The top three food items that most commonly end up in the bin are bread, bagged salad and fresh vegetables. And in Australia alone, 7.3 million tonnes of food is wasted each year. This wastage equals about 300kg per person or one in five bags of groceries.
Frustratingly, 53 per cent of that waste happens in our homes, hence why Jamie Oliver, an ambassador for Hotpoint, is supporting the brand’s Fresh Thinking For Forgotten Food campaign.
The idea is to encourage people to get to grips with leftovers, and realise their taste potential.
Here are some tricks and tips to cut food waste in your kitchen.
1. Think outside the (bread) box. Bread is one of the things we waste the most, but it can be used in so many ways; in bread pudding, bread sauce, in stuffing. Mr Oliver’s wife Jools loves pangritata – crispy breadcrumbs made using stale bread, flavoured with garlic and thyme, which Italians often use to top pasta, in place of cheese, which can be expensive.
2. Be patient with veg. A lot of vegies end up in the bin when they look past their best, but often, they’ve still got loads of flavour. “Working on a veg stall, you’d see the Brits come out in the morning to buy the fresh, firm tomatoes. But my boss, at the end of the day, would give the tomatoes away,” remembers Mr Oliver, “and you’d see the Portuguese, the Italians, the Greeks come out, because they’d know that by the end of the day, they were ripe.”
3. If in doubt, make pesto. “It’s so easy, so delicious, even my kids make it,” says Mr Oliver. It’s a great way to use up leftover herbs, and can be made with practically any nuts you have to hand.
4. Save every last bit of pasta. Don’t chuck out random little bits left in the bottom of a packet, add them all to one jar. “That’s my soup pasta jar for minestrone – it’s kind of beautiful.”
5. Freeze cheese. “My cheese drawer can be a bit random,” says Mr Oliver, “so once a week or so, I grate all those random bits and put them in the freezer together.” It makes for a great cheese medley to top mac and cheese or lasagne.
6. Make ice blocks. “Give a kid a brownie and 15 seconds later they want another one – same with cookies – but an ice block can keep a kid busy for 12 minutes! And they’re satisfying.” Mr Oliver is forever pouring leftover smoothie mix into plastic ice block moulds.
7. Freeze any herbs on the turn in ice cube trays, in oil, to then add to dishes while you’re cooking. “They’re little flavour bombs.”
8. Got a glut of chillies? “You can grate frozen chillies direct into the pan for a spice hit.”
9. Invest in Ziplock freezer bags: “You want your freezer working really hard.”
10. Repot supermarket herbs you’ve bought so that they can grow, to save splurging on bagged herbs. “Just divide them into separate plants and give them some fresh soil.”
11. Pickle and jar leftover veggies. Also, “pickling liquor can be reused, or even used in place of your usual vinegar when dressing salads”.
Which foods do you tend to waste the most? Why not share your tips for reducing food waste in the comments section below?
– With PA
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