War on Waste - Food, home solutions

Since watching the ABC's War on Waste, I've realised that a lot of us don't know how serious the waste problem is and now I'm wondering if there is something we can do about it here on the blog. I want it to be a collaborative effort, something that involves pooling our knowledge so we can all work towards minimising waste. We should all be doing something, even if it one thing. Doing nothing isn't an option anymore.

I'll start with this idea and see how we go with it. Hopefully, with the combined knowledge here, we can identify common, home-based waste problems and together, build a list of potential solutions.  I'll list each of these posts under the label War on Waste. I want us to create a useful and intelligent resource we can all return to regularly for information and motivation.

FOOD WASTE

The first problem to tackle is food waste, it's something we all deal with. I'll tell you what works well for us here, then, in the comments, you tell us what you're doing in your home to stop wasting food. Please, only contribute your tried and tested methods, something you do that works well and that others may try in their own homes.

The big thing here in my kitchen is the bag clip. I blogged about these when I discovered them (years after everyone else) about 12 months ago. They're still working well and helping us save a lot of food.  If I put vegetables such as lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, radishes etc into an air tight plastic bag sealed with one of these clips, the food lasts at least twice as long as it does sitting in the crisper in the fridge. It's such an easy thing to do, I wash the vegetables first, shake off the excess water, then put it in the bag and clip it. Then it goes into the crisper drawer. When I get it out, sometimes two weeks later, it's still crisp and lovely.

Handy hint: you can wash the plastic bags quite a few times before they have to be disposed of. Keep them going until they develop a split or a hole.

Make sure to harvest your home grown vegetables before they start wasting away in the garden. One fresh lettuce in a clipped plastic bag in the fridge will see you through a few salads and when it's coming to an end, harvest another fresh lettuce and bring it inside.
Here are the amazing clips - a black one on the cauliflower, a white one on the lettuce. A wonderful low tech solution for storing food, as long as you don't go overboard on the plastic bags.

Just a quick word on the food you grow in the backyard.  It's a shame to waste any food so work out how you'll manage the vegetables you grow and make sure you stick to that.  At the moment in the colder weather, lettuces can stay in the garden for a week or so if your'e not quite ready to use them.  I pick a lettuce, wash it and like my store bought vegetables, store it in a plastic bag with a clip. Vegetables such as peas, beans, silver beet/chard, spinach, carrots can be picked, blanched and frozen.

Think about sharing a basket or a bunch with a friend or neighbour if you have more than enough in your garden.

Another thing to do is to wrap celery and soft herbs such as parsley, in foil. Again, wash it first, shake off the excess and wrap it well so nothing is poking out. Celery will keep like this for six weeks and still be as crisp as the day you wrapped it.  Parsley lasts a couple of weeks.  Of course all this depends on how old the vegetable/herb is when you wrap it.  Wrapping 6 week old celery that you found for 50 cents at the supermarket will not be saved.

Parsley and some soft herbs can be stored safely in foil. Place the foil parcel in the crisper in your fridge.


For citrus - either what you grow or buy, juice it if you think you won't eat it in the next week. I store our backyard citrus juice in 2 litre bottles for cordial in summer, or as ice blocks for small amounts of lemon juice in my cooking. Either way, juicing works extremely well.

Pure lemon juice ice blocks in 100ml portions for cooking.

It's a good idea to plan your shopping list and only buy what you know you'll eat. When you return with a full shopping bag, take the time to deal with the perishable food immediately. Think about how to store each vegetable so it will last in a nutritional state until you eat it.

Now it's over to you, my friends. Tell us how you're dealing with food waste in your home.

ADDED LATER: There are some fantastic ideas in the comments already. This is what I was hoping for. Thanks to everyone who left a comment. Great work!

War on Waste podcast - Keep cups and vintage knits

63 comments

  1. I use a lot of glass canning jars for storage as well as glass and some plastic containers. Not a lot of plastic bags but I do wash and reuse until they fall apart. I write on the freezer bags what they were used for - bread, meat, veggies, herbs etc. This is important as I have found that I don't need to wash as many bags as often (saving water) as I just leave them in the freezer.

    To preserve and extend the life of things like lettuce, celery and spinach I always put a piece of paper towel in the container or bag. This helps to absorb moisture. Change and compost the paper when it gets too damp. I have tried using a piece of clean cloth but this does not work quite as well.

    I also always write the expiry date on any cans or packages in big black marker. You cannot fail to see this as you can with the tiny printing that the manufacturer uses. This allows you to rotate your stock easily and use the oldest first and never let anything expire.

    Part of my morning routine is to take a good look in the fridge to see what is there and what needs to be used up. This takes just a few minutes and helps me to plan meals for the day and even for the week. It is amazing how you can forget what you have in there.

    SunnyMidnight

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    1. Loves these tips - especially the one about checking the fridge each day.

