It’s alarming to note that 50 percent of the food prepared in the US and Europe is wasted every single day. While it’s almost considered normal now to discard food that’s not even close to its expiration date, or because it’s been sitting for far too long in your refrigerator or pantry, or sadly just because you’re too bored to eat it; you can avoid this kind of wastage and save money as well, with simple steps.

When it comes to food, there are some general rules to keep in mind, so you minimize the waste. Firstly, monitor your refrigerator and kitchen cupboards on a regular basis, so that you know what needs to be used up before it expires or rots. Go ahead and buy what you need, but stop stocking more than required, especially in the case of perishable products. Appreciate the different stages of the items you buy, and if you don’t consume all of it when they’re at their best, find creative ways to use them later on. You could also freeze half of what you buy, for later use.

Here are specific, simple tips and tricks to stop wasting food, and making the best of the ingredients that you would’ve otherwise thrown away:

  1. Bought too much basil or parsley and used just a couple of sprigs? While you could try and turn them into pesto variations, the other option is to dry out excess herbs in the oven for later use in soups or salads.
  2. Stale bread makes great breadcrumbs and croutons if you toast it. Store in airtight containers, and refrigerate.
  3. Excess fresh milk can be turned into yogurt or fresh soft cheese with just a little bit of citric acid.
  4. Hard cheeses like Parmesan have inedible rinds that can be thrown into a soup for a richer flavor.
  5. Peels of any citrus fruit can be oven-dried and used to season dishes like stews or sauces. Even better, you can make candied peel to be used in cakes and muffins or even eaten as a little dessert treat by itself.
  6. Collect tomato scraps and toss with a little salt. Now place them in a sieve over a bowl till the juices drain out. Use this liquid for soups like gazpacho, in curries or just a good Bloody Mary.
  7. The hard ribs of chard and tender stems of cauliflower can be chopped, braised in white wine and eaten as a healthy, cooked salad. If you don’t like the taste, puree and add to a gratin or casserole.
  8. Melon rinds can be used in salads or cold soups, pickled in brine to be eaten as is, or added to salsa, relish or salads.
  9. When peeling potatoes, don’t scrape too thin. You will be left with slightly thick peels that can be deep fried or baked. Serve these crunchy treats with a sprinkle of salt, pepper and paprika or hot sauce.
  10. Learn how to pickle, can, and preserve fruit and vegetables that are in season, so you can enjoy them for longer and save money instead of spending it on expensive items that are often filled with artificial dyes, preservatives and other harmful chemicals.

Healthy living and sustainable practices need not be unattainable goals. Just practice simple tips on a daily basis, and you will be making a big, positive impact on the quality of your life, and on the planet.

Head to our Food section for healthy recipes and the latest food trends.
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Nutrition tips here.

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Simona is a journalist who has worked with several leading publications in India over the last 17 years, writing on lifestyle topics and the arts, besides interviewing celebrities. She made the switch to public relations and headed the division as PR Manager at ITC Hotels’ flagship property, the ITC Grand Chola, but has since returned to her first love, journalism. Now she writes on food, which she is sincerely passionate about and wellness, which she finds fascinating and full of surprises. When she isn’t writing, she is busy playing the role of co-founder and communications director of The Bicycle Project, a six-year-old charity initiative that empowers tribal children in rural areas, while addressing the issue of urban waste.