You already plan your family meals for the week and have a tidy fridge. You compost the scraps and are well-acquainted with your freezer. Your household food waste is at a minimum. But what if you want to take things one step further? Let’s get creative! From cleaning products to making smoothies, there are plenty options.
Make your own stock
Avoid excessively packaged, overly salty shop-bought stock and save some money by making your own with veg scraps. Keep a container or bag in the freezer and add your scraps as you go. When you have a bag/box full of scraps – which can include chopped off tops and bottoms, (washed) skins and stalks – add them to a pot with water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, adding salt as required. You can keep it in the fridge for 4 days max but if frozen it can be stored for up to three months.
Many people have started avoiding single-use, disposable containers and, instead, have opted for more eco-friendly refills. Better still, you can make your own natural cleaning products from food waste – saving money, reducing food waste AND avoid the strong chemical odor of shop-bought household cleaners. What’s not to like?!
Citrus sprays are particularly popular with their refreshing scent. A lemon rind based multi-purpose cleaner is one of our favorites and so easy to make. Simply, save the rinds of your lemons in a glass jar then pour distilled white vinegar into the jar and store it (with the lid on tightly) in a cool, dark place for 3 to 5 days. When the time is up, remove the rinds and strain it through a mesh strainer to ensure any large particles are removed. Finally, pour into a spray bottle with a 1:1 ratio of water to cleaner. This can be used as a multipurpose general household cleaner – but you should avoid using on marble or stone as the acidity of the mixture may damage the surfaces.
Always left with some wilting, soon-to-be-spoiled produce in the bottom of the fridge at the end of the week? Why not toss it all into a blender and make a smoothie? Nothing is off-limits. Stems, peels and ends might not be an attractive snack in their original form but often they are full of nutrients and fiber, making a nutritious addition to any smoothie. Just chuck it all in, add some liquid and alter according to taste if needed. Fun, nutritious and a great way of reducing food waste!
Supermarkets often sell herbs in larger quantities than you need. Why not freeze that parsley that you never got round to using? Not only will you minimize food waste you will also always have flavorful herbs on-hand for soups, sauces and stews.
There are countless techniques suggested if you google ‘frozen herbs’. Our favorite, and one of the most straight forward, is to prepare your herbs as you would prior to eating – remove thick stalks – and chop finely. If you have large amounts, you can use a blender, if not a knife will be fine. Grab an ice cube tray and push your finely chopped herbs into the individual compartments, topping them off with neutral-tasting vegetable or olive oil. The oil helps the herbs retain their flavor whilst also melting quicker than water when you come to use them in your recipes. Once frozen push them out the ice cube tray and into a freezer bag to store long-term.
A great way to avoid the pitfalls of massive supermarket herb pre-packaged bundles is to grow your own. Its easy and fun – get the kids involved! You don’t need lots of space or special equipment, many will grow happily on a windowsill. A planter starter may be useful for some herbs – sage, oregano and rosemary, to name a few. These are plants that have already grown a little and can be found in garden centers or hardware stores. Some herbs, such as chives, are simpler to grow and can be grown from seed. Planted in a well-draining pot, the seeds and starter plants, only need watered when the soil is dry or when they are drooping and at least 6 hours of indirect sunlight per day.
You will be familiar with freezing food to make it last longer but how about trying things like pickling, curing or fermenting food as a preservation method? Pickling is particularly easy. Simply chop up your favorite veg and pop into a glass jar. Optional extras such as garlic or chili can be added – get creative! Prepare some brine with vinegar, water, sugar and a pinch of salt – bring to the boil and add to your veg-filled glass jar. These make a great snack or side addition to a main meal.
The bottom line
Being creative with ways to prevent food wastage can be fun as well as saving money and time! Getting the kids involved too is a great tool for learning about the planet and developing good habits for the future. Here at TOTP we are constantly looking for ways to reduce food waste and live more sustainably. Let us know in the comments section below if you have any tips that we could try!