I used to waste. A lot. Whenever an expiry or best before date was approaching, it went straight to the bin. The biggest reason for this waste was simply because we bought too much! Since we’ve got that habit under control (read how I managed to do that in the article In for a penny, in for a pound) I realised how much I hated wasting good food. I thought I’d share with you my top ten ways to minimise food waste every week.
The best way to minimise waste is to plan your weekly meals. Plan for dishes that complement each other by using some of the same ingredients in different ways. For example I might make a delicious salad one evening with (amongst others) celery, carrots and onion, a classic chilli con carne the next evening that uses all three ingredients in the sofrito and a risotto the night after that using up the celery and onion as a sofrito again.
**Sofrito is a mix of lightly fried vegetables that is used as a base for different dishes.**
I love Costco’s succulent chicken breasts and great lamb cutlets. They are great for pretty much all of their meat cuts, however, there is no way we can consume 2kg of chicken breasts before they start to go off. Therefore, I buy (also from Costco) freezing bags that will allow me to portion out the meat and put it in the freezer for future use. Just make sure you put the contents and date of purchase on the front so you can use up the oldest first.
As a full time teacher I’m lucky enough to have 13 weeks’ holiday a year. (I do work during those weeks, but that is a story for a different day!) This means that during this time I cook a few freezer-friendly dishes that can be reheated from frozen on those days that I have a heavy week or late nights. Lasagnas, cottage pies and shepherds pies are great no-fuss, midweek one-pot dishes.
Have you ever had half a loaf of bread left over or that last quarter of cheese or half a watermelon and you know hand on heart that you won’t be able to use it before it’s starting to harbour new life. Freeze it! Slices of bread can be frozen to pop into the toaster at a later stage. Cheese can be grated and frozen for some divine cheese toasties or glorious mac and cheese later on. Watermelon and other fruit can be frozen to be blitzed into sorbet’s and smoothies later on.
Bananas are at its very best for making banana bread when they are black and soft. I often buy some extra fruit to make some baked treats like breads, cupcakes and muffins. All can be successfully frozen and enjoyed at a later stage. Frozen muffins are especially great if you pop them in the oven to reheat and enjoyed with a cup of coffee for breakfast.
Lots of recipes call for stock and although it is very easy to use a stock cube it is rarely as nice as using a homemade stock from scratch. It is so easy to make as well. When you roast a chicken use the bones to make a lovely chicken stock or collect the peelings from your veggies during the week, freeze and when you have enough make a great veggie stock to use in soups, stews and risotto. Stock can be frozen in ice cubes for easy use in dishes like Chilli Con Carne or in greater quantities if you want to use it for soup.
Talking about soup: My soup gets a new twist every time I make it. This is because I use up the veggies that is about to past their best before. Make it different every time by adding barley, split peas or pasta to create a very filling lunch or dinner.
I love leftovers! It can be so versatile. You can make sandwiches, salads, soups or croquettes the next day or it can be frozen to make a meal on a busy night.
There are few things more delicious than sweet, sticky marmalade on thickly sliced, fresh, crusty white bread. The thing that will make it even more delicious? Homemade marmalade! Use up your fruit and veg by taking the time to preserve it. Not only does it help to reduce waste, it also makes great personal gifts.
I adore cooking great food from scratch, but this also means that I like to use fresh herbs in my cooking. Not only can you save a fortune by growing your own herbs and vegetables, you can reduce a huge amount of waste as you only use what you need. Plus, once the season is nearing the end you can freeze the herbs by placing them in ice cubes with some olive oil ready to put some flavour into your future dishes.
I recently came across a lovely blog by The Snail of Happiness about how she grows an abundance of homegrown fruits and veggies in a small space. I, myself, grow quite a bit and I can assure you, you don’t need a large plot of land to grow your own successfully.
You can always make some awesome homemade mojitos with your overgrown mint bush!
I hope that this list helps you as much as it helps me on a weekly basis. Let me know some of your waste-reducing tips as I would like to try them!