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  2. What an excellent idea Rhonda.
    I can't bear to throw food away so have a few tricks that I use regularly.

    Fry any salad which is less than fresh, fry in a small amount of butter and use as a green vegetable.
    Any left over vegetables I can't use the next day go in a plastic bag with spare gravy and are frozen to use in soups.
    Bread I make into breadcrumbs and freeze. It's wonderful to use them straight from the freezer if in a hurry.
    Any "past it's sell by" dried fruit I soak in tea and use to make boiled fruitcake.
    Every so often I make a fridge clearance casserole or soup depending on what is lurking in the fridge.
    Pasta or risotto are good ways to use odd leftovers of meat, cheese or vegetables.
    I shall look forward to picking up new tips from other posters. Sue

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    1. Dear Beachcomber, you mention soaking dried fruit in tea for a boiled fruitcake. I am so curious for the recipe!! Would you mind sharing that with us?

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  3. Two things come to mind immediately:
    1. Composting. It's a great way of 'recycling' food scraps. I've also been getting into vermiculture - I started a worm bin for breaking down scraps and leftover organic material faster than a compost heap does. It's amazing how much material a colony of worms can break down in a short space of time, and it makes for wonderfully nutritious compost!

    2. Minimalism. I'm all about challenging myself to own and to use as little as possible - pairing it down to the bare essentials. I've lived without a fridge for nine months now, and one thing that forces you to do is not to buy any more perishable food than you can eat in one or two days. Admittedly, not suited to everyone's lifestyle, but I've found it enormously helpful. :)

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  4. We do "planned leftovers" here. I usually cook food in bulk, and while we don't mind eating the same food several days in a row, we often cannot use all of it. I purposely cook more than we need, and as soon as it's cool enough I bag it up and freeze it for a night in the following weeks when I have had a busy day and no time to cook. Nothing goes to waste, and I get a night off cooking once in a while.

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  5. I have tried to be much more conscious of this issue over this past year - partly out of guilt at having wasted good food and partly because I am now retired and on a much lower income.
    I portion meat and freeze it as soon as I get home from shopping.
    I freeze leftover juice, gravy, broth, wine for use at a later date.
    If I do find veg that is getting past it's best then I cook it up and freeze it for later.
    I cannot eat a loaf of good bread before it would go bad so again I portion it up into ziplock bags and freeze it.
    I batch cook and then make up my own frozen meals (I also deliver some each week to an elderly neighbour)
    I am doing a much better job of meal planning so that I don't purchase too much or take too much out of the freezer at any one time.
    I also do a better job now of checking to see what I still have on hand before purchasing anymore.
    Every little bit helps.

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  6. If I find I have vegetables such as onions or peppers lurking in my fridge just before I go away on holiday I chop them up and freeze them. My Mum and I have an arrangement that we pass over any other perishables to each other so that the food won't be wasted while we're not at home. Arilx

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  7. When you open a tin of coconut milk or coconut cream however have some leftover measure it into 1/4 cup lots and pour into a muffin tin. Freeze for a few hours and then pop out into a container to store in the freezer. To defrost either take it out in the morning depending on how much you need (they're measured into 1/4 cup lots) or defrost in the microwave.
    Also if you have a little bit of sour cream left in a tub there are so many options on the internet. I made sour cream and blueberry muffins yesterday with the bit I had. I needed 1 cup of sour cream and was just under so I topped it up with Greek Yoghurt.

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    1. That's a good idea about the sour cream, especially as that does not freeze well. Thanks!

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  8. Two years ago I bought a dehydrator. I have been using it a lot to keep my excess garden produce done up. I have done herbs, kale, carrots, spinach, tomatoes and apple slices. I still like to can and freeze things to use, but the dehydrated veggies and fruit take up very little room, and can be used for soups, stews and sauces as well as snacks. My sister makes a soup starter with her dehydrator. It has leeks, carrots, celery, cabbage, and other assorted items. She puts it in Mason jars for gifts at Christmas.
    Barb

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  9. The thing that helps me the most is to use my leftovers the very next day. If they stay in the fridge any longer they look so unappetizing I end up throwing them away. Also I save little dabs of leftovers from dinner...it adds up to a nice lunch.

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  10. Fantastic post Rhonda. I freeze every bit of any leftover and then "create" soup! I keep all the containers on one shelf in the freezer so I know how many I have and when it is time to make soup. The slow cooker works really well for this. Blended left over pasta makes the soup thicker when added. The swishings from sauce and other bottles is added too.
    I also use ice cube trays to freeze coconut cream/milk, sour cream, evaporated milk etc. after I open a tin. I tip the cubes into a zip bag and use as required. Cheers Jo

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  11. Good Morning Rhonda....I haven't used any plastic wrap since January....am using Honey Bee Wraps where I can. Glass containers with BPA free lids for leftovers. Instead of plastic bags I wrap my lettuce In a damp tea towel. Some veggies I use a brown paper bag and label it. I wrap my butter in greaseproof paper and freeze it when I make it. Can't seem to find Waxed paper anymore! I also use glass containers. I am avoiding as much plastic as possible as a man on a local wharf told me that the saddest thing is to,pull a sea bird out of the ocean and open the belly and see all the plastic...that did it for me! I also try not to use foil....Great to start this off Rhonda and I am so happy others are doing their bit!

