Minimise food waste when cooking

Your Simple Gesture: Increase your awareness of food waste when cooking through planning, preparing and organising
Did you know that a staggering ⅓ of the world’s food is wasted?! More the 1 billion tonnes of food waste globally every year, to be exact.

This very unsustainable truth has resulted from kinks in our food production systems, a lack of education around food waste and the need for clearer information on the very simple ways we can avoid it. With a little bit of prep, we can more intentionally shop and cook our meals and cut food waste in our home altogether! This gesture is one that requires planning and reflection, as food waste often stems from things like neglected leftovers in the fridge, mouldy vegetables you forgot were in there, double purchasing an item when you already have it in the pantry and the list goes on! A key step to reducing food waste when cooking is having a plan for all the bits that we traditionally don’t cook with, and some tricks at the ready for how to use almost every bit of the food item.

Action Steps:

1. A key part of this process will be minimising how much you send to landfill by finding alternative ways to reusing veg scraps. Start by taking a photo of the inside of your general waste kerbside bin to see how full it is when you start, and track this week on week for the first 8 weeks. These photos will be a great record of your progress.

2. Next, get everything out of your pantry and fridge. Organise your food items into jars, containers or whatever system works for you so you can SEE and identify everything in there. Order things by category eg. canned foods, baking ingredients, pasta, rice (this is so when you are getting ready to make your weekly shopping list you can quickly see what you have and what you need).

3. Write a detailed shopping list before you go to the supermarket. Ensure to check what you already have and avoid doubling up. Less is more in this situation! If you need extra you can always go back to the store, but if you buy too much you run the risk of creating waste.

Quick tips and tricks for avoiding food waste:

A helpful insight to assist this process is the difference between the terms ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ which often appears on packaged goods.

Use by: The food must be consumed before the date on the packet. You might see this label on things like meat and dairy.
Best before: The quality of the food starts to deteriorate from its peak from the best before date, so in most cases is still edible after the date on the packet.

Freezing, upcycling and cross-cooking to reduce your food waste:

Freezing – Put liquids like pasta sauce in ice cube containers, freeze them and store them in a container to avoid throwing excess sauce away. You can do the same with berries or fruits like mango and banana and use them in smoothies or ice blocks.
Upcycling – Use the whole vegetable. When cooking things like broccoli, beans and herbs, chop up the stems and include them in your meal. It tastes the same and can bring some character and texture to your meal.
Cross-cooking – Plan your meals accordingly and use one type of vegetable in more than one meal if it means you avoid waste. A good example of this is herbs or leafy greens. Say you are cooking italian one week and will be buying a lot of basil or a bg bunch of kale. You can plan another meal which calls for these same ingredients and plan to make it a few days later (pasta and pizza, for example!). This means you don’t end up with excess vegetables going bad in the crisper!

Check out some extra resources for avoiding food waste in the kitchen:

More Simple Gestures…

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