Q. I’m trying to reduce food waste in my kitchen. Do you have any recommendations on how to do so? – Kim, Appleton
A. My wife and I just had this discussion recently. While it might sound obvious, the key to reducing food waste is to monitor over-purchasing and over-producing on the front end and to maximize consumption on the back end. When purchasing meats, fruits and vegetables, there will be some obvious waste as part of cleaning and trimming. (If anyone has a use for the rind of a melon or a pineapple other than composting, please let me know!) Efficient utilization of everything that is edible takes vigilance and some menu planning. One suggestion might be to blanch and freeze any extra items for future use. For example, if you bought a whole stalk of celery and only needed half, cut up the rest and blanch and freeze it for future use. Planned leftovers is another great way to maximize your utilization of product. I cook BBQ a lot more in the summer than I do in the winter, and those frozen ribs sure come in handy some weeks. Soups, stews and casseroles are another great way to convert leftover food items into something better and maximize product usage along the way. Reducing waste is critically important in the restaurant business, and many of the same methods used in food service can be employed in our kitchens as well.