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  12. I think it's great to collect ideas like this, that we can try in our own homes. I menu plan here and then just buy what I need for the things I've planned to cook for the week. If I open a bigger bottle of something, like passata for example, and it needs using within a few days, I write that use-by date on it with a black marker. Then I see that whenever I open the fridge & am reminded to use it up. Meg:)

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  13. For us, the biggest thing is meal planning. I have a week set up on my iPad and each Saturday morning, I plan the following weeks meals firstly using what we currently have on hand and then making a shopping list based on the other stuff we need. The other thing is cooking for two meals at the same time and have it planned to eat the left over one a couple of days after it was made. We also pack all our vegetables in foil. We find it keeps better than plastic and we reuse the foil many times. We have a hand held vacuum devise with washable bags that we use for portioning and freezing meat. Have bought a dehydrator but have only made 'biltong' with it which works out well and is about 1/3 of the cost of store bought plus I know what was used to make it....no sugar.

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    1. Hi πŸ‘‹ Gail and Nick! I would love to know the specifics of how you 'have a week set up' on the iPad! Is there a good app or system you can recommend? Thx! Puccetta

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  14. Hi Rhonda and all,
    Brilliant topic for sharing our wisdom! One of my favorite tricks to avoid "losing" things in the back of the refrigerator is to keep a dated list ON THE DOOR of the fridge with all the bits of leftovers. That way I stay aware of what needs used and can either plan ahead or pop it into the freezer. As things get used, I simply cross them off. Thanks so much, everyone!
    Pauline in Upstate NY

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  15. I wonder how much waste we have here in the United States. I saw on a news show that since there more purchase done on line and increase in packaging.
    I try to be mindfull of it and recycle, reuse, and reprobse when when posiible. Coffee is on
    Coffee is

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    1. 130 billion pounds per year in a July 2016 report. Almost 80 percent said they feel guilty when throwing food away, but 51 percent said it would be difficult to reduce household food waste. And 42 percent said they don’t have enough time to worry about it.

      https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-07-22/america-wastes-160-billion-in-food-every-year-but-is-too-busy-to-stop

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  16. 1st time commenting. I always read the blog. I wrap celery and lettuce in tin foil reusing the foil again and again after washing. Also have begun using glass mason jars for celery sticks. It keeps them crisp for a full week. I also keep a compost bin going even composting egg cartons and toilet paper tubes. Using bits of this and that makes great soup. My grand mother did this and made great soups. Freezing milk and yogurt close to date in premeasured amounts is great for baking. Always room for improvement! Colleen in the usa

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  17. Great post to get ideas circulating.
    I use 'Bee Eco' wraps they are made by a local Sunshine coast family and really work well to keep fruit and vegies fresh for weeks.
    The Bees wax wraps are washable and seal really well, a great substitute for plastic.
    If you dont have room or time for a compost system a worm tower is a fantastic alternative for food scras, ...see 'My permaculture Life"

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  18. Hi Rhonda, as well as everything mentioned so far, we make an effort to share food so it can be used before rotting. This might involve produce swaps, or inviting people over for a meal, or taking some food to a neighbour. I also buy almost everything without packaging and I find this helps with managing food waste because the food I end up buying is very local and fresh, meaning it lasts a long time. And, I can choose exactly the amount of food I need and I don't have to worry about use-by dates encouraging me to throw food out.

    P.S. I've been trying to publish a comment for an hour as Wordpress and it keeps taking me back to the preview of the comment. This time trying Name/URL.

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  19. Great post and very timely. I've already enjoyed reading the comments.
    Now that I am living by myself, I grocery shop differently. I shop monthly for staples. Two of our biggest stores offer 10% days once a month so those are the days for my stock-up purchases. For perishables, I only buy enough for two or three days. For instance, I buy one package of meat and that is usually good for dinner and two nights of leftovers. I find that I have less waste this way.
    SJ in Vancouver BC Canada

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  20. Wash lemons or oranges in water no soap cut in half and freeze in bags or canning jars. Take out as many as you need for juice or cooking an hour before you
    need them.
    Patti

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  21. Some excellent ideas here. Two things I do, one successfully the other not so much; first if I do have leftovers, I do a "throw-together" meal where I combine one or two leftover meals into a new meal. Often turns out even better than the original dish. The second (not so successful it turns out) is to be realistic when shopping; as Rhonda says being realistic with what you grow, so it is with shopping. Two parts - do meal plan and shop from a list and don't buy food that you 'hope' to use in a dish that may or may not be in your meal plan. Inevitably it sits in the fridge/pantry. Money and resource wasted. Of course the chooks will usually love it, but that's expensive chook food.

