Be honest. How much food do you throw out on a weekly basis? I’m not judging here – I ask because it’s an issue I face on the regular. After one too many soggy bags of lettuce and (seriously) potent smelling black-spotted bananas, and I’ve been working on some ways to avoid food waste.
Figuring out how to waste less food has a bunch of benefits. Personally, you save more money – and I find that a pretty big incentive.
On a bigger scale, you save a lot more than money. The food we waste is sent to landfills, where it rots and produces methane gas. I learnt recently that this is the second most common greenhouse gas, contributing hugely to climate change. Wasting food wastes a huge amount of water too – something else one wouldn’t expect. According to the World Resources Institute, 24% of all the water we use for agricultural purposes is lost through food waste every year. That’s roughly 170 trillion litres – an amount I can’t conceptualise. Talk about a ripple effect.
Keeping the right foods grouped together will help them last longer, and you'll avoid unnecessary food waste. Potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, cucumbers and onions shouldn’t be refrigerated – keep them at room temperature. Foods like bananas, avos, tomatoes, melons, peaches and pears produce more ethylene gas than others. Keep them apart from other foods (especially apples, leafy greens, berries and peppers) so they don’t spoil prematurely.
“Out of sight, out of mind” applies to storage too. An overly full fridge is a recipe for food waste. Try the FIFO method, which stands for “first in, first out”. For example, if you buy a new tub of yoghurt before the one in the fridge is done, put the older one in front.
FREEZE FRESH HERBS – AND OTHER THINGS!
These are one of the easiest things to kill and waste in the fridge unknowingly. Freeze them in an ice tray with coconut oil and you will always have healthy oil and herbs on hand. This applies to so much fresh produce too. If some of your veggies are looking worse-for-wear, cook them immediately and freeze them.
BUY FROZEN TOO
Your freezer is your refuge against waste. Frozen veggies beat chilled ones when it comes to shelf life – and they usually don’t contain preservatives either. They’re also cheaper!
GET A PLAN TOGETHER
A rough idea of the meals you’d like to make in the week will go along way towards reducing waste. I know, I know, it’s a bit of a hack on a glorious Sunday afternoon, but well worth the 10 min of your time!
OVERRIPE DOESN’T MEAN IT’S OVER
Overripe fruit like apples and pears work well in gravy, and peaches and mangoes add flavour to fruity stews. Lots of your imperfect, mushy, blackened or ageing bits and pieces can be blended into oblivion with other ingredients.
Here’s one of my favourite ways to use bananas when they’re beyond eating plain:
Vegan Superfood Banana Bread
Makes 1 large loaf
- 3 large bananas, mashed
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- 2 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
- ½ cup maple syrup, xylitol syrup, agave or honey
- 1 tbsp vanilla essence
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, unfiltered
- 2 cups out flour
- 2 scoops Vanilla Super Scoop
- 1 tsp bicarb
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp chia seeds
- Optional: 2 tbsp coconut sugar
- Preheat oven to 180°C and spray a regular loaf tin with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Add the bananas, coconut oil, almond milk, sweetener of choice, vanilla essence and vinegar to a blender and blend until smooth.
- In a bowl, add the oat flour, superfoods, bicarb, baking powder, cinnamon and chia seeds. Stir together.
- Make a hollow in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour the banana mixture into it. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, being careful not to overmix.
- Pour into the prepared baking tray and top with a sprinkle of coconut sugar, if you’re using it.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Turn the oven off but allow the banana bread to remain in the oven for a further 10 minutes. This will help to prevent it from sinking once removed from the oven.
- Allow to cool fully before slicing.
(If honey is used, note that this dessert will not be considered as vegan.)
Are these ideas you’ll be trying at home? How do you avoid wasting food?