We are lucky to live in a planet that produces an overabundance of food. I feel extremely grateful every time I put fruits and veggies in my grocery cart, place a large plate of pasta on the family dinner table, and take my friends homemade cookies to school. Food is a blessing, and we should all be truly thankful that it's easily available and accessible, as this is unfortunately not the case for many others on this planet. 

Currently, roughly one-third of all food in the world gets lost or wasted. Whether it be due to leftovers being thrown away, expired or untouched items at a grocery store being discarded, or simply throwing scraps of food away when cooking, it all leads to food waste, which we should be more conscious about nowadays. Not only does reducing food waste lead to better environmental circumstances, but it also helps keep us conscious of the fact that food and water, in simple terms, are precious.

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It's not hard to ensure leftover supermarket products get to people who need them (take a look here for different ways you can help fight food insecurity in Miami), but even easier is reducing waste in the kitchen, including water waste. From reusing different items to composting, it all makes the world a greener place and makes you feel good simultaneously. Here are 8 ways to reduce food waste the next time you're in your kitchen. 

1. Use Beet/Carrot/Strawberry Greens in Other Dishes

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Don't throw away the leafy greens on top of your fruits and veggies! The leaves on top of your carrots, beets, and strawberries, for example, can all be sautéd in a little bit of oil with garlic, salt, and pepper to make a delicious side dish, or they can be thrown into salads and soups for a yummy and unique mix of nutrients. 

2. Don't Leave the Faucet Running When Doing the Dishes

Tap, water, running water and faucet | HD photo by Imani (@spider_mani) on Unsplash

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This may seem easy, but a ton of us mindlessly forget to do it, myself included. When you're scrubbing, all you have to do is make sure the faucet isn't continuously running while the water isn't being used; use little things to remind you to shut it off, such as putting post it notes on the fridge, or putting a little note on the dish drying rack. 

3. Make Cookies with Almond Milk Pulp

nut, almond, walnut
Torey Walsh

A bunch of people are super into making almond milk at home these days, and for good reason: it's easy, contains less additives than store-bought, and is definitely cheaper in the long run! One of the products of making your own, however, is leftover almond pulp after the milk is strained. Don't throw this away! This pulp works just like almond flour would; here are many recipes you can make using almond flour that you didn't know you could make!

4. Compost Food Scraps That You Peeled Off

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Alex Frank

Did you know that there are many food scraps that can actually be decomposed into soil? It's true! Mixing simple scraps together from things that come from the ground, such as apple cores, egg shells, and avocado pits, actually makes a natural fertilizer that you can use to grow your food! Food making food...a beautiful concept!

5. Roast Pumpkin/Spaghetti Squash/Butternut Squash Seeds

Food, pumpkin, gourd and cut open | HD photo by Nick Collins (@webdesignnewcastle) on Unsplash

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I love munching on seeds as a snack! Make your own instead of buying a pack; all you need are the leftover seeds from the middle of a butternut squash, pumpkin, spaghetti squash, etc. Reduce food waste by removing them from their respective veggie, placing them on a tray with some olive oil and a healthy pinch of salt, and roasting them on high for a couple minutes until they get yummy and crunchy. The perfect munchy way to get more nutrients in while saving food all at the same time!

6. Add Stalks and Stems to Soups

Healthy Soup | HD photo by Henrique Félix (@henriquefelix) on Unsplash

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Broccoli stems, kale stalks...we all tend to discard these when prepping our meals for the sake of making tastier food that is easier to eat. However, did you know these "scraps" actually are just as healthy as their "whole" friends? Throw in a couple of broccoli stems, kale stalks, or other leftover parts from prepped veggies into soups, broths, or even into smoothies for a great way to reuse food, without sacrificing taste! (No, you will NOT taste broccoli stems in a smoothie made with frozen fruit; try it!)

7. Freeze Ripened Fruits and Veggies for Future Use

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Caroline Ingalls

Have bananas on your counter that are getting too spotty to be eaten? What about those strawberries in the back of your fridge that you forgot about? Yes, you can make some banana bread with those sweet nanners, or even throw some of those berries into a smoothie. But, if you want them to stop ripening and become the best creamy addition to any milkshake, all you have to do is place them in a plastic bag and freeze them! Food waste inhibited!

#Spoontip: frozen bananas with almond butter make a delicious dessert that tastes just like ice cream -- minus all the added sugar!

8. Turn Sandwich Crusts into Bread Crumbs

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If you, your siblings, or your kids are not a huge fan of sandwich bread crusts, it's okay, we've all been there! I mean, who doesn't love a soft bite of a turkey sandwich for lunch? Just don't throw away those crusts, though! They can be easily blended in a food processor and made into bread crumbs that can be used to make chicken nuggets, veggie burgers, or even to top your next delicious bowl of mac and cheese. 

What are you going to do next to ensure food waste is put to an end? It's very small things that we usually don't even think about that can have the biggest impact on the ultimate preservation of our planet. Whether you freeze your bananas the next time they're too spotty to snack on, or simply make sure the sink is not on when you're scrubbing away at your dinner plates, it's all taking a huge leap towards making our gorgeous earth a better place for all of us to live on.