This year I’ve been trying to make a concentrated effort to waste less, use more and be more environmentally friendly within our household. The kitchen can be one of the biggest areas of waste. Did you know that the average NZ family wastes around $500 worth of food each year?! Pretty shocking right? Here’s a few tips I’ve picked up along the way.
1. Plan Your Meals
This has most definitely been a game changer for me! It has not only inspired me to cook more and be organised, but also waste less! There are a bunch of ways to meal plan. Some people write a plan and then shop accordingly, others shop the specials and then plan accordingly. I’m the latter. I take a bit of a stock take in the pantry, fridge and freezer and then organise my meals for the week. Here’s more about meal planning.
2. Clean Out Your Fridge Weekly
I’m sure most of us have been digging around in the fridge one time or another and found a dodgy, limp, slimy, piece of produce hiding somewhere in the fruit and veggie drawer. Right? I like to have a good clean out of my fridge once a week, usually on a Sunday, then I can use that produce before it goes bad. If you don’t want to/can’t eat the food immediately, why not use it in a different form? See the next tip!
3. Use Up the Dodgy Produce
Here’s a few things I do to use up produce before it gets bad.
brown bananas: Put them in the freezer! They’re perfect for cakes, muffins are smoothies.
yellowing broccoli: Cut it all up (including the stalk), put it in a bowl of hot water for 5 minutes (to blanch it), and freeze in a snap lock bag. Put it in soups, stews, stir fries and more.
limp spinach: Freeze it baby!
soft spuds: Grate them and make a soup.
icky apples: Cut ’em, blanch ’em, freeze ’em, use ’em. Can be used for muffins, crumbles and whatever else your heart desires.
garlic: Make confit garlic! Delicious!
4. Don’t Buy So Much!
Why buy a whole bag of apples each week when you’re only going to use three? Why buy a whole pumpkin when you’re only wanting half? It may be more economical to buy a whole pumpkin, but if you only use half and let the other half go bad, what’s the point? Also, most people don’t live far away from a supermarket so you can always go get more.
5. Reinvent Leftovers
Leftovers can be both a blessing and a curse. Great when they’re something exciting and fun, not so great when you end up eating the same thing three nights in a row. The wonderful Kate Meads (The Nappy Lady) said that she’ll cook casserole one night, add a few more veggies in to it the second night, and then on the third night put the leftovers in to a pie. Genius right?
6. Grow Your Own Food
Growing veggies is a great way to learn the value of food and really appreciate every lettuce leaf. Veggies aren’t particularly hard to grow, they just need the right soil and some watering. Why not give it a go?
7. Learn How to Store Things Correctly
This is a biggie! You can make your food last so much longer by learning how to store it right. I’ve just started storing spinach the right way and have been amazed at the huge difference it makes.
potatoes and onions: Not together! Their gasses will get to each other. They both like cool, dry and dark, like a hessian sack at the bottom of your pantry!
fruit: Most fruits (except bananas) like the fridge best. Bananas are sneaky and ripen other fruits with their ethylene gas so keep them away from your other fruit!
spinach and lettuce: Keep it in an airtight container with a paper towel at the bottom. It will stay fresher for longer.
If you find your product isn’t lasting, do a quick Google search and see if you’re storing them right.
8. Re-evaluate Your Kitchen Products and Ways
There’s also a lot of wastage that goes on in the kitchen that isn’t food related. I knitted few cotton dish clothes and now use them as opposed to cheaper throwaway ones. I’ve quit using plastic grocery bags and use these calico bags from Cotton On. I recycle and reuse as much as I can and I compost any UNUSABLE scraps (peels, skins, egg shells, etc). Beeswax wraps are also are great way of keeping food fresh without smothering it in nasty plastic wrap. Take a look in your kitchen and see what you can change to make a difference!
I hope this was insightful and gave you a few good tips to try this week! Let me know how you get on!