Orange Zest and 5 Tips for Reducing Food Waste

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As we come to the end of #earthweek I thought I’d share a flavorful tip to help #reducefoodwaste .  Zest your citrus!

Last week, I made a dessert with oranges,  Before I peeled them, I zested them.  Citrus zest adds bright and concentrated flavor to both sweet (think baked goods, rice pudding, really anything) and savory dishes (stews, soups, salads, anywhere you might use lemon zest). For one way to use orange zest, try the sweet spiced pepitas I use to top pumpkin flan:

We can all reduce food waste in small ways.  In the US and other developed countries, 40% of food is thrown out by consumers.  According to The New York Times, the US wastes more than $160 billion in food annually, with dairy products accounting for the largest share of food wasted, about $91 billion.  This has implications for our ability to feed everyone, as well as on the climate and economy.  We all need to try harder to buy only what we need and to be mindful of how we use it.

Here are a few tips on reducing food waste in your kitchen:

  1. Save your scraps! Besides citrus zest, think about using the peels from your carrots, onions and other vegetables to save for making stock.  Keep a ziploc freezer bag and add to it every time you prep vegetables.  When it’s full, you’re ready for stock!
  2. Plan your meals.  We’ve all been there– bought everything that looked so good at the farmers’ market, only to find that we couldn’t use it up in time.  I find a good way to avoid this is to plan out my weekly menu, and try to come up with at least three different ways to use the same produce so it won’t go to waste.
  3. Store food properly.  Keeping produce fresh means more than just putting it in the refrigerator.  Here’s a great guide on how to best store produce at Eating Well.  (On this note, to store zest properly, keep it tightly sealed in the refrigerator for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month.  You can also dehydrate it or add it to granulated sugar for orange-scented sugar.)
  4. Use your herbs for more than a garnish.  Pesto and salsa verde are two great ways to use up a lot of herbs.  Chopping them up and adding them to your salad to make a more flavorful (and micronutrient-rich) green salad is another way to feature herbs.  Especially if you’re planting herbs in your garden, get creative!
  5. Repurpose leftovers.  Some people don’t like the idea of leftover food, but I think of it as a flavorful building block for new dishes.  Leftover rice from one night means fried rice another.  Or arancini, as a base for veggie burgers, or as an addition to soup.  Leftover cooked vegetables make an excellent base for almost-instant vegetable soup, or as a flavorful topping for a salad.  Even the smallest amount of any leftover entree makes a great base for a sandwich.  Get creative!


What other ways do you minimize food waste in your kitchen? Please share tips in the comments!

And if you haven’t joined our healthy eating community on Facebook, please come on by! Follow for healthy eating tips, recipes, nutrition information and more.  And if you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, take a class with me in the Thrive Kitchen! Hope to cook with you soon!

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