According to the FAO, one-third of the food grown worldwide is wasted. That’s enough to feed all the hungry people in the world and leave leftovers. It also worsens our carbon footprint because we are wasting the water, fertiliser and energy used to produce food we throw away. Each one of us can make a difference (and save money – Australians throw away AUD$3800 worth of food a year). Here are our favourite food and money saving tips.
Eat the skin You might not be game enough to eat furry kiwi skin, but where possible eat the skin from your fruits and vegetables. Not only does it waste less, but often the brightly coloured skins from fruits like apples are a concentrated source of antioxidants and fibre. Off-cuts like carrot peels, onion and tomato tops, herb stalks and celery leaves can be saved in a sealed bag in the freezer and then used later along with a chicken carcass to make homemade stock.
Keep it fresh The way that you store foods can keep them fresh for an extra few days, or weeks. Store most fruits (not bananas) and vegetables in the fridge to keep them fresh. For fruits that ripen after picking, such as stone fruits, bring them out of the fridge to the fruit bowl a few at a time to ripen. Having them on display also encourages people to eat them. Keep leafy greens wrapped in paper towels inside bags or containers in the fridge to keep them crisp, and the slime at bay. Herbs can even be kept longer with their ‘feet’ in a glass or jar of water topped with a plastic bag. Wash fruits and vegetables just before you eat them, not before you store – moisture attracts mould. Freeze raw meats within a few days so you don’t forget them in the back of the fridge. Freeze loaves of sliced bread to keep them fresh, and then take slices out as you need them. Store dry goods such as breakfast cereal in airtight containers (or better yet, upcycled old jars) to help keep them fresh.
Don’t bin it, use it When your food is looking past its prime, don’t automatically bin it, be creative and use it. Toast old bread to make croutons for soup or toss them through your salad. Freeze over-ripe fruits such as bananas and berries and use them to make smoothies. Make a quick berry jam by adding the mushy fruit and sugar in a jar and microwave until it becomes jam-like, then put it in the fridge to enjoy with yoghurt, porridge, ice cream or on wholegrain toast. Cut the bruised bits out of fruits and stew them and serve with yoghurt or custard. Rescue limp veggies out of your fridge and use them to make soups, stews, pizza toppings or homemade veggie juice. Get creative with your leftover cooked meats and use them to make toasted sandwiches, quesadillas, nachos, frittata, omelette, salads, soups, pies and casseroles.
Compost if you can Eggshells, coffee grounds, tea leaves, fruit peels (not citrus) and vegetable scraps can all be composted. This may come as a surprise, but fruit and vegetable scraps decompose differently in landfill than in a compost bin. Unlike compost, landfill is lacking in oxygen therefore the organic scraps produce methane gas – a greenhouse gas 26 times stronger as they break down than carbon dioxide. Worm farms are also an excellent way to dispose of food scraps and create valuable compost for the garden. For apartment dwellers, Bokashi bins are a clever way to get rid of food scraps if you don’t have a garden.
Keeping it green, in a nutshell:
- Save money and reduce your environmental footprint by wasting less food.
- To keep your food fresh, store it correctly: fresh foods in the fridge or freezer and dry goods in airtight containers.
- To minimise waste and maximise nutrition, use all your fruits and vegetable, and compost any scraps.
- Rescue food past their prime and cook them up into new dishes
- Transform your leftovers into a new meal.
Thanks to Rachel Ananin AKA TheSeasonalDietitian.com for her assistance with this article.
Nicole Senior is an Accredited Nutritionist, author, consultant, cook, food enthusiast and mother who strives to make sense of nutrition science and delights in making healthy food delicious.
Contact: You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or check out her website.