I remember once, after a large-scale club sandwich preparation effort, my Great Grandmother swooped into the kitchen with a container, packed up the chicken carcass and bread crusts and announced that was tomorrow’s dinner taken care of.
It wasn’t an unusual thing for Grandma Enid to do – but as I write about food waste, I find it’s a memory that arrives in my thoughts. She had immense respect for the value of food. Nothing, and I mean nothing would go to waste, ever.
I’m not saying we all need to gnaw on chicken bones and bread remnants for dinner, but when you read some of the recent food waste statistics, it makes me feel like maybe we’ve lost our way a bit when it comes to our food.
Globally it’s estimated that up to one third of all food produced goes to waste. In New Zealand, we create enough food waste annually to feed the population of Dunedin for three years, and the average household throws out $560 of food that could have been eaten.
When we throw food away, it’s not just the impact of what we see, it’s everything that came before. It’s the water, fertiliser and energy that went into growing it, it’s the impact of the transport that got it to us, it’s that nasty methane gas that’s created if it ends up in a landfill…
But that’s enough of being a downer, let’s focus on the good stuff – the stuff we can do to make a difference. And the awesome news is, that it’s nothing strange or startling – it’s just a shift in our mindset. And even better, all these hacks will normally save you time and money too.
- Yestovers: Leftovers are one of the most common types of food that gets thrown out. At our place, leftovers are always lunch the next day, or they get popped in the freezer for a ready-to-go lunch or dinner when we don’t have time to cook. Just be sure to label it – once I took stewed apple for lunch thinking it was soup, I don’t recommend it.
- Make Do Meal: One night a week in our house is ‘make do’ night – a meal where we use up whatever is left in the fridge. It’s normally everything thrown on a pizza, but in winter my DejaFood soup is a favourite – you can find the recipe here.
- Love a list: When you go shopping, take a list. Yep not the most breakthrough idea, but it really works. It means you only buy what you need, and don’t forget things – which saves on those time-consuming top-up shops where we end up buying more than we need.
I keep my shopping list in the notes app on my phone. I have products listed in the order of the aisles, and it’s become a time-trial to see how quickly we can get around the supermarket – the kids love the thrill of the game, and I love the efficiency of it.
Food waste is a big deal, but tackling it doesn’t need to be. Simple changes make an awesome difference, and you’ll be surprised at how the time and money savings add up. I also find it sometimes helps to channel a bit of my inner Grandma Enid.