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  22. No matter how good my intentions are there sometimes seem to be things in my pantry that I know aren't going to be used. My kids have "food fads". Lately, for instance, it has been a particular type of water cracker to eat with cheese. We were going through heaps of them so I stockpiled when they were on special. Now the fad has passed and I am left with multiple packets of crackers just past their use by date. Rather than throwing them out I'll take them to a local food charity.There are lots of churches and places like the Salvos and Anglicare that gratefully accept donations. So, although I did waste a few dollars in the first place,I still feel that I've avoided food waste and helped a charity at the same time.

    Love reading all these great suggestions:-)
    Dianne in Adelaide

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  23. Hi Rhonda
    Some great ideas here, many of which I am familiar with.
    I would like to add 'training' to the list. I have trained my family (to some extent). The hungry teen/preteen kids head to the fridge first to eat up leftovers when they get home from school. The whole family knows that I don't go to the shops until the fridge is empty and they are now trained to see 'potential' in the fridge rather than 'disappointment' at a nearly empty or uninspiring collection of odds and ends! They now know that I have it under control and with the addition of a pantry classic or lump of meat from the freezer, they won't go hungry!
    Looking forward to reading more :)
    Rachel

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  24. Hi Rhonda, I am so pleased you have started this and there are some excellent ideas here, and I am already doing some of them so I won't duplicate those. I will also add a few ideas to my blog to keep it going. I am pleased with myself that I remembered to take my own recyclable shopping bags to the supermarket this morning, I now leave them in the car, and I stuck to my shopping list. Progress! No plastic used in that expedition at all. We don't buy take away coffee at all except perhaps when we are travelling, and rarely go to local coffee shops as we buy the raw beans, roast what we need each time, grind them and make our own coffee. This isn't for everyone but it works for us. My husband loves doing it. I also have a few of my Mum's pure wool cardigans (vintage) which are still perfect to wear. We also swap a lot of excess fruit and vegetables with friends which is fun and rewarding. I freeze a lot of excess in various forms. Thanks for the suggestions, Pauline

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  25. Love all the suggestions!!

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  26. Hi Rhonda,

    I am loving this topic and everyone's tips so far. What I do is:

    - Meal plan every week, taking careful note of what I have in my pantry/fridge/freezer that need using up. I have made up a few lists of meals we love and have all the recipes stored in the one folder. Means we eat a variety of tasty meals without too much repetition.
    - Leave one night meal blank each week to use up anything I may have forgotten about (usually a Saturday). This night we (my 9yo daughter and I) get quite creative and we often come up with a new meal idea!
    - Having a stockpile cupboard is excellent (thank you Rhonda!). Knowing it is there is such peace of mind.
    - I shop carefully and try to only buy what is on my shopping list and what fruit and veg are in season.
    - Cooking a double batch of meals for the freezer. This also includes things like rice - I cook a big pot of rice then portion out and freeze as soon as it is cool. You can always throw some vegies and eggs in with some soy sauce and call it fried rice for a quick meal!
    - Taking leftovers as lunch. The envious stares I get in the office is wonderful!
    - Composting/worm bin/chickens for any scraps I do have. Sometimes I even buy the discounted fruit and veg for my girls.
    - I think that people need to move away from the idea of meat and three veg for most meals. We have had some super nourishing meals from just a salad, or random leftovers.
    - Get your kids in the kitchen! The earlier the better. My daughter is 9 and is quite a capable little cook. She is not a fussy eater and she understands flavours and combinations. We also talk about food budgets and how cooking from scratch is far cheaper. Having her involved from the meal planning stage, through to shopping and cooking means that she will grow up understanding how to feed herself well for little money (I'm thinking University days).
    - Gardening!! I try to grow as much as I can, but it doesn't always work out. Herbs are a big one for me to always have growing. Saves big $$ and the flavour is so much better.

    I think that is it! Can't wait to keep reading others ideas :)

    Sarah

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  27. This is so great!! One of the home preservation/food waste issues I've struggled with in the past was freezing extra foods - like eggs or vegetables - to deal with later when I had more time. And then periodically those foods languished in the back of the freezer, and weren't so appealing by the time I got to them! So what I do now is go ahead and actually cook up the excess into a meal or baked good, and freeze that instead of the individual ingredients. And I've found these extra loaves or bread or quiche or what have you get eaten up and enjoyed more readily. It is a bit of "short term pain for long term gain" as I have to plan for putting in the extra effort upfront, but it's been worth it for me.
    -Jaime

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  28. Hi Rhonda,

    Love reading all the tips here as well. A lot of these suggestions I already put into practise. I have a tip, however, for what to do with all the vegetable trimmings which make so much waste, when you aren't lucky enough to have chickens or a compost bin: make stock with it!

