If food waste were a country, it would have one of the highest carbon footprints in the world. Although it seems daunting, we can all do a small part to have a big impact to reduce food waste, many ways of which we can really enjoy too. The aim is to prevent as much as possible heading to the compost bin, so here are some tips to reduce food waste at home.
Embrace broccoli stems and cauliflower leaves. Stems delicious in stir fries and soups, and a great way to eat up a part of the broccoli commonly discarded. Cauliflower leaves are delicious in cauliflower cheese.
Freeze loaves of bread whole. You can take slices of frozen bread and toast directly when you're ready to eat them. Bread is one of the most highly wasted food items, so save it from going mouldy or stale by freezing and using when you need it. This is also fantastic if you find bougie bread reduced in the supermarket.
Love brown bananas. There are so many ways to use brown bananas, but my absolute favourite is freezing and blitzing in smoothies. They are super sweet and delicious when brown so don't waste them!
Freeze tomato paste. It can be tricky to get through a whole tube/ jar of tomato paste. But it's easy to utilise the jar when you freeze it in portions. The best way to do this, is to freeze little chunks of tomato paste in ice cube trays. Once fully frozen, empty them into a jar in the freezer for easy to access nuggets of tomato that defrost quickly in dishes as you cook them. Beware, that tomato paste can stain your ice cube tray, so I tend to use one in particular for food based freezing and one for drinking ice.
Freeze your pesto too. I am a big fan of homemade pesto, but sometimes I dont have time and resort to store bought. I rarely get through a whole jar before it would go past it, so I also freeze in ice cube trays too. Once frozen I pop out into jars so that the Cubes are super easy to access and chuck into hot vegetable pasta.
Dry herbs. If you're lucky enough to grow your own or have bought some the shop that you won't use fresh, hang them upside down in a cool airy spot to dry. Simples. You can also make herby potions with oil, and freeze similarly to above.
Make stock with scraps. This is one of my ultimate food waste hacks. Before shopping day, I'll cook up a stock with all the scraps from the fridge, like carrots/ celery. You can make a number of things with stock including soup (my favourite) but also risottos/ stews etc. You can also make a hearty stock from meat based sources, like chicken carcasses.
Check your local area to see if you have access to a community fridge. Community fridges are epic little spots that you can get bargain (or free) food that’s past it’s best before date but not past it’s use by.
Airfry potato peelings, to make a speedy, delicious snack. I am a sucker for crisps and do rarely peel our spuds, but if you're making a dish the requires a peeled potato, save the peelings, rub with a little oil and air fry until delicious.
Rework wraps, like tortilla wraps or naan, by cutting into triangles, rubbing with oil and herbs, and air fry or oven bake until crispy.
A broader tip, but useful for reducing waste and also reducing cost, is to plan your meals for the week or more. Clean out your fridge before you head out to the shops, have fridge clean dinners or lunch. Work out what you have, what you need and plan from there. It also helps with the daily struggle over what to have for dinner.
Similarly do a freezer inventory- know what you have in your freezer and 'stock' rotate what you have. Use things up, before restocking.
Store berries in water in your fridge, if they're submerged they will last much longer.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to being a food waste warrior. If you're keen to keep reducing your waste, finding innovative ways to save food or even repurpose food, there are endless amazing ways! Some fun accounts on Instagram to follow are @zerowastechef or @lfhw_uk.
And after all the wacky ways you find to embrace food- don't forget to compost everything left.