36 beginner tips to reduce waste in your kitchen

by Mar 2, 2020Sustainable living

Are you getting tired and disheartened by all the waste that you’re producing in the kitchen on a day to day basis? And do you often wish that there is something you could do about it, but you have no idea how or where to start?

You’re certainly not alone with these feelings. I’m still very much in that process of trying to figure out new ways on how to be mindful of the waste that I’m personally producing.

I’d say most of our waste that we produce throughout the week comes from our kitchen. But that also means that that’s the place where there is a lot of opportunity to reduce it!

So to help you get started, I created a list of 36 tips on how to reduce your waste in the kitchen. Let’s have a look at them, shall we?

Tips to reduce your food waste at home

1. Plan your meals a few days in advance. That way, you can organize which ingredients you’re going to need for those meals. This reduces the chance of buying a whole lot of stuff of which you’re not sure how and when to prepare it.

2. Measure your food before you cook it, such as rice or pasta for example. You can calculate how many plates you want to make and then use those numbers.

3. If you have any leftovers, eat them another day. You can also give it to family or friends, or freeze it for later.

4. Following the last tip: label your leftovers. That way you can remember exactly when it was cooked (or ordered) and how long it might last in the fridge or freezer. I prefer doing it the old-school way with a marker, but there are also apps out there to keep track on a calendar.

5. If you notice that your fruit and veggies are almost going bad, make a delicious juice or smoothie with it.

6. Not feeling like a smoothie or juice just yet? You can also pop your super rice produce in the freezer and use it later. Make sure to use an airtight container to maintain quality.

7. Start composting your fruit and vegetable scraps. It can even be done in small apartments, so don’t worry about needing a garden for that! Check out this other blog post that I wrote to get started.

8. You can also use some of your vegetable trimmings to make homemade vegetable broth. You can save the scraps in a bag in the freezer until you have enough to make your own broth.

9. Grow it yourself! It can save both packaging materials and money. And you don’t need to have a whole vegetable garden to start growing some of your own things. If you have a bit of space, herbs are quite easy to grow and don’t require that much time. But even if you live in a small apartment, you can for example also grow your own sprouts.

Tips to reduce waste with kitchen storage

10. Looking for an eco-friendly alternative to plastic wraps? Get yourself some long-lasting reusable wax wraps to cover your bowls and plates, or to individually wrap your food items.

11. Instead of wrapping your food, you can also choose to store your food in long-lasting containers. This brings me to the next tip:

12. Once your plastic containers are worn out, switch to either stainless steel containers or mason jars. When you choose quality containers, they will last much longer in your kitchen. If you’re ready to make the switch before the plastic containers are worn out or broken, you can still use both for different purposes in your kitchen.

13. Stainless steel works also great for lunchboxes. It’s of course much eco-friendlier than using plastic baggies every day. But it also saves your food from getting crushed in your bag. Double win!

14. Do you still have plastic baggies in your kitchen? Wash and reuse them first. And then once they can’t be used anymore, don’t bring new ones into your home again.

15. If you have the choice, buy products that come in reusable jars or bottles. Then once they are empty you can use them to store all kinds of stuff. I have countless empty jars from my jam addiction, but also numerous jars from all the cookies that my husband ate. 😊 Now we use them for storing a whole range of things, such as pasta, muesli, rice, dog cookies, sugar, oats, seeds, you name it!

Tips to reduce waste during grocery shopping

16. Check expiration dates before you buy something. That way, you can decide if you still have enough time to finish the product before it turns bad. Another reason why meal planning is a good idea. 😊

17. Instead of using disposable plastic bags every time you do groceries, make sure to always bring a reusable grocery bag wherever you go.

18. Next to a bigger reusable grocery bag, also invest in some smaller reusable produce bags. By doing so, you don’t need to use single-use plastic bags literally every time you buy veggies and fruits.

19. Of course we shouldn’t forget about our bread. I personally love eating bread, as I’m from the Netherlands. 😉 And a way for you to reduce waste when buying bread, is to use reusable bread bags rather than choosing breads with plastic packaging.

20. Do some research and ask around if there are any places in your area with bulk bins. These are great places to reduce your waste, as you can simply take your own containers and bags and fill them up. Not only new hip low-waste supermarkets should have this opportunity. You can often also fill your containers up at old-school markets. It depends on your country of course for what types of foods that is the case.

