Valentine’s Day has come and gone. Grateful much? Whether it was love at first sight, or not, we hope to keep the love flowing, with some more practical tips for wasting less at home (and loving the earth more). This week, we’re tackling food waste. Research suggests that tonnes of food produced for human consumption in South Africa is wasted, and fruit and veggies are one of the biggest food waste culprits. An average South African can generate 177kg of food waste every year. Clearly, too many of us live as though electricity comes from the plug, water from the tap, and vegetables from the grocery store. What can you do? Here’s two simple strategies to start reducing your food waste.
Make your freezer your friend!
If you haven’t yet discovered just how fantastic your freezer is, then this one’s for you. Freezing is an excellent way to store food, save some cash, and prevent wastage. And a full freezer is a happy freezer; the fuller it is, the more energy efficient it is.
So fill-up your freezer with some of these ideas, inspired by the ever resourceful Sarah Wilson. First, read up on the basics. Here’s some of Sarah’s favourite freezer hacks to get you started.
Tip 1: The glorious ice-cube tray
Use it to freeze leftovers, and other bits and bobs, like herbs, stocks, lemon juice and pesto. Once frozen, pop each ‘ice cube’ out and store in a ziplock bag in the freezer, ready to be used. Not sold? Why not try these:
- Perhaps you’ve had some beautiful, fresh mint growing in your garden, but, as winter rolls around, it will soon start to die down. Cut several sprigs of it, rinse, and pick the leaves off. Place about 8 leaves in each ice cube mould, cover with water, and freeze. As above, pop out and store. Next time you’d like a fresh hit of mint, just pop out a cube, allow it to defrost, or use the cube whole in a smoothie or a glass of water. Fresh mint throughout winter, without buying any from the shops!
- Made a curry recently? Still have some coconut milk/cream/water sitting in the back of your fridge? Freeze leftovers and store, for a future curry, or even a smoothie!
Tip 2: Challenge the storage quo
Ziplock bags are a great way to save space in your freezer – stacked like books, you’ll be surprised how much more you can actually freeze! You can also re-use them; just wash in soapy water, rinse, and let them dry on your dish rack, or stuck to the wall. And they’re great for freezing portion sizes, so buy in bulk!
Sarah’s suggestion is to keep smoothie and stock bags in your freezer (or your fridge if using soon), to blitz into smoothies, or to add to veggie or meat stocks. It’s a great way to use up leftovers, and reduce waste. Smoothie bags can include grated courgettes, celery offcuts, herbs and fruit. Yes, we did say courgettes – they’re great in smoothies! They bulk them up quite nicely, and are more nutritionally dense than cucumbers. And for your Stock bag; onion and carrot tops, celery offcuts and herb stalks.
If you can eat it, you can compost it
Well, that’s not entirely true, but it’s a good way to start thinking. One way to significantly reduce your food waste, is to compost it. Think about how often you throw away the ends of a tomato, or an apple core, or egg shells. Most, if not all, of your food waste can be made into valuable compost. By choosing to compost your food waste, not only are you helping the planet by reducing your overall waste, but you can use the compost you make, in your garden, to improve the quality of your soil. And happy soil means happy plants. Why wouldn’t you want that?
And the beauty is that everyone can compost, whether you live in a small apartment or on a farm. There are different ways to compost to suit all sorts of lifestyles and budgets. Worm farms and bokashi are great for smaller homes, can be homemade, or bought as whole systems, while a compost heap will work wonders in a large garden. And it’s not just your food waste, but newspapers, cardboard and garden waste can also be composted. Start investigating and find the solution that works for you.
So, as you cook tonight’s meal, we encourage you to be more mindful about the food scraps you generate, and to think a little differently about where they go. Hopefully we can all learn to waste a little less, so we can love the earth a little more! And if you’re looking for more waste-free tips, check out this blog post!