Keep food fresh during holiday travels (or when you’re just too busy to mind the fridge).
We surveyed millennials about food waste habits and found that almost half (42%) are wasting at least 20% of the fresh food they purchase each month. Here to make sure your next grocery haul actually gets eaten is Joel Gamoran, host of A&E’s Scraps and author of Cooking Scrappy.
- Plan ahead. Keeping a kitchen stocked with good ingredients is kind of like coming home to a clean house. Before you go on holiday, clean the fridge and shop for your return. Choose items with long shelf lives: eggs, grains like couscous or rice, squash, firm onions and garlic. Then you can assemble a butternut-squash spaghetti carbonara or simple risotto in no time.
- Make friends with your freezer. There’s a reason chefs love freezers: they dramatically slow down the time it takes for food to go bad. Pre-cooked grains, those olive oil and herb ice cubes the Internet loves so much and fruit like berries and dates are some favorite contenders. To thaw foods like a Chef, slowly raise the temp of ingredients by storing them in the fridge overnight.
- Save your herbs. Fresh herbs = most likely to go bad while you’re out of town. You can use dried herbs to make an herb salt, like this easy one: Morton Salt + a combination of dried herbs. Or, pick the fresh leaves off the stem, place them in an ice-cube tray, top them with olive oil, and store in a tray in the freezer. Toss a cube in the pan when roasting a chicken or sautéing veggies. Increase shelf life and add a ton of flavor to your meal. Done.
- Store it right. Storing food incorrectly is a huge cause of food waste while you’re on vacation or just not keeping tabs on your fridge. All animal proteins (except eggs) should go in the freezer, even cheeses. Lettuces, greens, and veggies should be wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a paper or plastic bag with holes in it so that they can breathe. Don’t leave an opened bottle of half-finished wine in the fridge for more than a couple of days—it won’t last.
- Think before you toss. Morton’s survey revealed that fresh fruits and veggies – especially leafy greens, like kale – are tossed out most often (60%). (No secret as billions of pounds of produce goes to waste each year worldwide.) So, if you come home to veggies that are overripe or wilted, make a batch of soup instead of giving them the heave-ho. Wilted lettuce and herbs or overripe tomatoes can be turned into a hearty minestrone or white-bean soup.