How to Be A Less ‘Waste-full’ Home Cook
Last week, we started the conversation about Food Waste and what a massive player it is in the climate change debate.
Food Waste is so easy to see first hand and completely relatable to each of us. Every singe household throws away food scraps, meaning- if we all improve a little- we can make a huge impact!
My aim for food waste is not zero. For now, it’s about finding the small changes that we can all achieve in our own homes and kitchens that will contribute to the bigger picture. If we all do one thing, collectively, that is a lot of things! Together, we create meaningful change. Over time, we will build momentum.
It’s so important to remember that change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to adjust and research. You may need to find out where to purchase the things you need, match and tweak your budget to the new intended lifestyle- and of course- form new habits.
My own revelations about food waste and my contribution to that 300 Kilo’s a person has been very recent. I am still feeling my way around (somewhat in the dark, admittedly…) reducing food waste in my home. I find that identifying which opportunities and strategies suit myself and my family – works really well rather than trying to adopt every strategy all at once. The opportunity to change and do better is always there. Other opportunities will continue to be there when you are ready.
Through this series of posts, I hope that we can all increase our awareness and the level of respect we have for food and all that goes into our produce between the farm and our tables. If you want to read some mind-boggling facts about food waste- check out my previous blog here.
Until next week, here are some of the strategies that I have adopted and loved so far:
Storage of salad leaves, mushrooms, and other loose items: If you haven’t got them at home already, now is a great time to invest in some long-lasting, air-tight containers that you can store your loose items in. I promise that in the fridge- this little hack will ensure the best shelf life of your loose produce. They are so much better than storing produce in plastic bags (like when you buy pre-washed greens at the supermarket) or paper bags (soggy leaves in days!). As a side note, it is best to wash your produce just as you are ready to prepare your dish, not in advance.
Make soups, stock and veggie patties: These three kitchen staples are ideal way to use up all of the extra produce in your fridge. The recipes that make up soups, stocks and patties are flexible and can accommodate pretty much anything. My Minestrone Soup can be adapted to include what you have in your fridge, for example. Veggie patties are amazingly easy to make by grating all the veggies you intend you use, squeezing out any excess water, mixing an egg (or two) and a tablespoon each of flour and breadcrumbs to thicken the mixture. Just shallow fry after that!
Storing herbs: Herbs can go wilted very quickly when not stored properly. Outside the fridge, simply pop them into a glass of water (just enough to cover the ends). Inside the fridge, wrap them in a damp paper towel.
Cook according to what’s in the fridge: Learn how to be flexible with your usual recipes and incorporate what you already have in the fridge, rather than going out to buy more produce just because you don’t have something specific. If something has been sitting in your fridge for a while begging to be eaten, non-profit organisation Foodwise has a handy tool where you type in your ingredient and it will find relevant recipes. How cool is that?
Compost: We have a scraps bin on our kitchen bench, which means that all of our food scraps have a convenient place to go during meal prep and clean up. Separating our food scraps immediately has made composting so easy and seamless – once the bin on our kitchen bench is full, the scraps go directly into our backyard composting bin!
Turn your leftovers into a meal: I absolutely love doing this! It gets rid of that odd bowl in the fridge and it reduces my cooking time because at least half of my meal is done! If your leftovers are from a substantial meal, this is the perfect opportunity to eat more veggies – serve your leftovers with a salad or a quick veggie stir fry- or try mixing them with egg for an easy frittata!
Create an “eat me first” bin in your fridge. Place any items that need to be eaten sooner rather than later in a designated bin in your fridge. This way, they won’t be forgotten and go rotten at the back of your fridge.
Before I sign off, I’d love to point you in the direction of Sarah Wilson’s blog post on reusing your food scraps. She’s an ambassador for the International Love Food Hate Waste movement and has awesome insights as well as some clever, and very applicable hacks for your kitchen to help reduce your food waste footprint
Good luck in your ‘reducing food waste’ journey – remember it all starts with one small step.