How to be food waste free

I really dislike the term 'food waste' as I don't think it's very accurate.

How to have zero edible food waste
At home, we waste no edible food as we eat everything that we buy.  Fruit and vegetable peelings (if not eaten) can all be composted at home.  If you don't have a garden or compost yourself, ask a friend if they would like it for their compost - keep the contents in a bucket with a lid and swap each week with your friend, (you'll need two buckets between you).  Cooked food, (even dairy, meat and fish) can be industrially composted as the process involves higher temperatures and it is kept away from vermin and this is what some local authorities do with their collections.  In other areas, it is sent for anaerobic digestion to produce energy.  The only things that go in our food waste caddy are inedible cooked items, eg roasted garlic skins, cooked bay leaves or cooked corn on the cob cobs  (too many cs in that sentence!)

Spend more money in order to save
I do think that the more you spend on your food, the less likely you are to waste it and I have a 'great relationship' with organic produce.  I feel that if someone has taken the care to grow the food in a way that benefits the earth and our bodies, then I should give it the respect it's due and make sure it all gets eaten.  There are lots of things that you can do to maximise every morsel.  Here are some ideas. Apologies in advance if some of these tips either seem a bit obvious if you're already doing them, or a bit OTT if you're not, but zero food waste means exactly that to me and I like to share.

Use the tops and tails of your carrots, celery and onions
We now keep a bag in the freezer for 'tops and tails'.  Using organic veg, the majority doesn't get peeled, (potatoes, carrots, beetroot etc), but the ends of carrots, celery, broccoli, courgettes, spring onions etc all go into the freezer bag along with any tough or outer onion skins. This way, when we make stock, we don't need to use a new carrot / onion etc.  None of it is wasted after the stock either (see dog treats below). This picture shows the contents of our freezer bag at the moment.

How to buy chick peas
I buy dried pulses in bulk.  When I cook them, I do a very large batch and then freeze them in small portions.  I find this as easy as opening a can but less wasteful because sometimes I just want a handful, not a whole tin.  I prefer the texture of dried pulses and there are no additives either.

Whether you buy your pulses in cans, or cook them yourself - don't throw away the water that they arrive / are cooked in - it's called Aquafaba and has several other uses.  I used some recently when making pastry.

Rinse out tins to use every part and clean them too
Needless to say, rinse out your tins of tomatoes or coconut milk and your jars of passata or mustard, swill them round with boiled water (take care) and add it to your dish - this way you're not wasting anything and they will barely need a clean before being recycled, (bonus).

Never waste bananas 
Apparently, bananas are one of the most wasted fruit.  Don't ever throw away over-ripe bananas, even if  if you don't like them - they make The Best smoothies - in fact the riper the better - even if the skins are black.  Just whizz one or two with some milk / milk substitute and a teaspoon of cocoa powder.  I like to add some oats as well which sounds wrong, but makes a really thick smoothie and increases he nutrients and makes it more filling. Delicious!

How to use every grain of rice
If you make perfect rice, there shouldn't be any waste, but if there is ever a layer on the bottom of the pan, add a little clean water and leave it to soak.  The water will be absorbed by the rice and will lift easily making the pan a doddle to clean.  Put the rice in a pot in the freezer and add it to the next stew or soup you make.  Zero waste.

How to save houmous 
A few weeks ago, I was looking at some houmous that I had made and had put in the fridge a couple of days before.  I didn't fancy anything cold, then I had an idea.  I popped it into a saucepan with some stock and a piece of preserved lemon.  I heated it up and served it up with some fresh herbs and home made bread - houmous soup was born and will become a regular occurrence as it was lovely!

Make your own stock (and then dog treats) 
If you are going to eat meat, buy organic, ethically produced meat and don't waste a thing.  For example if you roast a chicken, afterwards use the bones to make stock - simmer gently in water with your veg tops and tails, add a bay leaf, some thyme and a few peppercorns.  After around three hours on the lowest/slowest heat, drain the contents and set aside for your risotto / curry / other dish. Next, discard the bay leaf and the harder bones, (unless you have a pressure cooker, or if you're lucky enough to have a Thermomix - then you can use all the bones)  Add a little water, whizz the remaining contents: any flakes of meat, a little skin, all the vegetables - apart from the onions, the softer (knuckles etc) bones and any offal.  You'll end up with a pâté type purée that you can turn into dog biscuits by adding some flour and baking, or just add a dollop to dried dog food.   Dog pâté anyone?  The only exception is turkey - please be careful with this as it can upset the tummies of some dogs - if you know what I mean ;)

Why metal skewers help to save energy
Skewers are great for BBQs, but they are also good for cutting the time you need your oven switched on for. We use them for baked potatoes (of any size) and also to cook beetroot.  Generally, we don't put the oven on for just these things, but if it's on anyway, then we may add them.  Using metal skewers significantly reduces cooking times.

Use every part of the plant - even the stalks and leaves
Beetroot leaves are good in salads or can be cooked and eaten like spinach and the stalks can be fermented.  Here's a picture of the beetroot and chard stalks that I recently fermented. They look a bit dull here, but taste great, especially with the fiery addition of some chilli flakes to the water.

There are so many more tips for the kitchen, this has become part one.  Please send me any questions, or ideas for blogs you'd like to read.


  1. Quick question about "Tops &Tails" bag. How long can you keep this in the freezer? Thank you

    1. Thanks for your question. Ours are usually turned into stock within a couple of weeks, but I would imagine that they would be fine for six months.


Post a Comment