This COVID-19 crisis has really highlighted the importance of making your food go a long way. Now that my whole family is at home together I’m finding it way harder to keep up with the amount of food we’re going through. It seems like a lot of people are having the same issues so I thought I’d share a few of the ways I keep our foods stocked up, meaning less waste, less spending and way less cooking time.
Firstly, some facts that will help to provide some background as to why less food waste is important. Sorry to those who have already read this on my instagram but I thought it was worth mentioning again.
Australian households throw away 2.5 million tonnes of edible food each year – that equates to nearly 300 kilograms per person!
The average Australian household sends roughly 4.9 kilograms of food waste to landfill each week.
In Australia, 7.3 million tonnes of food is lost or wasted each year. Of the 7.3 million tonnes of food that is lost or wasted, 1.2 million is recycled, 2.9 million is recovered, and 3.2 million is sent to landfill – enough to fill 5,400 Olympic sized swimming pools!
75% of all food that is sent to landfill comes from our households.
Up to 25% of all vegetables produced never leave the farm.
So where does 7.3 million tonnes of lost or wasted food come from? Households are the biggest contributors (34%), followed by primary production (31%) and manufacturing (24%)
Food waste also plays a role in harming the environment. Rotting food in landfill produces methane, which is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. For every tonne of food waste in landfill, a tonne of CO2-e greenhouse gas is generated.
When we waste food, we also waste the natural resources that go into making it, like land, water and energy.
1,460 gigalitres of water is used annually to grow Australian produce that is thrown out.
In fact, it takes 50 litres of water to produce just one orange.
The economic cost of food wastage in Australia is estimated at more than $20 billion per year.
(These food waste facts are from the Foodbank website)
“Banana’s being dumped because they are too big, too small or too curvy to sell!”
Pretty eye opening hey? These stats make me extremely committed to not throwing ANY food away. Being prepared is a really good way to stop this.
Tips on cutting down waste and staying healthy
Double it, Triple it!
This is the most helpful step I take that makes the biggest impact on my weekly workload in the kitchen. Always double (or even triple) up when cooking. If I’m making bolognese, a curry or slow cooked stew/casserole, I triple it. This means 2 nights of the week I don’t need to cook – I love those nights!! Any extras, pop them in the freezer for another lazy day. Sometimes I even use the bolognese for breakfast and poach an egg in it.
Leftover dinner makes for a great breakfast!
If I’m making a roast chicken, I roast 2 chickens and shred one of them to leave in the fridge for lunches. If i’m stir frying veggies I double the amount of veg and keep it in a container in the fridge to use for breakfasts or lunches.
Having this organisation means I’m less likely to make last minute decisions to eat out or have something unhealthy, and it also means when the kids are “starrrrrving” there’s always something nutrient dense in the fridge for them.
Meal Prep + Planning
Meal prep is another great way to lessen your workload. Sometimes it feels hard to commit to an hour or two per week in the kitchen to do some bulk cooking or meal prep but in the end it saves you so much time throughout the week. I like to spend a couple of hours on Monday each week preparing some food for the week ahead. I usually bake a tray of roast veggies, slow cook some meat, make a sweet of some sort and fry up some chicken all at the same time meaning I have a fridge full of options.
I find that meal planning really helps. When I have a plan, not only does it stop me from those “what’s for dinner?” thoughts constantly rattling around in my brain taking up valuable space, but it also stops me from eating out or making unhealthy choices because it’s become too late and I can no longer be bothered working it out. I usually write out a loose plan for the week (sometimes even a month if i’m feeling super organised). I don’t always stick to it but it really helps me to know what to shop for so I’m not buying things I’ll end up throwing out.
Cheaper cuts and buying bulk
Eating well and feeding a family can definitely be expensive so any way to save money is always helpful. Buying cheaper cuts of meat is a great way to save. Buying cuts like chuck steak are super cheap and perfect for the slow cooker. A slow cooker is actually a really good way to save money because no matter what cut of meat you get slow cookers seem to deliver deliciously tender meat every time. You can also double up your meals really easily. I always make a big beef stew, freeze half of it and then have it over either mash potato and sweet potato, or over steamed veggies.
Storing your leftovers
Instead of throwing food away, make sure you have a dedicated place in your fridge to store leftover foods so none of them get accidentally forgotten about. Go through your fridge twice a week to find out which fruit and veggies are becoming overripe and in need of being used asap and work out how to use them. If you struggle to think of ideas, just google the foods you have eg. “broccoli, zucchini, chicken recipes”
Here are some ways I shared on my instagram recently to reduce food waste:
Stale bread can be turned into breadcrumbs (and frozen if not needed yet)
Leftover porridge can be turned into pancakes another day (simply add banana, an egg and cinnamon and blend it up)
Over ripe bananas can be frozen and used in any baking (banana bread, pancakes etc) or even blended to make ice cream. My kids just like eating whole frozen bananas (they taste like banana paddle pops!)
Leftover veggies can be stored in the fridge and used another day in a frittata, curry, casserole, or just a fry up with some bacon and eggs (is this called bubble & squeak?)
Fruit and veg sticks not eaten by kids can be frozen and go into smoothies or stock
Leftover smoothies can be turned into icy poles or ice blocks
Leftover meat and veg can be put into rice paper rolls or sushi wraps
Ageing veggies can be frozen and used to make bone broth/stock. It’s actually a good idea to store all veggies scraps (think carrot tops, onion skins etc)in the freezer to use in broth/stock-so little waste!
Once a week go through your fridge, pull out any food you need to get rid of and google recipes (eg. mushrooms, spinach, pumpkin recipes)
Start a compost!!!! This is the BEST way to get rid of food waste.
After cooking a roast chicken, keep the leftover carcass and make bone broth. I have attached a recipe link for bone broth for you to try.
I hope this helps you to feel like you’re not constantly slaving away to cook meals that don’t seem to go very far. I used to feel like I would spend hours cooking and the meals would be woofed down in 5 minutes with little appreciation for the time or effort it took me to make. It’s taken me years to learn how to cut down my cooking time and even writing this has reminded me of strategies that I seem to have recently forgotten.
If you’re ever stuck for ideas, I love talking about cooking so feel free to hit me up.
Analeigh – Health Coach