Meal Planning Tips for a Zero-waste Kitchen
Did you know that every year one out of five shopping bags of fruit, vegetables, and bread is put into the bin as a result of household and commercial food waste? Not only is this horrible truth for the environment and the world as so many go hungry every day, it’s also a horrible news for your pocket! Think about $150 wastage a week or over $1800 per year.
A Zero-waste kitchen may seem unattainable, but it’s actually all about planning.
Here are some of our best tips and tricks to help you extend the life of your groceries, reduce food waste and help the planet:
1. Make a grocery list and stick to it!
Refrain from over-buying. Make sure to only buy what you will need and actually use. Plan out meals for the week ahead, and only buy the ingredients you know you’ll need. You might have to check your pantry beforehand so you know what else you already have in stock at home.
You can also try making a shopping list a living and shared document (like a whiteboard, or a list stuck to the fridge) to track things as they run out.
2. Don’t forget to eat your leftovers within 48 hours if you can.
No judgement. We’ve all been here and for sure, there are poor, forgotten bowls of *insert whatever food* that got pushed back to the fridge and stayed there for more than a week- we’re sorry!
If you have leftovers from dinner, divide it and take to work as lunch the next day! This is a smarter way to ensure you’re eating proper lunch whilst saving your money and avoiding more plastic waste. Win-win!
3. Store your produce properly to extend their life
We know how sad it is to have those fresh produce spoilt before you actually plan on using or eating them. Now separate your fruit + veg in your fridge as it can actually help keep them fresher for longer! This is because certain fruits like apples, melons, pears, and stone fruits sometimes contain ethylene, a chemical which helps them ripen but can promote over-ripening in other produce.
You can also store them in Reusable Silicone Ziplock Bags and Ecoimpakt’s Silicone Stretch Lids to keep them fresher longer. They both provide an airtight seal. Or you can even use old glass containers and Tupperware to achieve similar effect. Storing your food in airtight containers helps produce that needs to stay moist to avoid going limp and dry (broccoli and beans) and produce that needs to avoid being too moist (like spinach, lettuce, and berries). Too much moisture can cause microorganisms like bacteria and mold to develop which speeds up the deterioration process. To combat this- include a tea towel or paper towel in the container to absorb excess moisture!
4. Use your fresh ingredients first before using prepared foods
Plan out your meals ahead of time. Some do it weekly or even monthly. Some may also check the weather forecast. It sounds insane but nobody would want to eat curry on a hot, balmy night.
Decide on what you’re going to cook and based it on how long each fresh ingredient will last. Some veggies can last forever when stored properly. We also know that as the week goes on, we tend to become lazier and will be in the mood to prepare something quick and easier like pasta or homemade pizzas. Keeping this in mid can make your meal planning and prep so much easier.
5. Salvage any sad produce into soups, stir-fry, sauces, or baking
You have to reimagine how you see your produce like overripe bananas make awesome banana bread or muffins, a soft tomato is perfect to turn it into pasta sauce, slightly soft berries are perfect to freeze for a smoothie! You can also freeze a lot of your vegetable scraps and turn it into a healthy veggie broth once a month or toss those veggies in the oven.
You can also try for some large-batch one-pot meals, for leftovers that you can freeze or even share with your neighbors or family. This is a fantastic way to save money and is crazy efficient, plus you get to share with your loved ones too!
There are so many ways you can keep reaping the benefits of your produce longer than you think! You just need to be more open-minded and be creative at it!
Do you have more ideas or methods that you use to avoid food waste? We would love to know!