Did you know that Aussies throw out a combined 4,000,000 tonnes of food each year? That equates to a whopping 345kg per household, and $1036 down the drain annually!
Whilst popping your unwanted fruit and veggie scraps in the compost bin is better than seeing it end up in landfill, the best way you can help tackle food waste is to stop it going to waste at all.
Aside from buying less and storing your food correctly, conscious cooking can go a long way in tackling waste within our own homes.
Whilst ‘Tip to Tail‘ eating has become a mantra between meat eaters, it’s time to give our veggies the love they deserve.
With leaves, stems, stalks and skins of vegetables offering their own unique tastes and textures, cooking with the WHOLE piece of produce is like getting multiple veggies in one package.
And for those who stop twice at the price of Certified Organic food, putting every part of your produce to use will not only make your money go further, but make your body feel all the better for sneaking in those extra nutrients too!
Here are some easy ideas to inspire you next time you go to fill your food bin:
Stock up for Stocks!
Save any veggie cuts (think ends, tops, stems, leaves and skins) and pop them in your freezer for your next stock cook off! When the time comes, add your off-cuts to a pot with celery, onions and water, season with herbs and spices, bring to the boil and simmer for at least half an hour. Strain and store until you’re ready to use in your next soup, stew or sauce.
Blitz ’em up!
If it’s green, it’s gonna be great in pesto. Hang on to carrot tops, beet leaves, and radish ends, and throw into a food processor with your choice of oil, nuts and cheese. We love making a zesty pesto with leftover parsley, walnuts, olive oil, parmesan and a big squeeze of lemon to use for lunches over the week.
Similarly, experiment with flavours and whiz up your own homemade hummus, which you can then us to dip with any other raw veggie off cuts! Our last kitchen creations included a beautifully pink beet and ricotta blend, as well as a spicy roasted capsicum!
Rather than discarding tough stems from your kale, chard or arugula, why not dice them up and cook them down with a garlic and oil, or generous knob of butter?
Toss with toasted nuts and currants for a delicious side dish, or mix with grains for a satisfying lunch.
Similarly, leaves from veggies like cauliflower and broccoli taste great thrown into stir fries.
Get yourself in a Pickle
Making your own homemade relishes and pickles is easier (and tastier!) than you may think! To make a simple pickle, pop any raw veggie cut-offs you have to hand (usually fennel, carrots, cauliflower and capsicum in our house) in a mason jar with a simple vinegar and oil brine (we love adding yellow mustard seeds, peppercorns, red pepper flakes and dill to ours). Then simply set aside for 24 hours and store in the fridge!
Save your Skins
Whilst we love roasting our veggies with their skins on, if your preference is peeled, then hang on to those skins and make your own healthier chips to snack on. Toss peels in olive oil and your choice of seasoning and cook in the oven ’til brown and crispy.
Oodles of Noodles
Instead of tossing broccoli and cauliflower stems once they’ve been de-floreted, grab your peeler and shave their stalks into thin ribbons that taste great raw or lightly cooked. If your stems aren’t long enough to make strands, shave them down and dress for a delicious slaw salad.
Add some Zest
Earn extra admiration from your guests and give your drinks and desserts some extra pizzazz by bringing citrus from unused peels to your dinner party dishes.
You can even infuse your own spirits (or water, we guess…) with fresh fruit and vegetable peels, and garnish cocktails like a professional too!
Dry ’em out
If you’re lucky enough to own a dehydrator, than you have direct access to your very own healthy snacking machine! From fruit leather to veggie chips, spend a Sunday food prepping and enjoy nutritious nibbles all week!
You can even make your own vegetable powders to add to smoothies, soups and sauces by blitzing your dehydrated produce in the blender.
If you’re yet to invest, then you can dehydrate your own fruit and veggies by slicing them up, spreading them on a tray, and putting in the oven on its lowest heat setting for 6-8 hours.
Next time you’re roasting up pumpkin, hang on to those seeds and add some crunch to your salads!
When it comes to other inedible seeds, why not repurpose them in the best way possible and plant them in your own backyard?
We hope that these ideas inspire you to make use of every last inch of your produce. Have some ideas of your own? We’d love to to hear them! Head to our Facebook Group and share them with your fellow members.