In Toronto, single family households discard about 275 kilos of food waste each year. While Toronto’s composting program ends up capturing 75% of that, one in four food purchases still end up in the trash. Reducing food waste doesn’t just help the environment, it reduces your grocery bill. Don’t worry though, we’re here to help! We’ve compiled our top 10 kitchen hacks to ensure you’re preserving the food you already have, helping it stay fresh and last longer.
(10) Keep bread fresh for longer. Don’t put it in the fridge as the refrigeration will dry it out quicker, making it tough and less tasty! Stick to the freezer or your counter top if you’re not planning to use the entire loaf within a few days. If you do end up with stale bread – not to worry! Cut the slices up and turn them into a panzanella salad or homemade croutons!
(9) Cut open used tea bags and use the leaves in potted plants. The leaves (especially green tea leaves!) are high in nitrogen which make them excellent for growth and the health of the plants. Bonus: the leaves fend off pests and insects too!
(8) Keep your avocados from browning by storing them with a cut onion. The sulfur compounds from the onion prevent oxidation and browning of the avocado.
(7) Keep celery fresh for weeks. If you’re anything like me, you buy celery with wonderful thoughts of making delicious celery dishes and a week later it’s limp, oddly coloured and overall, unappealing. To keep it fresh for longer, cut the base off and tightly wrap the stalks with aluminum foil.
(6) Hate that crystallized honey texture? We do too, but don’t throw it out! Place the container of honey in a bowl of hot water for 10-15 minutes and you’ll get back that lusciously smooth texture!
(5) Store bananas separately – Bananas emit ethylene, a naturally produced gas that encourages ripening. So store your bananas separately, not in a bunch, and they will last up to one week longer. Bonus Tip: If you want an avocado to ripen quicker, place it in a brown paper bag with a banana. The more ethylene gas the avocado is around, the quicker it will ripen!
(4) Make your romaine lettuce (or similar greens) last longer by storing them in a baggie (or sealable container) with paper towel to suck up any moisture. Replace the paper towel as needed.
(3) Preserve your fresh herbs by freezing them with oil or butter to use in a later meal. To defrost, let the cubes slowly warm up in the pan- it’s that easy!
(2) Freeze leftover stock. Don’t toss it! Pour it into an ice cube tray or large plastic container to use on the fly!
(1) Finally, our favourite kitchen hack of all is giving new life to leftovers. Here at Chef’s Plate, we get many responses that our meals are fairly big (hey – it’s a good problem to have!). But who wants to eat the same meal two days in a row? We suggest saving proteins and vegetables and – instead of tossing them – repurposing them into other meals like casseroles and frittatas!