Did you know that 40% of the food grown in the US doesn’t even get eaten?
Instead, it rots on shelves or goes straight to the landfill.
This is such a ginormous waste, and a travesty when so many of our neighbors go hungry at night.
I know, food waste is a tough issue to tackle, and it has many causes, but each and every one of us can make an impact by taking an honest look at how much food we are throwing away in our own homes.
Typically, we throw away food in 2 ways:
- You purchase food but don’t end up using it, so it goes bad in the back of the fridge.
- You cooked the food but made too much, and the leftovers sit until they’re thrown out.
I’ll admit it, I’m definitely guilty of both of these things on occasion. But typically, I take some time out of my week to do my best to prevent food waste in my home.
The number one way I do this is menu planning.
Each week, I pick out 5 dinners to make and create a shopping list for the ingredients I need.
Pro tip: cross-check your list with what’s already in your pantry so you don’t accidentally double-purchase something.
This helps SO MUCH with impulse buying.
Otherwise, it’s so easy to willy-nilly grab things off the shelves with perfectly good intentions, but no plan. Then, each day goes by and you think about how you “really meant to cook that swiss chard”, but now, five days later, it’s wilted and going bad.
So seriously, I really really recommend picking out recipes and assigning them to a specific day of the week. It takes away so much unnecessary stress, knowing you can come home to a fridge full of ingredients for a yummy easy home-cooked meal.
No more nagging thoughts of “What’s for dinner?” every night. You already know! Because you planned, and you bought everything ahead of time. And you’re officially adulting.
Another fun way to avoid food waste is to actually cook with parts of the plants many people throw away, like beet greens or carrot tops.
Yep, those parts of the plant are just as delicious and enjoyable as the root vegetables they are attached to.
Carrot tops make a mean pesto.
Sure, it’s different than basil-based pesto, but it holds its own with a uniquely fresh and vibrant flavor.
Plus, it’s cheap! I bet you were about to throw those tops straight into the garbage, so why not use them to stretch your dollar and make a whole ‘nother dinner out of them?
Just add the carrot tops to a mini food processor (this one is my favorite*) along with some pepitas (also cheap), garlic, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Whir it all together with a few presses of a button, and voila, pesto is served. Toss with warm pasta and you’re good to go.
PS it’s really fun to make this and NOT tell anyone it’s made with carrot tops until they tell you how delicious it is!
- Leaves without stems from the tops of 1 large bunch of carrots (about 2 cups, lightly packed)
- 2 peeled cloves of garlic
- 1/4 cup roasted salted pepitas, pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
- Juice of 1 small lemon
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 lb dried conchiglie pasta or other shell or tube shape like orecchiette, farfalle, or penne
Place the carrot tops, garlic, pepitas, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a mini food processor. Pulse until the pesto is evenly mixed but still a little bit chunky. Open the processor and scrape the ingredients down the side if needed.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta & cook according to package directions (usually about 9 minutes) until cooked to your liking. Drain, and place in a large bowl.
Scrape the pesto out of the food processor and into the bowl of pasta. Use large utensils to toss until the pasta is well coated. Spoon into bowls and serve with an extra sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
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