A staggering amount of food is wasted each year. Food that could be eaten or used, instead ends up in landfill sites all across the world. There needs to be a collective effort to reduce this food wastage, if not for the environment, for our own pockets. These simple hacks can help you start your no-waste journey or add to what you already do!
How to use potato peelings
Whether it’s peeling potatoes to make mash or some roasties, there are plenty of ways to use up these peelings that would otherwise end up in the bin. My favourite tip is to use your leftover potato peels to make some crisps. This is so simple, I saw this tip on Instagram a while ago and couldn’t believe I had never done it before. All you need to do is stick your peelings on a baking tray with a drizzle of olive oil and seasoning, and wait till they are crisp.
How to use old bread
First and foremost, to prolong the shelf life of my bread I generally store it in the freezer and take it out when needed. If you are someone that eats a sandwich on the regular then this might not be needed but as someone that likes bread but doesn’t always eat it in time this works great for me. If you don’t freeze it, store your bread in a cool and dry place and make sure it is always properly recovered after use. What if you haven’t done this and your bread has started to go stale? Do you just throw it away? Absolutely not! I have seen a lot of tricks for stale bread, whether that’s just dribbling a bit of water on and heating it to freshen it up, making a bread and butter pudding or making breadcrumbs. They are all great. Is it bad to eat this stale bread though? Has it gone ‘bad’? For bread I never really pay attention to the date on the packet, I simple go by my senses and ask myself these questions- does is smell okay and does it look okay? If yes then I eat. I often see people give leftover bread to the birds and ducks but this isn’t really good for them. They can eat it but it isn’t good for them, and mouldy bread is very bad for them. So, try and keep bread for humans and use it all up before the mould appears.
How to use all or almost all of a vegetable
It quite often occurs that when chopping our veg, half of the veg goes in the bin. I have been guilty of this many times, chopping ends off of veg deeming them bad bits. We all do it don’t we. So, what can we do to stop wasting all this veg. There are many fancy ways to use up otherwise wasted food, but often this can be time consuming. Here are some simple ways to use up your veg.
- Leeks- A great tip is to finely chop the odds and ends of a leek and bake until crisp. These make great toppers for any meals really, a nice egg brunch, a warming soup or can be even be used to spice up a salad.
- Cauliflower- Slice the stalk, which often gets tossed, and make cauliflower steaks. Alternatively, you can great them to make cauliflower rice.
- Any veg leftovers- can be added to water, garlic and herbs and left to simmer for an hour to create a wholesome stock.
- Celery- Add celery leaves to soups.
With fruit, the problem is less about throwing most of it away, and more about eating it before it goes off. So how can we stop this? Well for one do not buy stuff that we aren’t going to eat in the first place. If this does happen though, we can make things still when fruit is past its prime. This is not to say you should eat fruit with mould growing from it, but rather using blackened bananas and other fruits that maybe bruised or not look too appetising anymore. Here are ways you can use up such fruits:
- Banana bread- there are so many recipes online to make this lockdown staple.
- Banana brownies- Yummy brownies using banana, coco powder, peanut butter. The recipe for which can be found here https://www.instagram.com/p/CIq8ow4jGEK/
- Smoothies- you can add any fruit to a smoothie and its great!
- Banana pancakes- so easy mash a banana and add two beaten eggs and you have yourself a pancake mixture.
- Fruit pie- there are so many pie recipes: apple, blackberry the list goes on.
- Crumbles- apple, blackberry they are all delicious.
- You can even buy frozen and defrost when you need it!
