July 14, 2022

Use It Up: Food Waste Hacks

Written by: Amanda Chebatte

Did you know that 7.6 million tonnes of food is wasted every year in Australia, 70% of which is perfectly edible? Or that the majority of this wasted food comes from our homes, costing each household approximately $2000-$2500 each year?

If you’ve become wide-eyed reading this, you’re not alone. Food waste is a big issue, one that we’re only just starting to meaningfully come to terms with.

But not all is lost. Fortunately, there are many tips, tricks and habits you can adopt to avoid food waste in your home. Making your fresh herbs last longer in the fridge by wrapping them in a damp cloth is one example. There are also some clever cooking hacks you can try that will use up most, if not all, of your fresh produce and even a few pantry items. Next time you’re in the kitchen, give these ideas a go…

  • Create a ‘stock box’. When prepping vegetables, add any off-cuts that are otherwise considered scraps, like onion ends and celery tops, to a container stored in the freezer. When the container is full use the veg to make a flavoursome stock or broth. You can also do this with meat trimmings and leftover bones.
  • Any leftover canned items like coconut milk or crushed tomatoes can be frozen in ice cube trays for use in another meal. Pop the cubes into smoothies or soups. 
  • For a tasty snack, toss the peels of potatoes in extra virgin olive oil and salt, then roast in a hot oven until golden and crisp. 
  • Rinse and dry the seeds scraped from the inside of a pumpkin. Toss with a little sesame oil, honey and soy sauce, and roast in a hot oven until golden and crisp. You can sprinkle them on top of soups, salads and grain bowls, or simply munch on them as a snack between meals.
  • Bake old or stale bread in a low oven until dry and crisp, then pulse in a food processor with dried herbs like rosemary to create breadcrumbs. Store them in an airtight container in the pantry for up to 3 months. 
  • Add vinegar and oil to the last of your condiment jars, like mustard, yoghurt or relish, and shake vigorously to create a delicious dressing for salads. Or you can also serve it as a zingy dip for chopped fresh vegetables like carrot sticks. 
  • Broccoli leaves and stems have often been discarded because they’re considered inedible, however the leaves are sweet and the stem is satisfyingly tender-crisp. Try tossing the leaves into salads or adding them to homemade pesto. Or slice the stem thinly and toss into a stir fry.
  • The tops of celery, fennel and carrots carry a lot of flavour. Instead of discarding them, chop them finely and add to salads. Or add the leaves to fresh sauces like pesto, chimichurri and salsa verde.
  • Tops of beetroot can be sautéed with garlic, or sautéed with salt and drizzled with a lemon yoghurt dressing. Serve as a tasty side dish to roasted meats and vegetables. 
  • Chop overripe fruit like bananas, peaches, mangos, pears and berries, and freeze in containers for a quick addition to smoothies. They can also be stirred into cakes and muffins before baking.
  • For the pickling and fermenting enthusiasts, did you know that you can pickle watermelon rind? Give it a go and serve with barbecued meats and veggies. It’s great added to a cheese board too.

Are there any clever tricks you do in your kitchen to avoid food waste? Let us know!

Statistics current as of 2022 from OzHarvest Australia