In these times of economic and environmental uncertainty, it is everybody’s duty to try to minimise waste. The Western world is very wasteful. How many of us have dying food in our refrigerators that ultimately ends up in the bin and then in the landfill? We are throwing away hundreds of dollars a year. Of course, the less food we buy the less packaging we’re using as well. It takes great energy to grow and/or process this food, to store it in warehouses or wholesale market refrigeration and to transport it to our neighbourhood. Many of us have enormous fridges and freezers which chew up electricity and which far exceed our needs. It’s time for us all to do an audit.
My offspring are very fussy, possibly because they are sons of fruiterers, but also because they have no understanding of being poor or having to go without. Any fruit with the slightest blemish is rejected and discarded as it does not meet their quality standards. I hate waste so I make a conscious effort to buy wisely, use up leftovers and turn “discard foods” into edible morsels. Recently I have started to do a weekly audit of my fridge in a further effort to cut waste. I encourage everyone to do the same.
Many of us are time poor, so a great opportunity to do the audit occurs when we are taking a bit of time out to watch our favourite TV show. During the commercial breaks do an audit of your fridge shelf by shelf and then audit the crisper. Check all the use-by dates and take out anything close to date. Take out fruit, vegetables and herbs that are starting to die and unlikely to get eaten and any food in small amounts like leftovers, cream and sauces. Now put your thinking cap on and decide how you’re going to turn these foods into delicious meals within the next day.
Lets start with fruit:
- Apples, pears and stone fruit can be stewed. They can then be made into a sauce, a pie or fruit crumble or just eaten stewed as a lovely supper. If you’re cooking a roast, wrap apples or pears in aluminum foil. They make a great sauce to have with a roast, especially pork.
- Make a fruit salad. Serve as a dessert or add to cereal.
- Make a curry and add fruit.
- Use leftover cake and fruit to make a trifle or sundae.
- Turn overripe tomatoes into a sauce. Boil the tomatoes until the skin can be easily peeled off. Drain the water and peel the skins; then mash the tomatoes. Add carrot and herbs. You now have a sauce to add to mince, beans or lentils.
- Overripe bananas can be mashed and made into banana cake or muffins.
- Make a smoothie with berries and bananas.
- Juice lemons and freeze. The juice can be placed into ice cubes for small amounts.
- Plant tops of pineapples to grow your own fruit.
- Wilted silver beets and celery can be resurrected. Cut the ends off the sticks and put the sticks into water. It’ll be as if they’ve taken Viagra. After a couple of hours they’ll be crisp again.
- Cut leftover vegetables into small pieces and use in a stir fry.
- Make bubble and squeak out of leftover potatoes and cabbage.
- Cabbage can be substituted for lettuce in a salad.
- Small amounts of spinach, pumpkin and other vegetables can make great toppings for gourmet pizzas.
- Potatoes that have turned green should not be eaten. If they have sprouted, plant them.
- Use leftover meat in a curry or stir-fry.
- Leftover pork roast or chicken makes a great sweet-and-sour dish or can be used to make a pasta dish just by adding a cream or tomato sauce.
- Make a meat lovers’ pizza.
- Make a potato bake with leftover ham, bacon or chicken.
- Leftover cream and yoghurt can be used as substitutes for milk in cake and muffin recipes.
- Make a dip with yoghurt.
- Add cheeses to salads.
Once you’ve done an audit for a few consecutive weeks you’ll realise which food items you tend to waste the most and then you can change your buying habits accordingly. For instance, if you waste fresh herbs, cream or milk on a regular basis you could consider purchasing long-life items or pastes.
If you have bought too much, share with neighbours, friends or family instead of leaving food until it’s too late and it gets wasted. Compost fruit and vegetables that can’t be used.
By taking little steps to reduce waste we can all contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. By consuming more wisely we can cut down transport costs, energy costs, packaging and landfill.
Image from Microsoft Clipart