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 Sydney workshops. Read on to give food waste the flip.
Tell us if this sounds familiar – you stumble hangrily through the shops after a long day of work to pick up some things for dinner, or you get to the markets and try to cram all the things into your bag. You get home and reality hits, you’ve bought waaaay too much food. You’re not the only one – it’s one of the biggest reasons we waste food.
So when you’ve bought too much food, what can you do to make sure it doesn’t go off? And how do you stop your hangry self buying too much food in the first place?
When you’ve already bought too much food
Freeze it like a boss (and be your own boss).
There’s a lot of contradicting info online about what’s freezable (and not). Really though, your tastebuds are the best judge. The best way to find out is to freeze a little bit, try it out, and find out. Usually it’s the texture that’ll be the only thing you’ll notice change, rather than the flavour. If the texture turns out a little iffy, the best way to salvage your #freezerfail is to just cook it. Even lettuce and chopped cucumber, for example, can be cooked once defrosted (our fave additions are sesame oil + soy, or simply garlic + salt lightened with a squeeze of lemon).
Here are a few other surprising freezables to keep up your sleeve. The avocado changes a little bit but it’s great in a dressing:
Make “Meal Lego”.
If you’ve ever done meal prepping for a week, you’ll understand the dread when it comes time to eat the same meal for the fifth time in a row. Meal Lego are the individual building blocks for a meal (aka your weeknight besties). Think chopped roast veg. Shredded cooked chicken. Bean and vege stew. Whole roasted potatoes, chopped. Keep them plain and they’ll be super flexible, which means they’ll also make your next weeknight dinner that much faster and easier to pull together. Cooked veg also tends to defrost better.
Like real Lego, Meal Lego works best frozen in square and rectangular containers so you can stack’em and maximise the space in your freezer (so adult, right).
Chop it like it’s hot.
Have a house-wide chop-up right after your shop, whether you’re freezing or making Meal Lego. Crank up your fave beats as you chop your beets and catch up with your housemates. We’re listening to this right now at the YFM HQ.
Front load on un-freezables.
While you can freeze salad greens, most people prefer’em raw – so eat stuff like salad greens and cucumbers first, and you shall avoid the green swap in the crisper. It also helps if you take this advice literally and store them at the front of your fridge.
Storing your produce like a pro will also help it stay perky – check this post out for 3 simple guidelines to stick by.
Give and let give.
Turn your shopping boo-boo into brownie points, and gift some of your load.
How to stop buying too much food (and save money on groceries)
Given that Aussies spend over $1000 a year on food that’s tossed (guys – that’s about a coffee a day!), buying as much as you’re actually going to eat is an easy way to spend less on groceries.
Find your optimal load.
Another reason bringing your own bag is the bomb. If you’re regularly buying too much, notice how many bags of food that equates to. Next time, only bring as many bags as you’ll need to fill up and are able to actually carry. Using a bag rather than a trolley also acts as a heavy reminder you’ve probably got more than you need.
Get creative and re-define “nothing”.
Unless you literally have an empty fridge, freezer and pantry, you don’t actually have “nothing to eat in the kitchen”. Instead of going shopping when you’re hungry, pull together something from what you’ve got. If hangriness is over-riding your creativity, plug some of the ingredients you have into your favourite recipe site for some inspiration – but use the recipe as a guide, not gospel. Foodgawker and Food52 are some great places to start.
Image credit: Zo Zhou
Video by the amazing Kit Baker