9 Common Food Waste Hacks
We have abundance of food and drink options, however as a result of either buying more than what we actually use or need with the added time limitation of our daily lives, this often increases our food waste.
There was recently a poll on the most commonly wasted ingredients which are as follows below:
- Veg peel
- Cooked leftovers
- Fresh vegetables
- Fresh fruit
Top Tips for the commonly thrown away ingredients:
The most popular item to be thrown away, this can be a result of not having the right temperature for the salad to be stored in the fridge. Another factor can be around the time it takes to use up the item. One thing I have personally found, is we all want to be more healthy and associate salad as a healthier option, but salads can sometimes seem boring and unappetising, hence why it’s often the last food item to be used up in the fridge.
Did you know, that if you take out your salad, place it into a bowl, place a couple sheets of kitchen roll on top of the salad then cling-film the bowl and place into the fridge, you will be able to extend the shelf life of the salad by up to 8 days. It keeps the moisture out of the salad leaves and prevents them from spoiling.
If you have lettuce you can make Korean Kimchi - I love Kimchi! It’s great for your digestion and provides you with probiotics to support good gut health. I have created a simple vegan Kimchi recipe which can be used for fermenting lettuce, cabbage, cucumber and other vegetables. See below:
Don’t think of salad as just salad, think of it as leafy greens that can be used in soup and stir-fry. One of my favourite ways to use up vegetables is to make Bibimbap, which means “mixed- rice” in Korean. It’s a healthier version of a local Chinese egg fried rice.
Don’t throw away vegetable peels, think homemade stock! Instead of buying stock cube which tends to be higher in the salt content, you can use the peels and a couple of vegetables to make delicious stock which can then be stored in the freezer bags, or ice-cube trays for when you are ready to use.
One way I experimented, is making the vegetable stock from the peels in the pressure cooking and funny enough it reduced my time by 3-4 hours. I have put my recipe for this stock below.
Another way to reuse the vegetable peel is by adding it to your compost to add richness to your soil.
I used to buy my food shopping based on the leftovers I was going to make but as my schedule has become busier and I teach cooking sessions for my business, by the time I get home, the last thing I want to do is cook, unless it’s super quick.
Think, “readymade meals meets leftovers”!
A couple things to remember when doing this method:
1. Containers are your best friend - they will save you time in the kitchen and help you reduce your food waste. My favourites are the IKEA 365+ Range because you can use them in the oven and are perfect for eating on the go once you add their lids
2. Have up to 5 different sauces beforehand, ready to be used with your meal.
3. Think of ingredients in 3 simple steps; protein, either from plant source such as tofu, beans and pulses, or animal sources lean meats and fish. Think of the rainbow when it comes to vegetables and lastly carbs, this one can be in the form of noodles, rice, pasta, grains and potatoes.
4. When prepping your meal, place the items into 3rds ensuring to place the vegetables first followed by carbs and protein. This is a simple way of reducing your meat consumption and increasing your vegetables.
It’s essential to remember that leftovers are another meal and by adding a couple of ingredients, you can create something new. Take chicken for example, with the flesh of the chicken, this can be added to soups, wraps, stir-fry and my new Spanish favourite -croquettes.
When buying bread, always reach for the last item at the back of the shelf, in fact, remember old at the front and new at the back. Once you have your bread ask yourself these 2 questions
1. How many times a week do you eat bread?
2. Will I be likely to finish the bread within 10 days of my purchase?
If not, you can divide your bread into 3. One for premade sandwiches, toast and French toast, the other for garlic and herb crotons and the other slices for breadcrumbs.
If you want, you can freeze half of your bread and use that for next month.
Saving you money and food waste.
Think vegetable freezer bags. a few years ago, I used to love Birdseye’s vegetable freezer bag until I started making my own. I use IKEA freezer bags which are better, not only for us at home but also the environment as it doesn’t contain any harmful plastics and are also biodegradable.
I have 3 simple recipes for garlic and herb vegetables, citrus garlic butter vegetables and lemongrass, chilli and Thai basil vegetables. The best thing about making your own vegetable bag is you can customise them to your own taste, why not add some prawns and rice to make a complete meal. Plus, you cook them by boiling them in water, baking them in the oven or microwaving the bags.
Cream and Milk:
These two items get thrown away quite often. Did you know if you leave milk out of the fridge for up to 1 hour, it loses 1 day of its shelf life? As milk has a short shelf-life, only buy small quantities when necessary. Another way of saving on food waste for these 2 products is to make ice cubes of both. If you want to make coffee or tea and you need milk just off open a cube or few for your drink, they can be used for soups, sauces and porridge.
Same as the freezer bag but this time for fruits and the combinations are endless!
You can divide the bags into 4 sections:
1. Smoothies – fruit and vegetables smoothies with different combinations
2. Ice creams, ‘nice-cream’ (banana ice cream) and sorbet – see recipe below
3. Jams and purees - great way to have everything prepped and ready to make jams and purees that can add to breakfast, ice-teas or dessert.
4. Fresh fruit snacks- ensure to have meal plan of what you will be eating on a couple of days and if not eating turn it into the 3 above.
I love herbs, they are a great way of adding flavour without the need to add more salt.
As herbs are often thrown away due to the way they are stored, here are 3 simple tips to extend their shelf life.
1. For fresh herbs treat them like flowers, get a tall glass half way, fill it with water then cover with plastic and rubber-band and keep in the fridge.
2. For oily herbs like thyme, leave them to hang out in the open on a string, this will give them more air and not reduce them going moldy in the fridge.
3. My favourite, ice cube trays again, for this there are 2 methods: chop up the herbs and place them into the trays and fill one side with water and the other with oil. This way, you have 2 different flavours for your herbs and they can be used in soups, sauce and main meals - the list is endless!
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