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Reducing Food Waste for Time Poor Families

Ok, so we all know that there are benefits of living more sustainably and reduction in food waste is a piece of this puzzle. We also know that this isn’t always easy for all families to fully implement in all facets of their life. What if we all adapted in small ways? The summation of parts starts to make great headway.

Reducing food waste doesn’t have to take up lots of brain capacity and in this blog, we wanted to share our top 5 super easy tips to help you get on your way. Here’s a mind-blowing fact to get you thinking. Approximately 45% of household waste and 30% of all the waste we throw away is organic and compostable. Organic waste in landfill breaks down and releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas. This anaerobic process contributes to groundwater pollution as the acid liquid leachate is released.

Instead of the first place for your food waste being the bin why not try implementing one or more of these super easy food waste reduction hacks.

1. Worm farm

Worms are amazing creatures. These living fertilizer tubes are full of countless beneficial bacteria and enzymes that help sustain the life and fertility of our horticultural and agricultural systems. Worms dig and aerate the soil, allowing more water to soak in.

When living in your worm farm, worms will eat up to 3-4kg of your kitchen waste every week, then turn it into worm castings (rich plant food) and worm tea (liquid fertilizer) that can be used to improve the health of your garden.

Keeping a worm farm is fun for the whole family and a great way to get everyone involved in nurturing the environment and making your home more sustainable.

Many local councils offer a subsidised rate for worm farms, and they are great for people with or without much space including apartment dwellers. The farms take a whole range of foods including things like eggshells and coffee grind. Then the bonus is they break down the food waste and great "worm tea" which is awesome in helping plants grow.

2. You want fruit with that?

Invariably when you open the kids lunchboxes from day care or school, you will find that your kids have half an apple, or some left over fruits still floating around. Tempting to throw right into the rubbish bin, right? Ah yes, but why not bag it and throw it in the freezer instead? It won’t take long to accumulate enough to whip up a zesty apple sauce or home-made apple pie. Bananas and berries and other seasonal fruits are great for smoothies!

It could be a little task your kids can be delegated with. They remove the fruit, place it in the appropriate container and look forward to a 2nd round of fruit intake in a new format. If they are invested in the process, then they will learn the value of recycling as they grow.

Not only will you share the love and options, but you will also save waste and money with such diversity.

3.  Stock it to me baby!

Having homemade stock on hand is always a nice thing to have. It is richer in flavour, healthier and far less expensive than store bought varieties. You can use it in sauces, soups, gravies, casseroles, and risotto to name a few.

Off-cuts and scraps of veg and herbs – can be thrown in a suitable container and popped in the freezer. Build it up until you have enough and make vegetable stock.

Note:  some vegetables are not recommended for stock because their flavour, colour or consistency tends to overpower – for example - broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, beets (colour), potato (too starchy).

Carrots, celery, mushrooms (including stems), garlic, leeks, onions, shallots, tomatoes, peppers are great options. When making your stock, work on a ratio of 2 parts vegetables and 3 parts water (cold). Add spices to your personal taste, or those which will enhance your dishes, such as pepper, coriander, bay leaves, cinnamon etc.

Bring to the boil and simmer until cooked to a consistency that will be easy to blitz. Strain liquid into a bowl/pot and then blitz vegetables and spices, then add those to liquid and stir thoroughly for your finished stock. Voila!

4. Dinner date

Challenge yourself (or partner) when it's close to shopping day make something (anything) for dinner with what you have left over - could be bubble and squeak or omelettes or even unconventional dinner meals like pancakes. Use up what you have.

List your leftovers and search online for recipes which include those items. The challenge is to create a dish which does not require any ingredient which you do not have on hand at the time.

You will be surprised and delighted with the results you can achieve working from scratch! Plus it can be a bit of fun.

5. Just add water

Without fail, carrots and cucumbers are always served on the side of something – kid’s lunches or adult social events with a dip. Why? Because both are inexpensive (whether they’re from the local market or purchased from the supermarket) and both foods are staples in most fridges since they’re so versatile and typically one of the only veges we can get into the little people!

But hey, we don’t like to cut veggies every single morning and leaving them can mean they go soft before we are ready for them to. So why not add this task to your weekend prep time. It takes about 10 minutes to cut a bunch of carrots and cucumbers. Add them to a jar with a small amount of water at the bottom to stop them from dehydrating and ensuring they last longer. That, my friend, is time well spent.

BONUS - Same with leaf veges - you can wrap them in damp cloth after removing from the stems and they stay crisper for longer, life changed!

Happy food waste reducing!

This helpful blog was written by Pamela South. 

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