So you know food waste is costing you, our farmers and the environment, but you’re sick of being spoon fed solutions that are good in theory, but don’t work when shit gets real.

Enter Youth Food Movement Australia’s SpoonLed series, food waste advice from young people like yourself. We’re gathering up the best solutions that work with our social lives, from our social community and leadership workshops. Read on to give food waste the flip.

You’ve probably heard the usual tips for reducing food waste already. Plan yours meals, stick to a shopping list, buy what you know you’ll use.

But if you’re anything like us, sometimes that last minute invite to the new bar down the road is going to win you over more than that fried rice you had planned. Sometimes, take out at 9pm is needed after a particularly long day.

Since we too have been in these situations more than we’d care to admit, we consulted the crew on what actually worked for them when shit got real. Here’s how you can bring out your inner protector of produce, when last-minute hump day cocktails (and dinner) come calling.

Plan for your plans to be disrupted.

When you’re shopping, try to buy half of your food that could be easily frozen (ideally without cooking). That way, when that hot last-minute dinner date rolls around, you can bust open that freezer door and put some of that produce on ice for the next week (and halve your next shop).

If you find your meal plans getting shattered on a regular basis, it might be a sign you’re buying too much food – check out these freezer hacks and how to shop small.

Perform CPR (Culinary Produce Resuscitation)

Sometimes, you forget to freeze. But that bendy carrot may still have some life in it yet. In fact, can we let you in on a little secret? Pretty much any sad veges (or fruit!) can be rescued magnificently by pureeing or mashing. Simply cook until soft, blitz and smash, and you have a vege smash that becomes pure kitchen gold (one of our faves is roasted red pepper smash). Add some hum to your hummus, some zip to your dip, some body to your soup, stew or curry. Fill up your sangas, bulk up your muffins, pancakes and scones. The possibilities are endless.

It’s also a great way to use up defrosted veges, especially the ones that you’re not entirely keen on.

We used our carrot smash from the video to thicken up a dressing of balsamic, chopped shallots, olive oil, salt and pepper.

carrot smash

Store it proper.

Like with real CPR, you want to prevent the need for it happening rather than relying on it all the time, right? Treat your produce right and it’ll stay perky longer.

Rather than stressing out about how to best store your carrots versus your cucumbers, you just need to remember a few simple guidelines.

  • No vege should have to go naked. If it ain’t in the produce drawer, give it a home in transparent containers or plastic bags you can re-use.* If you notice anything drying out, flick over a few drops of water next time before they go in the fridge (those head lettuces are going to get thirsty). Mushrooms, as the hipsters of the food world, find plastic way too mainstream and like to live in paper bags.
  • Don’t tell your apples about this, but some fruits give off this gas called ethylene which puts most veg right off – so keep fruit and veg separate. Ripen those fruits on the counter and then refrigerate (plus they’ll taste better, and you’ll see and eat them). Unless of course your kitchen is stinking hot and your fruit goes off.
  • Omg herbs, why are you so delicious yet so persnickety?! For basil, stick ’em in a glass or vase all romantic like, but strip the bottom of the stems so the leaves aren’t touching the water. For other herbs: lay ’em down to sleep in one of those many, many takeaway containers you’ve squirrelled, with a few drops of water. You’ll be able to keep an eye on them and give them a sprinkle if they start looking sad. If they’re just wilty but haven’t started going gross and gooey, freeze them for soup or dip.
  • Keep all the shiz that’ll go off quickest at the front of your fridge, or at the very top of your produce drawer. You’ll eat them first, and also they tend to be delicate pansies that don’t like being squashed.

*No need to do any hole punching – just loosely, lovingly wrap around rather than making that shit air tight.

Ready to Rescue? Cook up your own bright ideas and inspire our community on social with #spoonled

Image credit: Zo Zhou

Video by the amazing Kit Baker

Youth Food Movement