When most people buy fruit and veg, they often store it together. Fruit in a fruit bowl and veg altogether too, but is this what is best to prolong the shelf-life of a product? Here are some top tips I have found help keep fruit and veg tasty and stop it from spoiling:
- Celery in tinfoil
- Store veg in the bottom of the fridge
- Keeping bananas as a bunch will keep them from spoiling faster
- Rinse berries with vinegar
- Store apples with potatoes as this will prevent the potatoes from sprouting
- Apples should be kept away from other fruits
- Put fresh herbs in water like a flower or freeze them with olive oil
- Keep mushrooms in a brown paper bag to soak up excess moisture
- Tomatoes at room temp for taste and melons at room temp until cut
- Remove products with mould ASAP
- If greens are looking a bit wilted add them to ice cold water
Most people know that throwing old veg, peelings and other food produce in a compost bin is better than throwing it in the bin, but not a lot of people do it. There are various reasons for this. You might not know how to go about doing this, or even have the motivation to compost. So, how can we compost? Well there are a few ways we can go about composting. The easiest way would be to apply for a food waste bin from your council. This small bin can be filled with any food produce and then will be collected with yours bins and the council will compost it themselves. This isn’t available from all councils, but if you’re council don’t offer the food waste bin then you can create your own compost bin. This requires more effort on your part but you get to use the compost to help your garden.
How to create your own compost bin:
- Start by purchasing a large compost bin.
- Place the bin in a sunny spot of your garden and make sure the ground is level so water can drain out, and creatures can get in.
- Purchase a small compost bin and keep it in your kitchen.
- Overtime add vegetable peelings, fruit, teabags and add to your kitchen compost bin, emptying this bin regularly into the large compost bin.
- To keep your compost healthy add a good combination of greens (grass cuttings, tea bags, fruit and veg peelings) and browns (cardboard such as egg boxes, paper fallen leaves).
- Add browns if your compost appears to wet and green if it appears to dry
- Add egg shells for extra minerals.
- To add air mix contents or add cardboard.
- After 6-9 months your compost will be ready (should be a dark brown colour) and then you can use it as a fertiliser.
By planning your meals you are more likely to only buy what you need, as well as waste less. This not only saves you money but in my experience just makes life easier. You can plan these meals on a notebook/ whiteboard or if you want that extra aesthetic then hit my sister up for a meal plan board (@hollytrippcalligrapher).
Buy Reduced Food
There is always a reduced aisle in supermarkets so take advantage of this. If you can do your shopping late at night because not only will it probably be quieter, but this is when there will be more reduced products on the shelves. Don’t be put off by best before dates because as I will go on to explain later, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they cannot be eaten after this date.
Dates on Foods
Use by, sell by, expiry, best before – what does it all mean? There is a lot of confusion as to when foods are safe to eat and when they aren’t. Let’s explain this by breaking down the terms on packaging that cause much of this confusion.
Use by: These dates relate to food safety, so are important to pay attention to. If it says to use meat by a certain date you need to stick to this.
Sell by: These are for shop workers guidance of when to display things and not for shoppers to worry about.
Expiry date: This is similar to use by. If you are eating foods such as meat, fish, milk or giving baby formula to a baby that is past its expiry date this is when you do need to throw it away.
Best before date: This means the food product will be of a better quality before this date, not that it is unsafe to eat past this date. This often appears on yoghurts, which are safe to consume if they are sealed past their best before date. The consequence of eating a yoghurt past its best before date is that it will decrease in flavour and increase in acidity. Sound bad? I didn’t think so.
So with foods that have best before when should we keep eating them until. It is easy to use your sense as a guide. Ask yourself does it smell okay, does it look okay or if you taste some does it taste okay? If all these questions are answered with a yes then you can eat the food. Granted these tips are counting that you have all your senses, which is not always the case, especially with Covid-19 when so many appear to have lost their sense of smell and taste. In this instance it may be best to check with someone else if you aren’t able to. The point is that for a lot of foods, it will not kill you if you have a food slightly ‘out of date’ so don’t automatically think you need throw it away. Better still consume it before this is even a problem.
Hopefully these tips are simple enough for you to introduce into your daily life and you find them helpful. There are many reasons we need to do more to waste less, but to me it seems that if we can help the environment and our pockets by doing simple things then why not. If you want to go further than that’s even better, but this isn’t always sustainable for everyone to do. If you want to know more about this then visit @maxlanmanna on Instagram as he is considered a powerhouse of knowledge on this subject.
I hope you enjoy your less-waste journey and save some money whilst doing it.