15 delicious ways to reduce food waste.
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I wouldn’t claim to be an environmental whiz kid, but I do the best I can.

I truly believe that even the smallest effort can make a huge difference. I read the numbers on the bottom of my plastic containers to make sure they can be recycled. I use empty bottles of wine to help water my plants — that’s really a win-win because I no longer have to remember to water them! But, I fall short in a few areas. I rarely finish a plate of food and have been guilty of tossing everything in my fridge in search of the one item that’s causing a funk.

Then I learned about food waste. And it’s no joke.

Food is the single largest contributor to landfills, and 40% of food in the U.S. is never eaten. That's a whole lot! But food waste isn't just about what winds up in our trash cans. Producing all of that wasted food uses over 20% of the U.S. supply of freshwater — that's more water than is used by California, Texas, and Ohio combined — and creates as much greenhouse gas emissions as 33 million passenger cars.


Trash on trash on trash. And it doesn't all have to be! Image via Petrr/Flickr.

And food is a tricky issue in general. At the same time all of this food is being wasted, there are so many places, in the U.S. and abroad, where families simply do not have access to the nutritious foods that are out there.

Given all this, it seemed worth taking a look at ways to reduce food waste — or, at the very least, our individual food waste. These tips aren't a cure-all, but doing just a little bit can help to make these very big issues just a bit smaller. Here are a few of my favorites.

First things first: In an ideal world, our food wouldn't go bad.

Sometimes we can’t avoid it. We put a pear at the bottom of a bowl, and by the time we get to it, it’s becoming pear cider. But that’s what refrigerators are for! Did you know that those drawers at the bottom serve a specific purpose? I didn’t. Turns out, it's called a crisper for a reason. Want to become an expert at storing your fruits and veggies? Here are a few tips:

  • Potatoes, onions, and tomatoes don't need to be kept in the fridge. It's actually better if they aren't.
  • Salad greens should be stored in bags filled with a little air and sealed tightly. As someone who tries to remove all air from ziplock bags, this was an interesting tip.
  • Not all fruits can be stored together: Avocados, bananas, and kiwis produce ethylene as they ripen, so they need to be separated from fruits like apples to prevent the latter from going bad.  

Those two drawers? They aren't just for top shelf overflow. Image via LaraLove/Wikimedia Commons.

Now, if you have a few food items that are already past their prime, there’s still time! These recipes are for you.

Full disclosure: I tried a few of these myself, but most of the delicious goodness you’re about to see is courtesy of the DIY mavens online.

Bruised fruit just ... isn’t cute. But it’s still delicious.

Bananas look downright unappealing when they’re brown and spotty on the outside, but did you know that’s actually when they’re at the best for a few recipes?

I had a very unattractive banana lying around and decided to put it to good use.

Not looking so good, banana. Image by Mae Cromwell/Upworthy.

1. Meet banana fritters.

I made these myself. And they were delicious. Image by Mae Cromwell/Upworthy.

2. And banana bread is another great way to get rid of your spotted bananas!

3. Do you have overripe peaches, strawberries, or really any fruit you find irresistible? Turn it into jam! It’s surprisingly easy.

These jars of home-canned peaches look SO good. Image via Rachel Tayse/Flickr.

4. Love breakfast foods? Your bruised fruit can play a role there, too. Those fruit-filled pancakes aren’t just for a fancy brunch. Smash your overripe fruit in a bowl, and make your own pancakes at home.

*Drooling.* Image via Matheus Swanson/Flickr.

5. And how about popsicles? Did you know you could make those with overripe fruit? Your bruised peaches never looked so good.

And then there’s stale bread — it still has its uses!

6. Confession: I’m not much of a bread eater. Too often, I’d buy a loaf of gluten-free bread, forget about it, and toss it. But now I know that dried out bread can be transformed and used for something I really do like: breading things! Fried catfish is going to be perfect from now on.

I'm absurdly proud of these bread crumbs! Image by Mae Cromwell/Upworthy.

7. And if you eat a lot of salads, spice them up with homemade croutons.

Croutons have never looked so good. Image via Tasha/Flickr.

A lot of us have fallen victim to wasting parts of a whole rotisserie chicken. But not anymore.

After that first meal, there’s often so much chicken left that next steps can be confusing. Do you eat the same meal for a few days or toss the leftovers? Do neither! There are tons of ways to reuse leftover chicken.

8. Tacos

A Taco Tuesday staple. Image via Larry Hoffman/Flickr.

9. Chicken salad

Image via Lara604/Flickr.

10. BBQ it! Yes, you can take the same chicken, slather some BBQ sauce all over it, and voilà! A new meal. You can eat it as-is or shred it and make a sandwich. The world is yours.

Mouth-watering leftovers. Image via jeffreyw/Flickr.

11. As we head into winter, you can't go wrong with some comforting chicken soup.

Perfect for a chilly day. Or any day, really. Image via Carol VanHook/Flickr.

12. And as a new West Coast resident, I can vouch for chicken quesadillas. Shred or chop up your leftovers and make them part of this meal. You won’t regret it.

Image via Andy Melton/Flickr.

And — this is mind-blowing — you can revive some of that produce you wrote off as goners. Yes, you read that right.

13. Carrots?

14. Lettuce?  

15. Parsley?

As certain vegetables wilt and start to lose their texture, they can be revived with some good ol’ water. Seriously. This is like a magic trick that we can all pull off.

So, you get it: Food waste sucks, but there are (delicious) ways to contribute to the solution.

Try some of these tips at home, and post your own tips! You never know which one of your tips can save someone else a ton of time and money while helping us all to treat this planet a little bit better.

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When my friend Jenny Levison told me she was launching what she called a "Kindness Tour," in the middle of the pandemic last year, I thought she'd lost her mind.

Levison is a celebrity chef and the owner of five "Souper Jenny" restaurants in the Atlanta area. To say that she walks to the beat of her own drum is an understatement. Once she makes her mind up to do something, there really isn't any stopping her. And she is someone who is committed both in her life and her work to giving back, paying it forward, and helping those who need it -- even if that means renting an RV, covering it with peace stickers, and heading out on the road to give away free food for weeks at a time.

Levison tells me that the first "Souper Jenny Kindness Tour" was born out of a drive to help people having a rough time in 2020. Knowing how hard the restaurant industry was hit and all the people who were impacted by it, she launched a six-week tour from Atlanta to California last October.

"Everyone was struggling and frankly, I needed some hope as well. I called one of my besties and told her what I wanted to do. I wanted to hop in an RV, drive west and start to spread the word that hope and joy were still alive and kindness was the new cool."

She says the first trip was "life-changing."


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From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

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Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

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