{ABC 7 News} Native Foods Chefs Reveal Water Saving Secrets in the Kitchen

California's water shortage is overwhelming, yet experts keep finding creative ways for us to turn off our tap.

In Culver City, Native Foods' Scott McDonnell told me how they reduce water use.

It starts with defrosting food. They no longer put frozen food in warm water.

"We thaw them in the refrigerator. You just have to think a day, maybe two at the most ahead," McDonnell said.

They measure the exact amount of water needed per recipe for pasta or veggies. That water is later used to hydrate plants.

Veggies are rinsed in a pot and that water is saved for pets. Plus, that veggie water has trace minerals in it, too.

On clean up, dishwashers aren't run until they're full. Staff wipes excess food off dishes rather than rinse.

"A lot of people think it's important to kind of scrub your dishes before you throw them in the dish washer. Which is kind of not letting dishwashers do their job," said Graham Hamilton of the nonprofit Surfrider Foundation.

Hamilton suggests other ways you can re-use your rinse water.

"Keep a basin in the sink. Use that used dish water to water your plants," Hamilton said.

Don't run water to cool it down or heat up. Keep a water pitcher in the fridge for cold drinking water. On the flip side, microwave water to get it hot rather than run the tap.

Surprisingly, food choices can cut water use.

While no one is telling you to skip meat entirely, if you could miss one meat meal a day, by eating something meat-free, you'd be saving hundreds of gallons of water.

That's because growing, feeding and processing cows for consumption costs a lot water-wise.

"One meal a day, then you're looking at 3,500 gallons per week per person," McDonnell said.

In August, Native Foods launched "The Veg Pledge" campaign where members got a $14 credit, $1 for every 1,000 gallons of water they saved. Some of the proceeds were donated to Surfrider Foundation for their Quality Water promotion month.

The program resulted in a pledge of almost 44 million gallons saved.

By Lori Corbin, KABC