Hey Stuffers! I hope you had a nice Easter break with lots of rest, fun, and food. Speaking of food, the discussion around food waste has been pretty big in the media lately, especially in the light of recent legislature in France which forces large supermarkets to donate food to charity as it nears its best-before date, or have it turned into animal feed or compost. Other countries are starting to move in the same direction as well, with Italy and the UK taking steps toward other food waste reduction bills. Very cool.
While it’s nice to know that some *hesitant first* steps are being taken towards reducing food waste in the industry sectors, it is also important for us to be mindful about the waste in our own homes.
Getting the most out of your food is good for the environment, your health, and your wallet – so why not? Here are a few key tips to reducing food waste.
QUANTITY CONTROL AND STORAGE
One of the first ways to avoid food spoiling and going to waste, is to get to know your own shopping needs and storage at home. You want to get the balance between finding yourself at the supermarket four times a week with three carrots in your basket, and buying so much produce once a month that only half of it fits into your fridge. I try to do a weekly shop at the market for fruit and veg, then a trip to the supermarket or Bin Inn for other stuff. Often I fail and end up at Countdown with a single random ingredient, but it’s a work in progress! It’s also important to know the best way for each to be stored once it’s at home. Recently I found out that potatoes and onions are best stored separately because they produce gasses that work to spoil each other. Good to know!
Once you have an idea of what you need for the week, and the best way to store your food then you are less likely to have anything going off.
Make sure to use up any sad veggies that are going floppy in your fridge by challenging yourself to cook new meals, as well as finding your favourite recipes that can use up all sorts of different ingredients. Curries, soups, stir-frys, omelettes, fruit crumbles… Whatever floats your boat!
Sometimes you are inundated with a certain fruit or veg and there are more than you can use up or give away – especially at this time of the year when harvests are coming in! Foraging has been an awesome way to get a load of fruit that can easily be preserved in lots of ways, and a pear/apple stew is definitely on the cards for me.
My courgette plants have been churning out goodies this season and I ended up with a few too many in the fridge. Knowing that I always crave courgette in the winter but don’t want to buy it out of season, I had a go at blanching then freezing a batch.
USE UP THE REST
Even when you do your best to use up all the food you buy, sometimes there are bits and pieces that won’t get used in your everyday cooking. But never fear! There are lots of things you can do to avoid those scraps ending up in the landfill.
Living in a city with a built in composting system is pretty rad – if you don’t want to have your own compost, then the Green Bin really is the biggest GB in your life. Chur brah. I have also heard of other places setting up community composts in lieu of a council system, so check out what might be in your area. I recently started my own compost, and I’ll update you on how that’s going once it’s fully up and running! So far I have been chucking my scraps onto the pile and letting the chooks pick through what they want from it. It’s been very convenient ☺
This is my compost bin, complete with a leafy carrot top garnish. I bought it from Kmart before my zero waste days. It has a handy lid to keep smells in, and is a good size for 4 people to fill without everything rotting at the bottom in the meantime. An ice cream container also works perfectly, or you could thrift for a non-plastic equivalent. To make sure that my flatties and I use the compost bin regularly, I have it within easy access at all times so there is no temptation to throw food in the rubbish.
This is my favourite way to make the most out of your scraps. It’s easy, it uses good parts of vegetables that you might usually not cook with, and gives you a whole new product! Stock is a cupboard staple, but many stocks are packaged wastefully, cost a load more than they should, and are made with extra additives you don’t really need or want in your body. This way you have control over your recipe and can use variations of scraps to customise your stock. Win!
I make a simple veggie stock, but of course you can also use up leftover meat and bones you may have. Might as well use every part of the animal!
My process of collecting scraps is easy. I simply keep a sturdy paper bag in the shelf of my freezer and every time I cook I pop my stock scraps in it – it can fill up pretty quickly! My most common scraps are usually: carrot tops, onion ends/outer skins, potato/kumera/pumpkin skins, celery ends and leaves, herb stalks, courgette and capsicum offcuts, and often a couple of random veggies that are floppy enough for even me to not want to cook with (I have pretty low standards and I’m fine with that). The only things I’ve heard aren’t so good in stocks are the cruciferous veggies – broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts… the kinda things you don’t want to eat if they’ve been boiled to smithereens.
There are lots of recipes out there on how to make stock, but here is my version!
- Fry some onion, garlic, and a couple of bay leaves in a big pot, using an oil of your preference.
- Add your scraps and fill the pot with water. You can also add other types of herbs if you have them on hand. I like a lot of parsley and a sprig of rosemary. Feel free to season with salt and pepper – I think this technically makes it broth rather than stock, but whatevs.
- Boil then simmer for a while. I usually give it 45-60 mins.
- Tip the stock into a big bowl through a sieve or colander. Then use a piece of muslin cloth when transferring the broth into containers – this catches any little particles that may be hanging about.
- I use small-ish jars as stock containers because I can defrost the amount needed for a meal quite easily. Some people make stock ice cubes, while others do a big batch and defrost and refreeze as necessary. Up to you! Just remember to leave some space for the stock to expand as it freezes. You don’t want to deal with that kind of mess. Trust me.
- Chuck your leftover veggie mush on the compost with the contented knowledge that it had a useful life and can now nourish the soil.
It’s as simple as that! Enjoy your delicious, nutritious, cheap-ious, waste free-ious stock ☺
There are many other ways to use up leftovers, and at the moment I am working on making Apple Scrap Vinegar that I found through Zero Waste Chef! I think I will have to do another post on the topic of food waste, and I can let you know then how my vinegar experiment turned out.
In the meantime we love to hear your suggestions and questions so hit us up!
See you next month,
header image from https://au.lifestyle.yahoo.com/better-homes-gardens/g/25265615/food-waste-in-australia-facts/