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Answered: Our readers’ tips for reducing food waste in their homes

See what your fellow Portlanders do to keep food fresh longer and limit the amount of scraps that go in their garbage.

An assortment of vegetables including front to back, onions, tomatoes, cabbages, cucumbers, carrots, squash, and beets.

It’s a shame to waste the work that went into growing the lovely produce we enjoy in the PNW.

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In recognition of Food Waste Prevention Week, we asked our readers to share their tips on keeping food fresh for longer. We love the shelf life of these suggestions.

Alternatives for apartment residents is a worldwide website that connects people who have food scraps, but no place to compost them, with others willing to accept those scraps for composting. In Portland, most apartments do not have access to a green bin for food scraps and yard debris. People who live in houses can agree to share their green bin or backyard compost with them.

I have been on the website since 2019 and have said yes to 83 people who emailed me to ask if they can add their scraps to my green bin. Some have moved away or probably found a friend closer to them, and most people don’t drop off every week. I only occasionally see them, and my bin rarely fills up. I have two compost bins in my backyard for my own veggie scraps. I have a standard informative email that I send when I get a new request.” - Carey B.

Keep your greens fresh

“This is one of my favorite food hacks. After opening a bag of spinach or salad greens, place a paper towel in the bag with remaining greens. They will last longer!” - Jan F.

“Simple, but effective. I have an old Tupperware large, loaf-shaped container; I’m assuming it was made to hold bread. Any large tub with a good lid will do. Pull a head of lettuce apart and wash the leaves in cold water. Use the outer bowl of a salad spinner to submerge them. Drain and use the spinner to dry leaves — they’ll still be moist.

Line the bottom of the plastic container with a paper towel. Layers the leaves loosely and add one more paper towel halfway to the top. Seal with lid. I’ve had lettuce keep for up to two weeks this way - still crisp and ready to add to salad or sandwiches.” - Debby H.

Soup for you

Make a pot of leftovers soup! It’s amazing but somehow it always tastes good. I use veggies getting old, that little bit of of tomato paste or mustard or chili oil lingering in the fridge, even cooked stuff like burgers, shredded chicken, rice, stuffing, refried beans, cubed pizza, leftover Thai/Italian/etc. Just make or buy some broth of choice, and toss it all in to simmer. And to avoid wasting fruit, a squeeze of that aging lemon or lime at the end usually brightens the dish.” - Alenna S.

Extend the life of your avocados

“Place avocado on the counter. As soon as it feels a tiny bit soft, place it in the refrigerator. Avocados will stay perfect in the refrigerator for a few weeks.” - Sheri P.

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