    I live in an apartment block and while there is a communal worm farm for tea leaves and egg shells and fruit and salad trimmings etc, it's too small to absorb all of the vegetable trimmings and onion peels - we eat a lot of vegies and I like to buy my green groceries in their whole form (cheaper and less packaging!).

    During the week, as I prepare meals, I'll separate all the onion skins and their root ends; leaves and root ends from celery, carrot, fennel and any brassicas; trimmings from woody asparagus, ginger, garlic, mushroom and hard herb stalks like rosemary and thyme - you name pretty much anything apart from the peelings from tubers like potato or skin from pumpkin - and keep adding them to a loosely covered container in the fridge.

    About once a week or every 10 days or so, I'll tip the huge amount into a colander and wash it all thoroughly and occasionally bin some mushy spring onion tips or pare around the dark edges of a celery base, and also chop down the cauliflower leaves and stalk or whatever might be too bulky, then put the whole lot into my stock pot with the usual peppercorns and a good shake of any out-of-date dried herbs that I am slowly going through and make a massive vegetable stock.

    The brown onion skins will make it the colour of tea and it is definitely what you would call a full-flavoured stock, depending on that batch's constitution, and you still have to bin the now cooked-down and reduced vegie trimmings, but the resulting few litres becomes what I use to cook rice, lentils, soup or casseroles. I'll still have a meat or chicken stock on the go as well, but the big vegetable stock makes me feel that we get some extra nutritional value out of our grocery purchases.

    Even if you are a diligent consumer of all the fresh produce you buy and make all of your meals from scratch, by setting aside all of the trimmings, it doesn't take long for an urban dweller to see exactly the volume of what our farmers grow, and then we buy at sometimes great expense, will be destined for landfill. It will still be the bulk of your weekly rubbish collection!

    Looking forward to more ideas.
    Vanessa in Sydney

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  29. A simple one for me - there are always three big ziplock bags in my freezer. One for chicken bones, one for vegie scraps (including things like carrot sticks that came home in lunchboxes, silverbeet stems, celery leaves etc) and one for fruit odds & ends (usually lunchbox rejects). The chicken bones & vegies get boiled together to make stock, which I bulk cook then freeze (the vegies then get composted). The fruit bits get stewed together then pureed, and the kids take this "applesauce" in tubs for recess.
    Bread crusts get frozen until I have enough to make breadcrumbs - I dry the bread out in the oven then blitz in the food processor. These keep for weeks in a container in the pantry.
    Husband and I always take leftovers for lunch if there are any.
    It's actually really rare to throw away food at our house - my mum was very frugal with food in terms of waste, and so it seems normal to me. I hope my daughters will grow up the same way!

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  30. Hi Rhonda, I do much the same as all the other commenters. I don't peel veg for stock though it goes in as is. I freeze leftovers to add to the stock that isn't eaten for a meal later. I save my eggshells and dry them in the oven and add to the garden. I bottle, freeze and have dried produce over the years but prefer frozen and bottled. I trade excess fruit and veg. And i do my best to reuse, recycle or upcycle other items. My partner fishes so we can get rid of other suspect fridge finds as berley which is most successful.

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    1. If I have salad for dinner and there is some left it gets used for the following day's lunch.

      Sad vegetables and pasta or potato leftovers can make a great frittata with the addition of some cheese - quick and easy dinner.

      On the subject of shopping "specials" for store cupboards. When you get them home, check dates carefully - I've noticed lately that some stores don't rotate the stock as well as they might. I bought several bottles of juice on special this week, which had an earlier date that what I bought last week. Still well into next year and it will be used before then, but worth checking these things rather than have wastage.

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  31. I make my own baby food but in larger lots then freeze in ice cube trays for two reasons, it's easier to get the right sized portion out and it defrosts quicker . After the first few weeks I end up with a really good selection of foods to mix and match . If I want pumpkin ,peas and chicken I put a few of each in her container for a beautiful homemade meal .

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  32. Hi Rhonda, this is a topic that I am very passionate about. We already do most of the above suggestions but I have another for you. When pineapples and passionfruit are cheap, we wash the fruits before skinning them and freeze the skins. When I have enough skins frozen, the peels are boiled up with water, sugar and citric acid and turned into 'free' cordial. It's delicious! The 'real' fruit is used fresh or made into jam. A very rough fruit skin cordial recipe is: skins and cores of two pineapples chopped up with the skins of 5-10 passionfruit chopped. Add two cups sugar and 2 heaped tsp citric or tartaric acid. Cover with about 4 cups water. Bring to boil, dissolving sugar, and simmer about 30 minutes. Allow to sit overnight and strain into bottles in the morning. Keep in the fridge. This has an amazing passionfruit and pineapple flavour and turns pink from the passionfruit skins. We offer the leftover cooked skins to the chooks to peck at and then put the rest into the compost.