21. If there are no places with bulk bins in your area, then another option is to buy your food in bulk packages. In that way you can still reduce the amount of packaging materials that you’re using.

22. Try to minimize the amount of individually wrapped foods and products that you buy. Good examples are candy bars, lollypops, dishwasher tablets etcetera.

23. In line with the last tip: also be mindful of single-use drinks in cans and bottles. If you can, try to avoid it as much as possible. It really adds up!

Tips to reduce waste during cleaning

24. Time for a new dish brush or sponge? Rather than getting the standard plastic ones again, make sure to buy one with natural plant fibres and bamboo handles.

25. Get started with some DIY! It’s perfectly doable to make your own cleaning products for the kitchen. There are loads of tutorials online to help you get started. Not only does it help you to get rid of a lot of chemicals in your home. It also saves a whole lot of packaging materials too.

26. If you have a dish washer: either use soap nuts or buy eco-friendly products in bulk to reduce waste.

27. As a follow up from the last tip: rather than using individually wrapped tablets for your dish washer, buy a liquid detergent (in bulk). After it’s empty, consider reusing the plastic bottle for a different purpose rather than throwing it out.

28. Rather than using paper towels to clean up spills, get yourself some durable dish cloths. Not only does it save you a lot of money in the long run. It saves a huge amount of paper waste too! And I personally think it’s much easier to clean with wet dish cloths than dry paper.

Tips to reduce waste with kitchen supplies

29. Still drinking from plastic water bottles? Then there’s a big opportunity to reduce a lot of waste there. Get yourself a stainless steel water bottle and carry it around everywhere you go. Not only does it help you save a lot of plastic waste, these bottles also do a very good job at keeping your drinks insulated. Make sure you choose a super pretty bottle, so that you’ll be more than happy to always bring it with you! I personally have a very bright pink bottle and I’m totally in love with it. 😊

30. Talking about keeping drinks insulated: if you are a coffee or tea drinker, a stainless steel coffee mug would also be very useful to bring along. Next to keeping your beverages hot, it will also save a lot of paper cups throughout the day. Bonus points if you make your coffee at home and compost the coffee grounds.

31. Following the last tip: filter your own hot beverages! Get yourself a nice tea strainer so that you can get rid of the single use tea bags. More of a coffee drinker? Rather than using disposable paper cone filters, see if you can make the switch to a reusable coffee filter insert!

32. Rather than having all these plastic cooking utensils, see if you can find yourself some bamboo alternatives. I personally find it really nice to cook with and it’s very strong and durable.

33. Having a party or going out for a picknick? Skip the disposable plates, cups, and cutlery. If possible, try to just use normal dishes and utensils. If that’s not an option, use compostable alternatives instead.

34. I personally can’t be bothered with using a straw all that often. But if you really like your drink better by using a straw, please get yourself a reusable one. Stainless steel straws are a great option. They’re also ideal for when you’re travelling and like to order a smoothie here or there!

35. Are you still using single-use cupcake liners or plastic ice cube trays? Both of them can be swapped easily for durable silicone versions!

36. I already mentioned in tip #29 that you can switch from paper towels to dish cloths for cleaning. But cloth can be useful for all kinds of things in the kitchen. I grew up with kitchen towels, tea towels, napkins, all made of cloth and all with their own purpose. I never even realized that other people use paper towels instead. But if you do, know that you can easily do all the same things with cloth alternatives.

Wrapping up

So those were the 36 tips that I wanted to share with you to get started with reducing your waste in the kitchen.

However, I’d very much like to encourage you to take it step by step. Especially if you are new to this. Nobody is perfect and everyone’s situation is different. Choose the tips that you think could work for you now, and take it from there. It’s not realistic to do it all at once. So please don’t be too hard on yourself and appreciate every step forward. It gets easier over time and before you know it, most of these tips will be second nature in your kitchen routine.

And perhaps you have a great tip too that you couldn’t find in this list? Please share it in the comments section so that we can help each other lowering our impact in the kitchen!

About Me

My name is Lenore and it is my mission to present women with tips and tricks on how to create a healthier lifestyle, but also on how to live more sustainably where less is more. So if you're looking for just that, you're in the right place!