools that’ll help you fight the good fight. Figure out which products will work best for you, and incorporate them into your organization and food prep routine—you’ll find you’re tossing less food into the garbage, and maybe even upping your fruit and veggie intake!
Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.