A few days ago I was making a recipe using zucchini and had a small amount left over. It was enough that I could do something with it, but not enough for most recipes. I absolutely LOATHE the idea of throwing food away. Every year, Americans throw out 25% of their food. That can equal up to $2,275 for each household that literally goes in the trash. Yikes!
Statistics have shown that the process of food waste begins in production for this country and 40% is wasted from Farm to Fork. This uneaten food fills landfills with excess levels of methane gas, affecting our environment. I was surprised to learn that instead of getting better in todays modern era of a “green living” society, the waste amount has actually increased 50% since the 1970’s. In a country that is moving toward energy efficiency and programs to better the environment, this is disheartening. There has to be a better way.
While one person can’t save the world, making a few changes in how you look at food waste can make a difference. Here are a few ideas to help reduce food waste in your home:
- Plan out your meals – planning your meals for the week (and sticking to them) can help drastically reduce the garbage pile in your trash can. Without some sort of idea for meals, most people tend to be impulsive shoppers and our eyes start to be bigger than what our stomachs can hold. Take a few minutes to jot down a menu idea and grocery list next time you want to head to the supermarket. Click on this link to get a free grocery guide and menu planner.
- Recognize the meaning of expiration labels – most of us have this idea that if we eat something past the expiration date on a food product, we are sure to come down with the latest strain of flesh eating bacteria and die within the hour. Unless dealing with baby food, most labels are not regulated and only indicate “peak quality” by the manufacturer. This does not indicate that you will get sick, lose all your hair, contract a raging infection, or any other imaginary form of torture that your mind conjures up. I am not saying go out and eat something that expired 2 years ago. Using common sense in this situation is best: if it smells or tastes bad, don’t eat it.
- Find ways to use food before it goes bad – There are so many amazing ways to use food before it goes bad! Produce is the most wasted of all food products, so if it’s starting to look a little shabby for raw consumption, mix it into something else like soups, stews, stir fry, smoothies, casseroles, sauces, drinks etc. The possibilities are endless! Check out this Strawberry Daiquiri Spritzer recipe for a way to use up your sad looking strawberries.
Fortunately my little zucchini found a purpose instead of laying in a landfill. He now graces the top of my salad as a Parmesan Zucchini Crouton. These little crunches are gluten free, vegetable based and deliciously addictive! I had a hard time not eating them off the pan while they cooled. The recipe is intended for smaller batches, but you may want to make more. Like ten-million-zucchinis-worth more.
How do you like to help make the world a better place? Leave a comment to inspire others today!
Parmesan Zucchini Croutons
- 3/4 - 1 cup zucchini sliced thin and then into 1.5 inch pieces
- 2 tbsp grated fresh parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning herbs
- 1/2 tsp pink salt
- 2 tsp olive or avocado oil
- a few cranks of fresh ground pepper
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Slice zucchini 1/2 inch thick and then cut into 1.5 inch pieces (see pic above).
Place in bowl with remaining ingredients and toss well.
Lay pieces flat and separated on parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake for 30 min until golden and crispy.
Try not to eat them all at once.I dare you!
Michele Johnson says
I love this idea! I was searching for a zucchini croutons recipe top homemade heirloom tomato soup, and this fit the bill. I usually saute fresh zucchini briefly, and then dust with salt and pepper.