16th May 2019
Since December 2016, I have produced no landfill waste. I document my journey on the blog, A Zero Waste Life. The term zero waste, for me, simply means living without the need for a bin. I refuse, reduce, repurpose, recycle and regenerate any waste I come into contact with.
These are the top 9 things I do to reduce food waste, split into 3 categories- buying, preparing and preserving foods.
Buying dry foods in bulk
This means I always have meals I can rustle up, with minim preparation time.
I buy my dry ingredients from The Clean Kilo in Birmingham. Filling jars and boxes with dry ingredients means I can easily see what food I have in, which helps me to plan meals accordingly. Plus, they look super pretty, so that’s a big win in my eyes!
Buying fresh produce more often, in smaller quantities
I pick up fresh foods multiple times throughout the week, at places which are convenient for me. I don’t own a car, so buying small quantities of fresh produce works well for me, and it means I always know what is in my fridge, as I hoard food less than I used to.
Pick foods which you can eat EVERYTHING from it
If you eat meats, opt for cuts with minimal waste which you cannot use, or use parts like the caucus to make a bone broth. Vegetables like broccoli often have the stems thrown away, but I always ensure I use the whole thing in my meals- after all, I paid for it! Broccoli stalk ‘chips’ are one of my all-time favourite snacks.
Cook in bigger batches
I know, I know- this one isn’t really a tip, its more common sense. When you cook in bigger batches you can save money by buying larger quantities of food for a cheaper price and reduce food waste which you might make when making smaller meals more frequently.
Bonus! When you cook in batches, you also save time in the future from cooking and washing up… which is a godsend on a busy weeknight.
Rethink what you compost
If you’re cooking with root veg like a pumpkin, you can save the seeds and season and roast them for a garnish or snack. Vegetable peelings can be added to soups or baked in oil to make veggie crisps. I even make my own vegetable stock by saving vegetable peelings and boiling them up with water. If I don’t have enough scraps from one meal, I keep them in my freezer until I have about a box full of scraps.
Regrow from scraps
Carrots, spring onions and lettuce can regrow themselves! Honestly, it’s like magic! Trim the vegetables so there is about an inch left near their root end. Place them into a cup of water on a sunny windowsill and change the water every three days or so. Within a week, they will begin to grow again. When roots are growing, you can plan the veg in the garden, if you want to.
Any vegetable scraps left over can be composted or if you’re time short, compost earlier.
If you batch cook, freeze your meals in portioned sizes to use when you don’t want to cook. I also freeze fruits and veg which I know I can’t eat before they will go off. Things like peas, peppers and sweetcorn are great for this. Some foods freeze better when they have been blanched beforehand.
Little freezer space? Look at traditional food preservation practices
Drying, pickling, salting and canning are all ways to make your food last longer. Who knows, you may have a hidden talent for one of these!
Share it around
Okay, so not really a step to preserve foods- but still a super important point for zero food waste! If you have too much of something- pass it on! I either give spare foods to friends or family members, or I post them on apps like Olio, which is a food sharing app.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the different ways to save food waste, just focus on one area- buying, preparing or preserving foods. Pick one which is manageable for your time and budget- that’s how I started off. Soon enough I was addicted to the zero waste lifestyle as I was saving myself money, eating healthier and I was doing my bit for the planet.
Do you guys have any additional tips to help others cut down their food waste?