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    1. Hi Leighlum, I've been wanting to try to do something with pineapple skins for ages as there seems so much potential. But when I asked the greengrocer about sprays likely to be on the skin, they advised to only try experimenting with "organic" fruit. I can't believe they would be that bad! Do you do anything special to the skin first to try to clean out the nooks and crannies? Vanessa

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  33. In an effort to reduce plastic use our local supermarkets have changed the bags they provide to put fruit and g in from plastic to biodegradable compostable ones , I am not too sure what they are made of but I is covered purely by chance that any veg in these keep a lot longer in the fridge and keep a lot fresher .

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  34. Things you might not consider freezing: If you have a glut of spring onions, they can be chopped and frozen and are perfect for adding to rice dishes, stir fries, quiche or savoury tarts. One year I had my Pak Choi mature very quickly in a hot spell and they also ended up in the freezer and store well this way.

    Surplus courgettes and tomatoes get made into a pizza topping with onions, peppers etc, which also doubles as a sauce base for pasta or a soup base and is easily frozen. One bread recipe I have is made by spreading this mixture, cooked until reduced and fairly thick, on to bread dough, so you end up with a loaf that has a spiral of "summer sauce" in the middle of it. If I am in a chutney mood, they turn up as a lovely red summer chutney.

    Grated courgettes also find their way into baked cakes, which they make beautifully moist.

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  35. The comments on this post fill me with optimism. I'm certainly going to try a few of the suggestions here. Great work everyone! Keep them coming. πŸŒΏπŸ„πŸ“

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  36. Instead of using freezer bags for fresh produce try using Peak fresh bags instead. I think that's what they are called. They are specially designed bags that will keep fresh fruit and veg for weeks. I haven't used them in years but I used to be able to keep broccoli super fresh for at least 4 weeks!
    I'm not sure how 'green' they are in terms of being biodegradable, I'd have to check the pack when I shop next, but they can be washed and reused over and over. They are far thicker than freezer bags so you don't get holes in the easily. When I used to use them they'd last at least a year and only cost about $4 for a box that had about half a dozen different sized bags in them (from memory).

    We do pretty well with food waste, although we could do better.
    Some ways we reduce food waste are:
    Turn old bread into breadcrumbs. To save on freezer space I toast the blitzed crumbs in the oven, blitz again and then they can be stored in a container in the pantry.
    I pop celery tops and parsley stalks in the freezer and use them when I make stock or cook a corned beef.
    I plan to use any leftovers we have. Often it's just for lunch but other times it's for another meal.
    Leftover gravies and sauces are put in the fridge for a couple of days to use or in the freezer to add to casseroles etc.

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  37. just a small suggestion here. I store a head of lettuce by putting it in a round metal container (industrial kitchen style) with a bit of water at the bottom. If the base of the lettuce is dry from the store, I cut a small slice to refresh it as it will drink the water much better. I have been using a head of lettuce very fresh and hydrated for about a week or two without problem.
    Herbs are stored in small vases with water and keep much longer like that.
    So many very useful ideas in the comments !

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  38. Great idea Rhonda. I too was shocked by the amount of food that is wasted in Australia At least once a fortnight I make a large batch of pasta sauce. In it I put any vegetables that are looking a bit tired. I've used broccoli, zucchini, tomatoes, capsicum and each time it has turned out delicious.

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  39. Leftover sandwiches used to be wasted here or fed to the chooks, they're not as nice the next day so now I just remove lettuce and then ham, cheese, tomato, chicken, fish pretty much any filling arrange the sandwiches in a greased ovenproof dish, pour over a custard, cream and beaten eggs, or homemade evaporated milk (made with full cream milk powder) pour over the sandwiches , sprinkle with fresh chopped herbs and grated cheese, cook about 180 degrees til custard is set. Makes a really nice meal with some salad leaves or vegetables. We found trying to toast small triangles a bit fiddly so this uses them quite efficiently.

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  40. This is going to be a hot topic Rhonda - great idea!

    1) Planned leftovers - Leftovers one night made into a different dish tomorrow night.

    2) Storing leftovers in glass jars so they're not forgotten.

    3) Using my dehydrator for garden produce

    4) Sharing garden harvest once each week in what I call a "Blessing Basket". I take it to my church class & share with others.

    5) Leftover veggies are used for soup for lunch the next day, just add some homemade broth.

    6) Celery life is extended by placing it in a glass jar with just a little water in the bottom, covering with a plastic bag. I watched my grandma do this when I was a kid - it lasts for weeks this way.

    7) Trimmings from most veggies are made into homemade veggie broth & frozen for later use.

    8) After trimmings are used for broth, the cooked trimmings are placed in the composter. Black gold for future veggie harvest!

    9) Extra bell pepper or onion is chopped & frozen for quick use for future cooking.

    10) Extra herbs are made into "Herb Bombs" by freezing minced herbs & olive oil in an ice cube tray. Great for sauteing veggies or making more flavorful rice.

