Food wastage is a massive issue. We waste 6 billion a year in Australia alone, never mind countries far larger than us! The world has plenty to eat, if we just stopped throwing away perfectly fresh food. I personally get super excited about managing my produce supplies really well before topping up is required. I shared this with the Low Tox community, and turns out you guys do too! But you want some fun hacks and clever tips to keep you inspired. Here’s a couple of my simple ways to stretch out those scrappy stalks of kale left in the bottom of your crisper, those bendy carrots, or those not-so-appealing soft beets.
Keep in mind, creating yummy dishes from your leftovers is the sort of skill that takes some time to perfect. But don’t let this hold you back! Knowing what goes with what, and just how limp a veggie can actually be before no longer edible is something you can only really trial with practice. So jump in, give it a crack and marvel in whatever you create. Worst case scenario… it can go straight into compost if it doesn’t work out.
Get going with some of my ‘Food-scrap recipes’
My ‘Fridge-Scrap Soup’ and ‘Buy-Nothing-New-Curry’ are probably my two go-to’s when the fridge is looking rather bare. They’re tried, tested and have the tick of approval from the family. This style of throw-together cooking is perfect when you’re aiming to –
- Stretch your food budget
- Minimise waste
- Make something out of things that would individually be really uninspiring and not embraced by the family.
It looks as delicious and packed with flavour as it tastes. The Tahini yoghurt makes it at the end. If you can’t / don’t do dairy, swap the butter and yoghurt for olive oil and almond yoghurt.
Bonus food-waste hack: If you’ve got any cheese rinds from parmesan, gruyère, gran padano etc… add it to your soup. It makes for the perfect flavourful soup enhancer. Pop them in & pull out before serving.
Buy Nothing New Curry
This curry is fabulously frugal and the tastiest way I know to make the most of less-than-desirable looking veggie odds and ends in the fridge. Don’t be bound by my ingredients list; make this curry your own by using any limp veg you have on hand. I promise if you made it up for friends and family they would have no idea that the bones of it came from the depths of your fridge.
(Photo credit Murdoch/Rob Palmer)
Get Creative and Resourceful!
Use a few of these easy ideas to stretch those scraps out just a little bit more.
Broccoli or kale stalks. Chop fine and fry in butter, with herbs and Celtic sea salt – a fab veggie side for meats and fish.
English Spinach/Silverbeet stalks. Freeze them and use in future casseroles or bakes. The bitterness subsides with cooking.
Veggie peelings. Perfect for stock. Save in freezer and pop in when you next make a batch (We cook carrots, potatoes etc whole here though, for the extra fibre).
Bread Ends. Those crusts at either side of a loaf. Do you keep them or toss them? Keep them over time in the freezer and when you’ve got enough, pop them in a very low oven for an hour or two until they dry out. Blitz them, bag them and use them for crumbing. Pop what’s left in a jar and store in the freezer to avoid pantry moths.
Bones. Had a roast chook? Lamb shoulder? T-Bone or farmer’s cutlet? Ribs? Do not, I repeat do not throw away the bones – even if you’ve eaten from them. Pop said bones, rinsed, into a pot with some filtered water and stock veggies and leave overnight in a 120-celsius oven. Next morning you have a flavoursome, mineral-rich powerhouse to add to soups and sauces (reduce a cup for 20 minutes with a teaspoon of butter at the end, to make a delicious glaze).
The water you’ve steamed veggies on top of / cooked veggies in. Cool it & drink it. Or add it to soups instead of plain water. Full of vitamins!
Make a puree/ favour bomb cube. Blend everything that looks old and limp (bendy carrots, soft capsicums, beets that are soft, pulpy herbs, those three ratty pieces of kale. Pop into a high-powered blender, blitz and freeze into tiny containers to add to soups and bolognese for added flavour.
Preserve. Preempt potential food waste by taking those 45 lemons from Aunty Sue and making your own preserves, or utilise that giant cabbage half and turn it into sauerkraut. Pretty much anything can be preserved or fermented if done correctly!
Eggshells, veggie scraps, unbleached tea bags. All perfect to pop in your green waste recycling, or to make your own compost for yours or a friend’s garden. Or you can crush eggshells and sprinkle a border around your veggie patch. Apparently snails and slugs won’t cross this border and your lettuces will remain your property! The mum in law has confirmed this rumour, who’s a veggie garden enthusiast.
The spent fibres from veggie juicing. If you don’t have time to a Make a quick stock out of it with some parsley, onion and thyme. Takes 30 seconds to whack in a pan. Leave on low for an hour. and strain, jar + freeze.
Bruised / overripe fruit – Compote time! Pop in a pan with a few drops of stevia or a little drizzle of rice syrup, maple or honey and simmer with a pinch of your favourite sweet spice for 20 minutes. Serve warm over ice cream or yoghurt. Delicious!
If you’re new to composting, read all about it here: ‘Join the compost revolution!’. Another great resource is your local council. Did you know most councils will offer a subsidised compost bin to suit your garden, apartment, house needs? They also have pages and pages of resources on how to make it work for you.
If you have a large amount of food going to waste from a big wedding or corporate event, know your local food rescue program. Mine is OzHarvest and they’re the best, feeding millions of homeless people with perfectly good leftovers!
When in doubt, chuck to the chooks / dogs
Now if all else fails, and your scraps are just too far gone, you don’t have time to rework them into something new or you can’t give them away, you can always feed them to your animals (assuming that are mould-free/ not off and suitable to be eaten). I mean, how can you resist that face?…
These are just some of my tips, but I’d LOVE to hear yours! Share with me in the comments.
Low Tox. Happy bodies. Happy Planet.