Wasted

I have written previously about my love of food, recipe books, and cooking shows. I love trying new dishes. I find the process of preparing and cooking a meal very calming – you prepare your ingredients, you follow the instructions, and you produce something delicious to eat. I always have a weekly menu plan, written on one of my beloved whiteboards. I find this useful in three ways: it makes grocery shopping easier, I can ensure we are eating a nice balance and variety of foods, and I am not asked seven thousand times what we’re having for dinner.

I have never considered myself to be an extravagant shopper, however, I found myself questioning this after last week’s grocery shop. My fridge, my freezer, and my pantry were stuffed with food. So. Much. Food. An embarrassment of food. And I felt heartily ashamed of myself. So, whilst contemplating this week’s menu, I decided to challenge myself. I would use as much of the food I currently had in my kitchen, and buy as little as possible.

To further inspire myself, I did some research regarding food waste. Here are just three inexcusable statistics:

  • Australians throw away $8 billion worth of edible food each year.
  • 20% of the food we purchase for our households is binned.
  • Despite this, 2 million Australians still rely on some form of food relief. 

I am a huge fan of OzHarvest, Australia’s leading food rescue organisation. Its founder and CEO, Ronni Khan, says: “It’s a paradox that we produce enough food to feed all seven billion of us, yet so much goes to waste, while so many continue to go hungry.”

I am also a huge fan of Sarah Wilson, she of I Quit Sugar fame. She is passionate about ending food waste, and is an ambassador for Love Food Hate Waste, a NSW Government initiative. Its website is a fantastic resource of ways to reduce food waste. Sarah herself has written extensively about the issue on her blog, and her book, I Quit Sugar For Life, has lots of recipes using leftovers and scraps, as well as ways to extend one meal, such as a roast chicken, into several.

So, what have I done so far?

1 – Beginning with yesterday’s weekly shop, I spent $90.27, easily half of my usual spend. About $20 of this went towards non-food items (eg laundry liquid, a plunger to unblock my sink, all very glamorous stuff). The rest was spent mainly on fresh fruit and vegetables, plus good bread, butter, parmesan, milk, and gravlax (my weekly indulgence). This week’s menu whiteboard:

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2 – We enjoy snacking on carrot sticks and hummus. I bought a bag of carrots on special and made my own hummus in three minutes using ingredients I already had:

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3 – I used an extra pot of Greek yoghurt I found lingering at the bag of the fridge to make some labneh:

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4 – Last night’s dinner was a tuna pasta bake made with ingredients I already had, including the sneaky addition of thawed frozen spinach and pureed cauliflower.

5 – The night before, I used up most of the vegetables from the previous week’s shop, some noodles, and an improvised (and bloody delicious!) sauce to make a stir fry using a dash of various oils and sauces from the bottes in my pantry.

6 – This morning, breakfast was buckwheat pancakes topped with my labneh and gravlax.

7 – Shamal loves iced coffee, and I buy him a bottle in the weekly shop if it’s on special. This week? I have saved coffee from our morning plunger and will make it myself:

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I have lots of meal ideas for the rest of the week – I shall keep you posted!

My next challenge? To spend even less on groceries next week …

I’d love to hear your stories and ideas concerning the fight against food waste. Please feel free to share here!

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16 responses to “Wasted

  1. That is why Italians shop everyday for the freshest and best on offer and in season. No waste. We have become so American in our shopping habits – malls, supermarkets, giant fridges, prepackaged goods, meals that are frozen, dehydrated, in cans and bottles. Can these possibly be as tasty as freshly caught, picked and bought that day? Well done Kate!

    • It is such a wonderful approach. Fresh fruit and veggies I will never comprise on, but, of course, the key to combining thrift and quality is buying seasonally, as you pointed out. Part two will be up tomorrow … stay tuned, and grazie mille x

  2. Love this concept Kate! Raced home one night last week with no time to buy the planned Woolies chook to share before dashing out again and made coleslaw with chorizo on rolls in a snap – everyone loved it and fought over the leftovers for lunchboxes! Who knew my fridge could yield such a bounty! I’ll take on your challenge – would love to be doing this more each week.

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