Previously, I have talked about my interest in promoting a zero food waste lifestyle. The enthusiasm behind ‘my food philosophy’ gradually came to me through a learning curve-type process where I figured out how to incorporate the concerns and causes I want to associate myself with into my daily routines (just like many passionate advocates, I guess). I want to give everybody further insight into how easy it is to eliminate food waste, a worryingly large problem in the UK.
Over the past few months, I have learned a few hacks into limiting my food waste whilst simultaneously eating healthily, socialising/partying, travelling and generally treating myself well. I am also here to clarify that ‘zero food waste’ does not necessarily mean a very frugal life leading to misery, it simply requires being mindful.
These are all based on personal experience. Tricks required to suit your needs may differ, but results will (hopefully) be the same – a limited/zero food waste life.
Seeing doubles? Check your fridge before a supermarket sweep. I am sure my parents’ fridge is not the only one filled with doubles of everything; sauces and condiments appear as multiplets. It’s very important to check what is lurking in your fridges/freezers beforehand to avoid buying multiples and prevent wasting, what would otherwise be, consumable products; you’re effectively throwing money in the bin.
Preserve. Whether that means freezing overripe bananas for smoothies and such, or preserving jars and jars of summer’s finest beans, make your fresh products last longer at their best. With everyone claiming the busy bee title for themselves these days, eating food at its optimal ripeness/sweetness/etc. may not be possible for most. Instead, preserve them when they’ve reached their prime for consumption later – totally medal-worthy.
Make things up on the spot. To avoid point # 1 above, what I have learned is that following recipes is unnecessary on most days. Checking ingredients you have on hand, as well as food that may soon be a no-go, will feed you well, and encourage those creative juices to flow freely. Mixing unknown food combinations together may even brighten up an otherwise sombre day (e.g. Mondays).
A little goes a long way. Avoid the traditional way of things and follow the unbeaten path. As with #3, forget about rigid recipes. Using food in an unconventional manner mean more meals can peruse a single ingredient in all shapes and sizes. Take cauliflowers, for example. You can process it to make cauli rice; steam and process to make a creamy alfredo sauce; steam and process to bulk out some mashed potatoes; the list is endless. If you’re feeling extremely adventurous, peruse the stems for future meals, which Cheap Lazy Vegan has suggested previously.
Stock up your cupboards/pantry/larders. A well-stocked kitchen brimming with condiments, dried herbs and spices, and sauces (long-lasting, mind) can transform dishes and meals to pow wow good. From the subtle tones of tahini, to the kick provided by some Sriracha, a simple bowl of steamed rice and vegetables can be made into a sushi bowl, burrito bowl, curried rice, kedgeree, or stir-fried style meal; the difference in these meals merely lies on the sauces used.
Readily-available canned and dried products, such as beans and pulses, also create a filling meal without the need for too many fresh ingredients around. This section of my blog tells you my fave pantry items and more, which may give you an idea or two!
Recycle/upcycle. Use old nut butter jars to store nuts/seeds/homemade sauces. Use life bags when food shopping. This probably works best if you shop mostly local, but encourage businesses to decant dried goods into your own glass/stainless steel containers to save them trouble (and money) if they were to package these themselves. Also for top pros: there are so many beauty/cleaning products you can make using food remnants. Pulp from making oat milk, par exemple, can be used to make a face scrub/mask.
Get tupperware savvy. The troublesome BPA is lurking in many plastic containers the majority of the population often use. BPA-free plastic is pretty great too, however, plastic is largely not recyclable. Instead, opt for glass jars/kilners/mason jars/stainless steel containers to store your packed lunches and left-over dinners. It’s shabby chic (2009, is that you?), and eco-friendly.