Whether you’ve heard of the #ZeroWaste movement or not, every home cook knows that sometimes there is a lot of food left over after preparing and consuming a meal, and very often this eventually goes into the dustbin.
It’s not just you: according to the WWF one-third of all food produced in South Africa ends up in the dump. That’s 10 million tonnes of food going to waste every year, and fruits, vegetables and cereals account for 70% of this.
So, what can you do to reduce food wastage at home?
We asked the Journey to Zero Waste community for tips and meal planning was the number one most recommended tip to reduce food wastage at home. According to thekitchn.com, meal planning is the art of “selecting recipes, shopping for ingredients, and prepping your meals”. Done right, meal planning saves time and money, and reduces stress, as well as food waste. Meal planning doesn’t mean you can’t eat out or grab a takeaway, it just means that you plan for these occasions so you’re not left with a fridge full of food of wilting expired food.
Start eating those leftovers. They’re great for work lunches the next day, so stock up on some trendy lunchboxes and pack yourself a delicious lunch. Alternatively, pop them into the freezer and eat them next week when you’re too tired to cook and too hungry to wait for the pizza delivery guy. Colleen Black, a vocal promoter of the Zero Waste lifestyle and blogger at lifelivedsimply.co shared her top tips for using up odds and ends in the kitchen.
“Leafy vegetables should be washed and stored in airtight containers or in cloth bags to help them stay fresh much longer,” she told us. “You can usually perk up veg that looks passed its best by submerging them in ice cold water, while soggy tomatoes can be chopped, roasted and blended to make a tomato sauce.”
“Soft and bendy cauliflower and broccoli can be steamed and blended with seasoning, garlic and butter to make a tasty vegetable mash, but if you have lots of vegetables that are starting to look passed their best, make a large pot of vegetable curry and freeze it in portion sized containers in the freezer.”
The freezer is your friend! Freeze meal portions for later, freeze leftovers for later, freeze off-cuts of meat and veg for soups and stocks and then treat the freezer like your personal grocery store and incorporate freezer meals into your meal planning each week. There are many freezer ready recipes available, and very convenient to pop a hearty frozen pie into the oven on a gloomy weekday evening.
Colleen shared that she keeps a jar in her freezer to collect food scraps suitable for making stock. “I have one jar with scraps from carrots, onions, celery and another jar with bones. When both are full I make a large pot of stock using my Wonderbag, to save electricity. I then store this in varied sized jars in the fridge and freezer ready to add to food. No need for stock cubes or readymade stock!”
Read the label
What do food expiry dates really mean? Best Before is not the same as the Expiry Date, and food that is past its Best Before date is actually perfectly edible. If you’re really squeamish about this date, and won’t have time to cook the item before it’s time is supposedly up then freeze it until you’re ready to use it.
Give it away
If you’re facing a fridge full of food that is about to go to waste then rather than bin it, give it away. Ask your neighbours if they want a bag of veggies, give your cleaner a packet of groceries, offer a box of leftovers to the security guard. There are a number of charities that would gladly accept a box of ingredients, so Google your nearest charitable organisation and ask when you can drop your excess items. There is also an app that “connects neighbours with each other and with local businesses so surplus food can be shared, not thrown away” – visit OLIO and see it this method would work for you.
British chef Jamie Oliver is currently campaigning to reduce food waste, from farm to fork, and his efforts have seen a number of new ingredients added to UK chef’s shopping lists, such as pullet eggs and ‘wonky’ vegetables. Check out his new book Save with Jamie for food waste reducing recipes and watch this video below..
Do you have other ways that you reduce food waste? Please let us know what they are by commenting below or emailing us!