When it comes to saving the planet, there’s no better place to start than the kitchen. Each year as consumers we waste the equivalent of around five bags of groceries per person. Here are some simple ways to keep waste to a minimum and make the most of the food you buy, grow and cook.
1 - Store your groceries correctly
We’re all guilty of leaving fruit and veggies to perish in the crisper, but there’s plenty of ways to prolong their lifespan. Pop herbs in a glass of water in the fridge to extend their usefulness, wrap vegies in a damp tea towel, and freeze any fruit or meat that’s about to expire.
2 - Grow your own food
Whether you live on acreage, have a garden, balcony, or even a windowsill, you can grow your own food. Start with easy-to-grow herbs such as rosemary, basil, chives, mint, oregano, parsley, sage and thyme. It’s so much cheaper than spending a few dollars every time you need a sprig of basil or parsley for a meal, plus there’s no waste. Other edibles that don’t take up much space include cut-and-come-again leafy greens such as lettuce and spinach, tomatoes, strawberries, beans and peas (grow them up a trellis), and capsicum and chillies.
3 - Buy ‘ugly’ fruit and vegetables
Often called ‘imperfect picks’, these are the fruit and veg that don’t make the ridiculous aesthetic standards of supermarkets. They are often sold at a fraction of the price of produce that’s more appealing to the eye, and taste just as good.
4 - Learn to preserve
Preserving food saves waste and money. Learning to pickle, dry, can, ferment and cure foods is fun, makes food last longer and reduces waste. Not only will these methods shrink your carbon footprint, they will save you money as well. Turn leftover fruit into jam or marmalade, make applesauce from excess apples and pickle vegies such as carrots and cabbage.
5 - Keep your fridge and pantry tidy
Every week, go through your fridge and rescue anything that’s close to expiry. Use veg that’s past its prime to make soups or roast them on a big tray in the oven. Chop up overripe fruit and add to smoothies or juices, or pop them in the freezer. Similarly, go through your pantry and move anything that’s close to expiry to the front of the cupboard. Make a list of simple pantry meals to use up half-bags of pasta and rice. Wipe your fridge and pantry shelves down regularly and do a stock-take of what you’ve got before your grocery shop. And always shop with existing food in your kitchen in mind.
6 - Save leftovers
Don’t chuck leftovers out, store them in a glass container in the fridge and have them for lunch the next day. They often taste better after a day or two anyway. Plus you’ll save money on buying lunches at work.