Whether you’re a true chef or a novice cook, you may be curious about ways to save money and help the environment while in the kitchen. Ann-Kristin Afflerbach shares some tips on how to cut back on food waste and how to use food scraps in your home cooking. (PS: it’s easier than you think!)
I have recently set myself the goal of reducing my food waste. I like to cook and to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, but I used to throw away a lot of it. This is not only expensive in the long run, but also a shame because there is so much life left in most fruit and vegetable scraps. I have tried a few things to reduce my food waste and this is what actually helped:
Some fruits and vegetables produce ethylene. Ethylene is a chemical compound that is released by fruit and veg in a gaseous form and naturally helps them to ripen. Bananas, kiwis, and tomatoes are big ethylene producers, for example. Apples, carrots, and broccoli are highly sensitive to ethylene, so make sure you that don’t store them together in order to avoid spoiling. You can also use this to your advantage when you have fruit or veg that is not quite ripe enough – just store it with your bananas!
I used to throw away a lot of potatoes because they would always turn green; I stored them in a plastic bag somewhere in the kitchen, which clearly wasn’t a good idea. Potatoes, as well as onions and tomatoes, should be stored in cool and dry places, and even better, in dark spaces. I now put them in a paper bag and store them in a cool spot; it works perfectly!
Some vegetables are best stored in the fridge, such as salads and greens. You can keep them fresh by wrapping them in a paper towel and then storing them in a bag in the fridge. The paper towel makes sure that all moisture is absorbed. Moisture in general is a problem for vegetables since it promotes mould growth, so make sure you only put dry fruits and vegetables in your fridge! Don’t cramp the produce in your fridge either, as it will spoil more quickly.
Fresh herbs used to wilt in my kitchen a day after I bought them. This was incredibly frustrating to me, but as soon as I put them in the fridge in a small glass of water (just like a small flower bouquet) they lasted for ages.
Use of leftovers
Sometimes I don’t need a whole vegetable for a recipe, so I’m stuck with a lot of leftovers. I was never really sure what to do with them, but there are thousands of recipes that are perfect for leftover vegetables. Here are some ideas that I find really tasty:
- lasagna/pasta bakes/casseroles
- stir fry/fried rice
- roasted vegetables
Just throw the leftovers in; these meals work with basically every vegetable. You can even use all your scraps to make a delicious homemade broth, so that you won’t have to waste anything at all!
There are just as many options for fruits as for vegetables when it comes to leftovers. These are my favourites:
- baked goods, like crumbles or pies
- fruit-infused water
- frozen fruit ice cubes
If you’re feeling fancy, you can also try out some recipes for homemade facials or other beauty products.
My last tip on how to reduce waste and make the most out of the fruits and vegetables you buy is to plan your meals. It helps immensely to only buy what you need for the next two days, as the vegetables will keep fresh and the fruit will still taste good. This also works as a great excuse to take a study break since you will have to go to the supermarket a little more frequently!