Food waste is something that can really contribute to your overall household waste, especially if a compost bin or food waste collection service isn’t available to you. As someone who hates food waste, but is also exceptionally picky about the ripeness of the fruit and veg I eat, here are some recipes and tips to try and minimise food waste in your kitchen.
Vegetable pasta sauce
I usually use this if I have roughly half of a vegetable left and it’s looking a bit gross to just cook by itself. You can use any variation of left over/ old vegetables to make this sauce, but some of the better combinations include the use of
- Sweet potato
Cut your veg into 2cm chunks, and add to a pan on mid-heat with 1 sliced onion and 3 cloves of garlic. Leave until the veg starts to brown, then bring down to a low heat and cover for about 30 minutes. Add either ½ cup of water halfway through or ½ cup tomato passata. Season with salt and pepper, and add dried herbs if desired.
Bring off heat once all veg is soft. Let cool. Add to a blender and blitz until smooth. When adding to pasta, fully cook the pasta and drain, but leave a tiny bit of pasta water in the pot. Add the sauce, and mix until hot all the way through.
Food scrap stock
Good if you don’t have a compost bin!
Keep your veg scraps (stalks, outer leaves, peelings, etc.) and place in the freezer until you have around 2 to 3 handfuls of scraps. Add to a large pot with 5 1.5-2.5 litres, and bring to boil. Season with salt and pepper, then simmer for a minimum of 1 hour.
Bring off heat and let cool. Get a large bowl or tub and a colander, pour contents of pot into the colander. Dispose of veg scraps in whatever way you see fit, and use the stock as soup or casserole bases – or can be frozen in ice cube trays to use as a flavour enhancer for pasta sauces, or when vegetable stock cubes are usually required.
Easy banana bread
Great if you have really ripe bananas.
- 1-2 bananas
- 1 cup flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tbsp milk
- Pinch of salt
Mash bananas all together in a bowl. Add milk, then flour and stir. Add salt and baking soda and stir to combine. Place in a bread tray and cook at 180 degrees for about 35 minutes. Can add sugar or chocolate chips to make it more of a cake.
- 1 can of chickpeas, drained (keep the aquafaba)
- Tahini (if you have it, not necessary)
- Olive oil
In a heavy duty blender, blend your chickpeas and about ¼ cup of oil together until it becomes a smooth consistency. If you add tahini, add one tablespoon to the mix – if not, add a bit more oil. Season with salt, pepper, and paprika. Can also add lemon juice to taste.
If you want to try your hand at flavoured hummus, you can also add cooked peas to your mixture, sun dried tomatoes, or soaked beetroot (as an example).
- Aquafaba from one can of chickpeas
- ½ cup cocoa
- ⅓ cup icing sugar
- ¾ cup flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
Mix all dry ingredients into the aquafaba. If it is a dry consistency, add a splash of milk.
Pour into a bread tin, and cook at 200 degrees for 25 minutes.
Other tips to help limit food waste:
When doing a food shop, try to buy things that are packaged in paper, tin or glass. This can be recycled way better than plastic food packaging (which usually has to go in general waste), and your glass jars and such can be reused for future food leftovers.
Meal plan each week. Nothing over the top, nor must it be stuck to religiously either, but if you have a general idea of the kind of food you want throughout the week before you shop, then you will only buy what’s necessary. This also means you will likely buy exactly what you need for you (or your households) serving size, and that things aren’t going to be left in the fridge or fruit bowl to be forgotten about and then later thrown away.
Bulk buy (if able to) dry ingredients such as pastas, rice, and canned goods. Nothing extreme – if you’re a one person household, you will know how much food you go through on a monthly basis – but bulk buying reduces waste, usually reduces cost, and makes it easier when meal prepping because you will usually know you have those products in your cupboard to cook with.
Refill, don’t replace. One major aspect of food waste is also throwing away the packaging it comes in. If you have a salt shaker already, buy a box of salt to refill it with. Same with dried herbs and some sauces.
Make your own versions of things. One reason I added the bread and hummus recipes is because you use all the product from the chickpeas, and also you won’t be buying heaps of plastic tubs of hummus. Nut butters are also exceptionally easy to make yourself at home, and usually cheaper than buying new jars when you run out too.
Store your vegetables correctly. Keep all of your produce dry, separate fruit and veg (this stops it ripening too quick), and know which parts of your fridge are warmer and colder. I personally find that keeping your veg in the middle fridge is better than in the vegetable drawers – you can see more clearly what there is left to eat; condensation doesn’t sit on the bottom of the tray, and if you stack the vegetables alongside jars or plastic tubs this will stop them getting bruised in the fridge. Ground vegetables also fare quite well in room temperatures – a wooden basket on your bench top, for example. Tomatoes, berries, and herbs can also be kept out of the fridge if you eat them frequently.
Don’t be afraid to experiment! Try soups (most winter soups can be made from any variety of vegetables), and if you’re not a fan of hot soup, we are getting into the months where you could try a nice gazpacho instead. Make and buy food you know you enjoy – just because something is on special offer doesn’t mean you will necessarily eat it. Research recipes for things you can make swaps with if you have the time or patience to try your hand at baking. And invest in a good set of tubs – these can be mismatched ones you’ve collected over the years, or some sturdy ones you know you will put to good use. You can also look at how to use all parts of a vegetable, for example, giving a potato a good scrub could mean you leave the skin on, and stir-fried broccoli stem is as good as the broccoli head itself.
Not all these changes have to be made at once, either. If reducing your food waste is something you’re interested in trying, then take it a week at a time and see how well you get on.
For more content like this click here.