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Suggestions on How to Reduce Food Waste by Alison Mountford

This weekend I reached out to Alison Mountford, Chef and Food Waste expert. Alison is the Founder and CEO of Ends+Stems, a meal planning service designed to reduce household food waste and stop the effects of climate change. She has 15 years of experience as a professional chef and entrepreneur. She is a 2018 Rubicon Waste Fit Champion and advocate for reducing waste.

I wanted some simple suggestions that we could do to reduce food waste.

How should we meal plan to minimize food waste?

* In a nutshell, here's what I do:

Start with the family calendar - who will be home/who will be out. Be realistic about how many nights you'll cook from scratch - a lot of the research has led me to advocate for 3 meals/ week. Perhaps, cook double portions and eat that meal twice. Take stock of what's aging or which items in your pantry have been sitting there awhile. What can you cook with those items? Choose your recipes, plug them into the calendar. Choose a night late in the week for leftovers; typically Thursday or Friday. Compile a grocery list, then compare it against what you have at home. Shop, cook, eat!

Expiration Dates are confusing, any tips for navigating them?

Expiration dates printed on anything are not an indication of food safety. The ONLY exception is baby formula. So, if you're looking at anything other than formula, please disregard the date. Isn't that wild? It's true, I promise. To test if food is safe to eat, you have to rely on your senses and many of us are out of practice. Sniff, look, listen... even taste! If you see mold, bubbles where there aren't normally (usually in things like salsa), or hear any popping sounds, it might not be good. You can taste things like milk... spoiled milk won't hurt you and you can actually make pancakes with it!  (recipe from Save the Food).

When in doubt, google it. You can find out how to test an egg, or flour, or vegetables online and compare that to what your senses tell you. Expiration dates are for batching, for marketing, for grocery stores, and that is truly it.

Are there any apps or services to help reduce food waste?

  • OLIO is a neighborhood marketplace that you can use to share extra food with others or pick up things from neighbors - I've scored homegrown lemons and bags of sugar this way! 

  • SAVE THE FOOD - has a great resource for planning party spreads called the Guest-imeter! 

  • And of course, Ends+Stems, my service. We're a meal planning platform that will choose recipes for you, scale them, and help you to use up what you buy from end to stem! We do the mental labor of the meal planning process so you can get to the fun part. Each week, we have an impact report. It shows how much less you've wasted and then adds your total to all of the other members efforts. You come away knowing and realizing what you are doing is well worth the effort! 

Alison Mountford, Chef

Ends+Stems will tell you what’s for dinner tonight and make it easy to reduce food waste at home. Exclusive, easy to follow recipes specifically created to taste amazing while using up everything you buy each week. Ends+Stems meal plans are created weekly and posted to your personalized dashboard. With one click, you’ll generate a grocery checklist and a weekend prep-ahead list. Shop online or at your favorite stores, buy less, and follow along as we guide you through your week free of food waste and full of delicious dinners.

Contact Information:

Instagram: @endsandstems

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