    11) Milk that is reaching its expiration point is made into yogurt, then sweetened, flavored & made into frozen yogurt for a cool, sweet treat!

    12) Most importantly, eating our leftovers the next day stops lots of food waste. Our palates aren't so picky that they are bored so quickly. My hubby says "If it was good for supper last night, it'll be just as good tonight!

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  41. Leftovers are the big thing that can get wasted here. A few years ago I bought some small clear casserole type dishes with glass lids. It helps me quite a lot to be able to see what is in the fridge and when those 6 are full and there are no more in the cupboard I know we have to get them eaten but we rarely fill them all up since I can see the contents. This has almost eliminated throwing out leftover food here.

    The way that I rescue potatoes that need to be eaten is to peel and cube them and boil them in salted water just until they start to get soft. Drain and spread them on a baking sheet to cool. Then package and freeze them. They should be thawed in the fridge before browning in a little oil and they taste just like fresh.

    Some foods get canned here such as the apples sitting in the crisper drawer right now that no one is eating because it is summer fruits season. I plan to make apple sauce and can it before the week is over.

    Plastic clam shell packaging of lettuce really benefits from an paper towel in the package to absorb moisture.

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  42. We are fortunate to live in an area, southern New Mexico, where a lot of fresh foods are grown and processed such as jalapeno peppers, (capsicum), onions, pumpkins, watermelons, etc. I went to one of the onion fields and asked to purchase a bag but the farmer refused, he want to give it to me! Wearing my dog googles i chopped most of them up. I froze 18 qts and dehydrated 4 dehydrators full. A lady on another blog i read makes carmelized onions in her slow cooker, with 1 cube (1/2 cup) butter and heap onions in. Im not sure why it took 2 1/2 days to cook mine down. I had some Easter egg molds so i used those and froze them. Took care of all my onions, no waste at all! I cant wait for pepper season to come in!

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  43. I put a tea towel in the bottom of a lidded plastic container that I put my lettuce or my salads in. They stay fresh for a long time and I can just wash the towel to use again.

    One of the things that is so simple but handy is save the butter wrapper in the freezer to use to grease your pans when baking/cooking. There is usually enough residual butter to grease one pan, sometimes two if the butter was soft when I unwrapped it.

    I dehydrate lots of veggies (zucchini, pumpkins, onions, etc.), fruits and herbs, even beef jerky in a dehydrator I got for £15 off eBay. If you follow a search on an item, you can peruse the ads until you find an item in your price range. Some people sell things ridiculously cheap if they just want it out of their home. I always put my 'follow' searches for bigger items within 10-15 miles from me so I won't have to go far to pick up an item. Just be patient. Anyway, the dehydrator is a fabulous way to preserve food from the garden or when I find it reduced.

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    Replies
    1. I love the idea of using the butter wrappers to grease pans. Tick, another great tip I will be taking on.
      Thankyou.

      Delete
  44. I am trying to reduce food waste also and realised that bread is something that often doesn't get used up completely. I am thinking more carefully about the quantity I buy / freezing half a loaf etc but we still sometimes have leftover/ stale bread. My husband is not keen on bread and butter pudding so I have found a couple of savoury dishes using breadcrumbs which we both like- Glamorgan sausages ( no meat)
    and Little Cheese puddings - both from Jane Grigsons book English Food. I also sometimes make a big batch of parsley and thyme stuffing which freezes really well in its dry state and is lovely with roast chicken.

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  45. Terri from the blog bluehousejournal.blogspot.com puts her fresh strawberries in glass jars with a lid. Unwashed till you want to use them. They keep really nice in the refrigerator for a week that way she says. I am going to try it! She has given me many good tips through the years. Sarah

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  46. One of my go-to winter meals that turns into 3 or 4 days of lovelines: corned silverside for a Sunday roast. Retain some of the cooking water for silverside risotto the next day. Retain some of the cooked aborio rice for fried cheese/rice balls the following day. And any leftover baked veg from the initial bakeup gets blitzed into soup. Yum!!!

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  47. Recently I keep a crop of lettuce fresh by putting it in a bowl with a bottom of water. In the fridge. Keeps it fresh for at least two weeks.

    Also I've learned that you can freeze more than you think. F.i. I didn't know you could freeze egg white or mozzarella. Now I do.

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  48. We have a large family. Leftovers are kept in glass containers,labeled on one shelf at one side of the fridge. They are packed in a meal size, labeled needed heated or not. She I don't have to make lunches all the time and there is a rotation of meals going on.

    Lots of leftovers go into a meatloaf which is planned every two weeks.

    I dehydrate as well, making full packed meals, with cheeses, noodles and sauces and packaged. So the kids just need to boil water and they have a meal.

    Tuesday night menu is soup. We eat the leftover Saturday for lunch.

