Simple cooking habits to reduce waste


Reduce food waste in your home with a few simple changes.

Words: Lana Olson

Cooking your own food at home is one of the simple joys of life and has a great deal of economic and health benefits for you and your family. However, kitchen waste is a big contributing factor to the overall amount of waste we generate as a society, putting pressure on us to re-evaluate our behaviours while cooking so we can work towards something a little more sustainable and set a good example for our children.

Let’s take a look at some simple ways you can actively reduce the amount of waste you create while cooking at home, and take that extra step towards a zero waste kitchen.

BE EFFICIENT WITH YOUR KNIFEWORK

You might be surprised by how wasteful you are being when doing your routine chopping and dicing. Instead of worrying about cutting vegetables into even shapes, just cut them into a random assortment of bite sized pieces so that all of it ends up on the plate.

This isn’t just true for vegetables, as you can actually get a lot of more of the edible parts out of fruit if you are a little cleverer with how you cut them. For example, you’ll get more out of a tomato if you trim it around the stem rather than slice off the whole top.

FREEZE YOUR LEFTOVER HERBS AND LIQUIDS

A lot of the time you end up buying a huge bag of a specific ingredient when you’re trying to make a recipe that only needs a few teaspoons, and this is obviously wasteful. Herbs like parsley can be tricky because they wilt quickly, but this process can be slowed down if you freeze them immediately after use. This is also true for leftover liquids like coconut milk or broth. By freezing these ingredients, you can get a little more out of them before you need to stock up on more.

USE SCRAPS TO MAKE A STOCK OR SOUP

A common cooking practice for centuries has been to use leftover scraps of food to make a mouth-watering stock or soup. Making a stock is as simple as allowing all the scraps (include bones and gristle) to simmer in water for over an hour, infusing the liquid with flavour.

Create a hearty beef stock with leftovers and use it as a base for a winter stew or start here and go with a family favourite and make beef chilli con carne. Alternatively, check out this delicious dish.

The bonus is that you’ll end up with extra soups and stocks to work with, meaning you can save money while grocery shopping and in turn reduce overall food waste. This shows how when you minimise waste in one area it can have a trickledown effect in others.

STICK TO THE RECIPE INSTRUCTIONS

If you want to reduce kitchen waste, then it’s important for you to measure ingredients properly and follow the recipe instructions to the letter. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – so if you follow recipe steps carefully from the start, you won’t make as many mistakes and will end up with less waste.

Don’t only trust your eyes when measuring, especially if you aren’t a highly experienced cook. Modern scientific cooking instruments exist to make it easier to be as accurate as possible and minimise waste – don’t hesitate to take advantage of them!

RECYCLE AS MUCH AS YOU CAN

We can’t talk about reducing waste while cooking without recommending you start making compost. After all, compost is the single best way to recycle everything that comes out of your kitchen you don’t plan to cook with. Eggshells, rotten fruit, mouldy bread – it can all go into the compost (however make sure you are aware of the few kitchen scraps you cannot use in compost).

Lana Olson is a passionate writer and food enthusiast. She has a heartfelt interest in food and nutrition. Some of her greatest joy comes in helping others improve their healthy lifestyle. Lana is a regular writer and news editor for Chillout Radio. When she isn’t working, Lana enjoys listing to great music or an active lifestyle outdoors (often with a dog) and she regularly reads books of all sorts.

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NZ Life and Leisure    NZ Lifestyle Block
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