We are a wasteful nation - most Western countries are, purely because generally, we can afford to throw things away. Food waste contributes to so many problems within our planet - socially, economically and environmentally.
When so much land is used for agriculture that contributes to major carbon emissions, (read here about why going vegan - or even adopting some vegan habits - are great for the planet), it’s kind of a kick in the teeth to the planet to throw that food away.
Issues of packaging, food waste and sustainable food chains (employment and transportation as a start) are complicated. Every time we make the most of the food in our fridge and cupboards, we help make those issues a little easier to manage.
How is Food Wasted?
Supermarkets have high standards, and that’s great when it comes to ensuring your food isn’t mouldy, but sometimes those standards mean beautifully fresh but slightly misshapen food isn’t good enough.
If a vegetable is misshapen, marked, discoloured or a little bit ‘odd’ in size, then it’s thrown away at the source. This means that 20 - 40% of all produce grown is discarded. Thanks to companies like Oddbox, these rejects have a place to go.
Some supermarkets are adopting the oddly shaped veg but only in large quantities - we need odd loose veg!
Due to long distances from soil to consumer, some food goes off during transport. By sourcing your produce locally, food is less likely to go off and you also reduce the carbon emissions for your meal.
Ahh, best before dates. Best Before dates are seen as ‘after this date, you can’t eat it’. But it is the BEST before - meaning you can still eat, so don’t throw it away!
What Can We Do?
There are lots of ways to manage our contributions to food waste; we’ve got a few of our favourite ideas below, along with some fantastic recipes.
Don’t Over Buy
Only buy what you need. It really is that simple, and it does take a little time. Plan your meals and snacks for the week in advance and look at precisely what you need. Buy lose veg, so you only buy what you need.
While you don’t need to keep a spreadsheet of what’s in your cupboards, make sure you do a sweep before the weekly shop to remind yourself of what you already have.
Check the Use-By Dates When You Buy
When you go into a supermarket or shop, check the use-by dates as you put items in your trolley. Most supermarkets put the freshest produce with the longest sell-by dates at the back of the fridge/shelf. This way, you ensure you’ll get longevity out of your purchase.
Back to that meal plan! Don’t forget to include leftovers in your meal plans, from food scraps to making lunch out of dinner. Make the most of everything you make.
In the battle against food waste, your freezer is your best friend. It helps you with batch cooking, not only making those busy evenings easier, batch cooking is a great way to use large quantities of produce by cooking in large quantities.
Frozen fruit and veg is also a great way to eat seasonally and only as you need them. Most frozen produce is picked in season, meaning that it’s grown more sustainably, and it’s ripest, meaning you’re getting the best possible vitamins and nutrients.
Here are some of our favourite recipes with either scraps or that use every part of your produce!
Pesto Potato Peel Crisps
A great way to use up potato peelings!
You will need:
Potato Peelings (Scrubbed)
Pesto (homemade or out of a jar)
Before you peel your potatoes, give them a thorough wash and a scrub to remove any dirt under warm water.
Peel your potatoes and do what you need to with your spuds.
Take your potato peelings and lay them on a baking tray.
Coat the peelings in a good dose of olive oil and pesto.
Pop in the oven at 180 for 20 minutes.
Chickpea & Vegetable Curry with Rice
We love this recipe from lovefoodhatewaste.com - curries are a fantastic way to use vegetables in your fridge or cupboards. If you don’t have any of the vegs below, courgettes, leeks or whatever you have are great substitutions. You can easily swap the sauce for spices (tumeric, garam masala and ground cumin are a great comb0) and add a tin of coconut milk and chopped tomatoes.
You will need:
1 Tin of Chickpeas
1 Cup of Broccoli Florets (frozen or fresh)
1 Onion (diced)
1 or 2 Carrots (peeled and cut into even-sized chunks)
1 500g Jar of Curry Sauce
2 Peppers (Sliced)
200g of Long-Grain White Rice
Chilli Powder to Taste.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large pan on a medium heat.
Fry the spices for 1 minute.
Add the onion and gently fry for a few minutes until they become translucent.
Add the peppers and carrots and cook for a few minutes before adding the chickpeas. Add the curry sauce if using.
Stir to combine well and bring the sauce to a boil before covering and simmering for 15 minutes until cooked through.
Whilst the curry is cooking, rinse the rice and cook according to the packet instructions. Keep warm until serving.
Place the broccoli in a small pot on the hob and pour over just-boiled kettle water. Bring up to the boil and then immediately drain.
Add this to the curry just before serving, or you can serve on the side if you have fussy eaters!
Banana, Apple and Peanut Mug Crumble
We’ve all become pros at banana bread, but if you’re looking for a new way to use overripe bananas, this recipe from Mug Crumbles by Christelle Huet-Gomez is an absolute winner.
You will need:
For the fruit:
1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 tbsp caster sugar
½ banana, sliced into rounds
1 heaped tbsp peanut butter
For the crumble:
15g butter (1 slice 5mm thick)
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
2 heaped tbsp peanut butter
2 heaped tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp chopped, roasted and salted peanuts
.In a mug, mix the cook the apple with the sugar and cover the mug with cling film pierced several times.
Cook in the microwave for 1 minute at 800 watts or 50 seconds at 1000 watts.
Pour off any excess liquid. Add the banana and the peanut butter and stir.
In a bowl, mix the butter, soft brown sugar, peanut butter, flour and peanuts with your fingertips to form a dough.
Crumble it into the mug and cook in the microwave for 1 minute at 800 watts or 50 seconds at 1000 watts.
Let it cool a little before eating.
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