    Any snack from cheese, cut veggies , sliced fruit to homemade cookies are put as snack size in snack zippered bags in a container the the fridge. Kids can just grab what they want. When I pre-cut the fruits and veggies, they don't see the bruised bit I cut out, it just looks good.

    My dog eats vegetables.Chickens eat scraps. Pig eats scraps and I own three composters.

    We have a cold cellar ( live in Canada),, an upright freezer where I can see everything and staked each shel
    f by category. And I don't grocery shop until my fridge is near bare and washed out.

    I looked it up and Canadians waste 27% of their groceries. This was a few years ago. That was an Eye opener to me.

    My one daughter works at a grocery store. She says if they have produce that doesn't look nice they pitch it rather then sell 1/2 off. Before this chain was bought by a bigger company she use to bring it home. I canned so many flats of raspberries that didn't look good into the best jam. But store policy now it toss it, fear of someone getting sick. So people dumpster dive in the middle of the night now. Also the butcher throws all trimmings on the floor instead of giving to a farmer or human society it gets dumped. It's a messed up system.

    Lynaka

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  49. I truly feel as though nothing we have truly gets wasted food wise...if it is able to be eaten by our chickens, we toss it to them and they happily gobble it up...and if it isn't ~ we compost it and it turns it to beautiful dirt to use in our gardens! :) I try to only make as much food as we need at meals...and send any leftovers with my husband to work the next day for his lunch.

    Your tips about the garden veggies are great though! I have a feeling we are going to have WAY more zucchini than we will be able to use. We will probably give them to others who will put them to use! I can all our green beans and some of the corn we grow (then freeze some of the corn as well).

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    Replies
    1. We do the same thing with our chickens--they love it. :)

      We plan for leftovers here--either I make enough so that we can get another dinner out of a dish, or we eat it for lunch (quite often my husband will bring a little of this, little of that to work and get envious looks from his co-workers).

      Delete
  50. Hi Rhonda,

    Thanks for the tip about the comment icon. I didn't know about that! Yes, I'm a tad old fashioned about technology!

    I usually use suitable leftovers such as grilled chicken, cooked asparagus, baby potatoes etc. on top of salad. I also use them up by adding as a pizza topping, or in quiche. Many leftovers can be added to soup as well. I've switched to reusable shopping bags and recently found reusable produce bags for sale at the supermarket.

    Thanks for all your tips everyone!

    Marney

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  51. We had bubble and squeak for lunch today with the leftover veggies from last night's dinner, a bit of ham, an egg and some breadcrumbs thrown in. The kids LOVE it! We have saved the ends of celery and spring onions to sprout in water and then plant. Both work very successfully and you get a whole new plant out of them. Someone told me yesterday that it also works with lettuce and onion ends so will be trying those. It helps, I think, to keep a fairly empty fridge, so you can always see what is in there quite easily. I have also found that having a smaller freezer helps as things tend not to get lost so easily and keeps the electricity bill a little lower. Jamie Oliver wrote a wonderful cookbook called Save With Jamie. He starts off with a roast (beef, lamb, chicken and pork) then has a range of recipes that are absolutely delicious, to use up the leftovers. Also includes a recipe for pickling vegies. It is one of my most used cookbooks.

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  52. Hi Rhonda, I used to cringe at what was being peeled away from celery, pineapple, onions, yams/potatoes, certain lettuces, just to name a few until I read on Pinterest about regrowing from root scraps cut from the fruit or veggies. I have tasted a fresh regrown pineapple and was blown away by the flavor so I now start my own. Patience is definitely a virtue with pineapple though as it takes two years to produce. I have celery, onion, sweet potatoes all happily and healthily regrowing in my raised beds as we speak. After reading everyone's posts I will now be adding homemade veggie stock to the ways to salvage unused peels. Thanks all for the wonderful tips everyone.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Now that we are all mindful of food waste, we can turn our attention to energy waste. Microwave ovens can bake very nice cakes (see recipe book that comes with the oven) in 10 to 11 minutes using only a fraction of one kwh. For crisps and even cookies and biscuits, a small toaster oven can do the job with very little energy required.(see how often the light comes on and off to keep to temperature). Toaster oven is also perfect for reheating pizza or battered fish leftovers. I loved the tip about the pineapple cordial from 'waste' parts of pineapple; can't wait to try it. It is wonderful to hear from so many like minded, caring people.
    Rita in Canada

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  54. I have never really meal planned for any longer than 2-3 days. I prefer to buy what's in season and well priced then work through these as the week goes on. I feel my waste oiled actually be higher if I was buying particular ingredients for each meal which may not get fully used up before they wilt/expire and that we wouldn't always feel like eating what was on the menu plan.
    With herbs, I stand the cut ends into an inch or so of water in a jar or container, then cover the leaves and top of continued with a small freezer bag. They often stay really fresh for a couple of weeks, except basil which is still only a few days.

    ReplyDelete

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