REDUCING FOOD WASTE BY USING WHAT WE HAVE
You can prevent leftovers and scraps from being thrown out. This is how you do it.
We are living in a world of consumption and waste.
According to a report by WRAP that was published in January 2020, the average UK household throws out the equivalent of eight meals a week. That equates to an enormous 4.5 million tonnes of food each year at a cost of £14 billion.
We’ve got to a point where we have so much food waste, we are no longer able to process it, with COVID-19 further exacerbating this issue. It’s not just the UK, the USA struggling to deal with this problem too; farmers that normally provide the hospitality industries have been left with such a huge surplus they have been forced to find new ways to re-distribute their produce, often giving it away in an attempt to avoid being faced with charges of tens of thousands of dollars for disposal.
It is a food crisis on a global scale.
Although the average household can do little to appease problems of this magnitude, there are some things that we can all do to stop from adding to this crisis, and some of them are a lot more simple than you might think!
So what do I mean by that?
Well, one of the easiest ways to combat the issue of having surplus food is to plan out your meals for the week ahead. That way you can buy exactly what you need to create these dishes and you can be clever about ingredients that work in multiple recipes. It’s not just leftovers though, it’s the other things that we throw away without even thinking about it, things that are not rubbish at all, and that’s what I want to highlight.
Once I had made these revelations I started to experiment. Elevating my stale bread and potato skins was just the beginning.
The best thing is about this is that it’s easy and anyone can do it!
1. Root Vegetable Tops
You know when you get your veggies from the greengrocer, the market, or better still your garden, and your carrots or beetroot come with the lovely bunch of leaves still intact? Don’t throw them away — you can eat them, they are delicious in salads. You can also grow leaves from the tops, just put into a shallow tray of water, somewhere sunny (windowsill is ideal) and wait for them to sprout.
2. Potato/Vegetable Skins
My favourite kind of potato chips are the kind that have their skins still on. It suddenly dawned on me that maybe if we put our potato skins in the air fryer they might taste like this. I was right! The same applies to any vegetable peels. Just make sure you scrub your vegetables, first of all, peel them, then toss the peelings in some oil (I use grapeseed) and sprinkle with sea salt, then throw them in the air fryer. Keep an eye on them, and give them a regular shake as they will suddenly start to crisp. These are so good!
3. Stale Bread
Isn’t it funny how when you get to be a grown-up you find out that stuff you always considered to be ‘posh’ is no more than things being creatively saved from the bin? Bread is definitely an item that falls into this category. If you do have some stale bread you also have an abundance of options of what to do with the bread, but here are my favourites:
Just blitz the stale bread in a food processor and voila you have breadcrumbs; I store mine in the freezer.
Crostini or Croutons
Crostini I normally reserve for a baguette just for aesthetics really, whereas croutons I make from any bread. The method is the same for either.
Fresh garlic, or garlic powder, oil of your choice (I like olive) and some salt. I dilute the olive oil with water 50/50 solution in a spray bottle — you could also brush it on, it’s just not as fast.
You can cook in an air fryer, over bake, pan fry or griddle, my preferred option is the air fryer.
- Slice your baguette into rounds (for other bread into chunks around 1cm — 2cm)
- If using fresh — squash your garlic clove and peel (do not chop) then rub the garlic on two sides of each crouton or crostini.
- Add your croutons or crostini into a large bowl, give your oil and water mix a good shake then spritz them. Give them a good toss and spritz them again to make sure they are well coated. (If you are using powdered garlic sprinkle over the bread mix and repeat a few times to make sure evenly coated)
- Sprinkle with salt
- Add to the air fryer on medium to high heat and keep an eye on them as they tend to take a little while to start then burn very quickly.
They will keep in an airtight jar for around two weeks. (they never last more than a couple of days in my house)
4. Chickpea or Bean Juice
Really! The slimy water that comes in a tin of chickpeas or beans is also an excellent binder and substitute for egg white. Chickpea brine even has its own name ‘aquafaba’ and is such a good substitute you can make meringues from it, I have done this and it works!! This is the recipe I followed:
So you have some overripe fruit that is on the turn, don’t throw it out there is an abundance of things you can do with it!
The easiest one is to stick it in your freezer and use it later for things like smoothies.
So simple, just cook the fruit with some sugar (to your taste) and you can use to top ice cream, granola, porridge and many more things. As the compote cools it will thicken, so you can use it as a jam. You can also freeze the compote.
My favourite fermentation for fruit is Tepache, you just need a few ingredients, pineapple, chilis and sugar.
The same rules apply as for fruit really. What I didn’t know until recently was how incredibly easy it is to pickle and ferment things. My fridge is now full of every kind of pickle and fermented vegetable, and they are so good for your gut health too!
Here are 3 different ways you can make delicious and easy kraut!
See how easy it is!? You’ll be pickling everything now.
7. Leftover Mashed Potatoes
I realise that leftover mashed potatoes is a relatively rare occurrence in most normal households, but it happens, sometimes, and there is some really yummy stuff you can make from them!
If you haven’t tried this in your life, it’s amazing. We use the recipe below and sub the milk and butter out for vegan options. It’s so fluffy and delicious!
My childhood was full of tattie cakes and farls as my father grew up in Northern Ireland. They are substantial and great topped with baked beans. We sub out the dairy with vegan alternatives and is still fantastic.
8. Garlic, Herbs, Chilies and Spices
You can do a few things with these when they are getting close to the end of their lives.
- Chop Them Up and Add Vinegar
(and a little sugar if you wish) to them — this will prolong the life and also makes a nice dressing, you can combine multiple herbs and spices into the mix.
- Blitz/Chop Add Water and Pour Into Your Ice Cube Tray
then store in the freezer until you are ready to use.
- Oil infusion
I use any leftover herbs and chillies to make oil infusions. It’s so simple, you just add them to your oil (I use olive oil) and wait a few weeks, the oil becomes infused with the herbs that you added, then you can use it as a salad dressing or drizzle onto your pizza!
Again it’s pretty unusual for either of these things to be leftover in my house but if they are we normally just throw them into a soup.
This is a great one-pot soup to use up any noodles you might have kicking around.
It might be that you have some Italian flavoured sauce on your pasta, that’s ok, you just take an Italian soup route.
I am really bad at estimating rice portions so we always end up with a bunch of leftover rice sitting around. With rice just make sure it is stored properly, and when it’s reheated it is cooked very thoroughly. Obviously, there are the obvious fried rice and risotto, but here are some more I have been really enjoying lately.
I love this recipe by sweet simple vegan, it’s enough to satisfy any sweet craving without being too unhealthy.
For this recipe sub the egg out for a flax egg or aquafaba, I am vegan so this is how we make them, and they are delicious.
So there you have it, 10 ways you can make your food go further and help you to create less waste, I hope this has been helpful and inspired you to try out something new.
You can find more from the same author here: