These spent 45 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees. If you're in a hurry, you can zap them in the microwave for 3-5 minutes. Be sure to pierce them with a fork first.

4 Ways to Reduce Food Waste

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency — along with many private-sector and food-bank partners — announced the first-ever national target for food waste.

“[We’re] basically challenging the country to reduce food waste by 50 percent by the year 2030,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told NPR.

Vilack adds that 133 billion pounds of food is wasted each year–enough to fill Willis Tour.

A lot of that waste comes from agriculture (no one wants to buy ugly fruit), manufacturers and restaurants. But, there’s plenty of waste going on in our own homes as well.

Following are four tips to reduce your family’s food waste:

1. Boil or bake old fruit. Browning apples, pears and even grapes become an incredible treat when you cook them. Add a bit of water and cinnamon to a pot or a baking pan and cook them until soft. Mash it up and enjoy it hot. I guarantee it will all be gone in minutes.

These spent 45 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees. If you're in a hurry, you can zap them in the microwave for 3-5 minutes. Be sure to pierce them with a fork first.

These spent 45 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees. If you’re in a hurry, you can zap them in the microwave for 3-5 minutes. Be sure to pierce them with a fork first.

2. Use products after their sell by date. Most goods are still good well after the sell by date. Be careful with meat, but other than that, the date is merely a suggestion and doesn’t mean much. You can check if eggs are good by placing them in water. If they sink to the bottom and lay on their side, they’re good. And milk? Sour milk is actually buttermilk. Cook up some pancakes with them!

3. Put your old bread to use. Make breadcrumbs once, and you’ll be laughing at anyone who ever buys them. Give bread a whirl in a food processor, and you’ve got breadcrumbs. Store them in the freezer for at least a few months. Or, dice old bread into squares, toss with spices and some oil and bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Hello, croutons.

4 cups diced old bread 3T grape seed oil 1/2 cup assorted freshly chopped herbs (I used basil, rosemary and oregano) 1/2t salt freshly ground pepper to taste

4 cups diced old bread
3T grape seed oil
1/2 cup assorted freshly chopped assorted herbs
1/2t salt
freshly ground pepper to taste

4. Use your vegetable scrapes. All those ends of carrots, onions, cauliflower, broccoli and more? Those veggie scraps make incredible stock. Keep a gallon freezer bag in your freezer and add vegetable scraps every time you cook. When you’re ready to make soup, boil the veggies in water with salt for 20-30 minutes. Strain it, and add it to your soup instead of water.

Did I mention this soup is free?

Did I mention this soup is free?