Let's explore food insecurity and ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle in the kitchen!
What is Food Insecurity?
Food insecurity describes many things. Where will I get my next meal? What if my money runs out before I can buy enough food? If I'm too busy working, when will I have time to cook a healthy meal?
For answers to questions like these and others, we are lucky to have access to awesome organizations and their people who do their best to help eliminate food insecurity every way they can.
These people have really big hearts and don’t want to see anyone be hungry, because that's a problem that can be fixed!
One of these groups is Rethink Food, a not-for-profit organization out of New York City. They go the extra mile with their program to bring food to the people who need it most.
Rethink Food, and other groups like them, are helping to reduce food waste by joining grocery stores and other places like restaurants to take the food that would be thrown out, and turning it into tasty meals for people in New York City.
Do you have an organization like this in your community? If not, can you think of a way to begin one?
While these groups do a fantastic job of reducing the food waste in the areas around them, you can help reduce the food waste right in your own home. It all starts with knowing how to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle!
Reducing Food Waste at Home
According to studies, a whole lot of food is thrown away every year. We’re talking billions of pounds of perfectly good food.
That’s enough food to feed all the people that need it all the time!
Fortunately, there are quite a few ways that everyone can pitch in and help when it comes to reducing food waste. A little effort can go a long way, and it’s pretty easy to do.
- Taking stock of what you have on hand. That way, when you go to the store for groceries, you’re not buying things you might already have.
- Checking out local sale papers. You can make your food budget go a lot further if you buy items on sale and plan your meals around those foods.
- Planning out meals. When you plan out what kind of foods you want for the week, grocery shopping is a lot easier! Plus, you’ll have yummy stuff to look forward to, because everyone can help decide what’ll be on the menu.
- Prepping ahead of time. If your family has a lot of stuff going on, prepping helps make meal-times a snap. And this is a great way to spend time together too!
- Cooking many dishes at one time. The old adage of "Cook once, eat twice or thrice" applies here. If your food is cooked in the oven such as a casserole or a chicken, slip in another dish or two such as baked apples or some vegetables that can be warmed later and added to another meal. This saves time and money!
Ways You Can Reuse Food Items
There are some pretty cool ways to reuse things in the kitchen.
When you’re prepping for mealtimes, don’t toss out those scraps!
Did you know there are several veggies you can regrow? That’s right! Food scraps like
- the top of a pineapple,
- onions-both spring onions and regular onions,
and more can be regrown with just a little effort. Try growing your own avocado tree!
Turn prep time into a kitchen experiment and try your hand at regrowing some of your own produce in pots on the kitchen counter.
Another way to reuse something from cooking is water! What?! Yep, use the water from boiling pasta or potatoes as the base for your next soup. Make a batch of soup and freeze it for later!
How to Recycle Foods in the Kitchen
Sometimes, a meal is made, everyone has some, and then, you don't have enough leftovers for another meal.
Don’t banish them to the back of the fridge! Leftovers can be recycled and turned into something else entirely, including lunch for the next day! Or you can get creative with your leftovers...
Fun fact-do you know the origins of meatloaf?
This was a way for people to stretch their proteins! The earliest known “meatloaf-type” recipe is from the 5th century in the Mediterranean, calling for meat scraps to be mixed with fruits, nuts and spices. It was also a way to make the most out of anything you had on hand to put together a proper meal for your family.
A casserole is a great way to use up leftover bits of meals. Combine meats, vegetables, and cheese and bake to create a yummy dish.
You can also whip up some amazing frittatas and omelets using leftovers. What a simple and easy idea for dinner! Add leftover vegetables to a pan of gently cooking beaten eggs, then flip over for an omelet or finish in the oven for a frittata.
Another idea is to toss clean vegetable peelings into a bag. Freeze these scraps and keep adding to the bag until it’s full. Use the food bits to make amazing vegetable broth by adding to a stock pot with water and spices and simmering for a few hours. Strain out all the goodies and use right away or freeze. This broth makes outstanding soups full of vitamins and minerals.
Ever heard of a rubber chicken? No, not the squeaky toy. The kitchen miracle!
One roasted chicken can be used for up to three meals! After your family has enjoyed the roasted chicken for the first meal, pick off any remaining bits of chicken. Add those bits to a casserole, enchiladas, or toss in a stir fry with fresh veggies for the second meal.
Simmer the leftover bones in water with an onion, some celery, and some whole peppercorns for 12 hours to make the most delicious homemade chicken broth you've ever tasted. This broth can become your next pot of soup for the third meal. Add a bit of lemon juice and rice for a perfect dish of yum!
For a fun family meal night, make it a smorgasbord! A smorgasbord is a type of Swedish meal made popular at the 1938 World's Fair in New York. Put all of your warmed-up leftover dishes, along with some cheese and bread, out on the table and let everyone have a buffet-style dinner with a little taste of everything they like.
Easing Food Insecurity
We can all pitch in to help ease food insecurity both in our homes and in our communities. There are lots of ways that we can reduce, reuse, and recycle. Everyone pitching in can make a big difference around the world as we eat2explore!