Food waste is a huge problem – all over the world. To take a closer look at the facts and figures, just head to last week’s blog post. One thing is certain – we need to save more food from landfill in order to help people and the environment, especially in the Global South, and to conserve valuable resources. As consumers, we have it in our hands to make a big difference. After all, in most countries, private households are responsible for the largest share of food waste. In this blog post, we have collected some tips and suggestions as well as some great recipes to help you waste less food. Let’s start with shopping!
Change starts in the grocery store
We can already prevent unnecessary food leftovers when purchasing and storing our food.
First plan, then shop: Especially before making larger purchases, it can be wise to think about what you want to eat during the week, whether something special is coming up or whether you will be away from home for a longer period of time. This way you can estimate much better how much groceries you really need to buy.
Write a shopping list: Whether you use the traditional way in the form of paper or a mobile phone app, write down exactly what you need for the meals you’re planning. Impulse buying now and then is perfectly fine, but often leads to leftovers when it comes to larger quantities.
Save food: If you want to save food directly from the bin, you can do this, for example, through initiatives like Foodsharing. The organization makes sure that unwanted or overproduced food is passed on to people or organizations who still want it. Also, shops like the German online shop “Mit Ecken und Kanten”, which also has our chocolate from time to time, offer food that can no longer be sold in retail shops due to small blemishes or best-before dates.
Store properly: Proper food storage plays a role in waste prevention along the entire value chain and it can also go a long way at home.
- It is best to put new food supplies at the back on the shelf so that older supplies are used up first.
- Repackage opened packages in tight-sealing containers made of glass, metal or plastic to keep them fresh or free from humidity for longer.
- Onions, potatoes and garlic should be stored in a dry place away from light to prevent premature sprouting or mold.
- It is always better to store apples separately, as they release a plant hormone called ethylene, which can accelerate the ripening of other fruits and vegetables in their vicinity. Bananas, apricots and plums are particularly susceptible to this.
- Homemade nut or oat milk usually only lasts a few days, in contrast to bought nut or oat milk. So if you only need it for coffee, it is better to prepare smaller quantities or freeze some of it.
- This also works for fresh bread, leftover portions, sauces or homemade pestos and smoothies. To avoid spoiling because you can’t eat them straight away, simply put them in the freezer in storage containersor plastic bags (that you can reuse afterwards).
Using leftovers instead of throwing them away
A lot of things end up in the organic waste of households – from peelings and greens to half portions of dinner that have not been eaten. Yet there are so many ways to make good use of leftovers.
Use in the household: Some food scraps are great to use for cleaning or as fertilizer. Coffee grounds, tea bags, egg whites and other scraps are also great for the body. They can be used in the form of hair treatments, face masks or peelings. Just make sure to use the right recipes for your skin and hair type. You can find many different recipes online.
Drying: Many leftover foods can be processed further by drying them. Bread and buns, for example, can be ground into breadcrumbs, leftover vegetables can be made into soup broth, and dried citrus peels give off a great room scent.
Utilize leftovers: We often don’t realize how much of what we buy or make ourselves we can actually eat and use, or which leftovers are great for other things.
- Vegetable greens: Radish and carrot greens, fennel and kohlrabi leaves – they all contain many vitamins and are often unjustly thrown away. Yet they are excellent for pestos, soups, salads or stewed as a side dish.
- Broccoli and cauliflower stalks: They are also very nutritious and contain high amounts of vitamin B5 and folic acid. Nevertheless, they often end up in the organic waste. Next time, it is best to steam them a little and use them in vegetable soups or chopped in salads after shortly cooking them.
- Leftover plant milk: If you make your own nut or oat milk at home, you usually end up with the pulp. This is very suitable for baking, vegetable spreads or even homemade almond feta.
- Broth: If you cook vegetables, meat or fish for a longer period of time, you usually end up with a broth that is great as a vegetable broth for other dishes or for making sauces. Just store it in a screw-top jar in the fridge and use it within a couple of days.
Appreciate ripe fruit and vegetables: An apple with soft spots, a brown banana or a wrinkled pepper are far from being ready for the bin. Bananas in particular are great for baking or as a vegan egg substitute, and other soft fruits can also be made into cakes, compotes or smoothies if you no longer want to eat them plain. Wrinkled vegetables can also be pureed and used in a soup or quiche, for example.
Last but not least, we have three wonderful leftover recipes for you. They come from Karen, our marketing manager in Ghana, and Sophia and Mark, from our German marketing team.
Mark’s vegan wrinkly vegetable spread
- 1-2 pieces of old vegetables (red peppers, carrots, courgettes, aubergine, etc.)
- ½ clove garlic
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp chickpeas or beans, drained
- 2 tbsp sunflower or pumpkin seeds, or nuts (walnut, almond, cashew nut)
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1-2 tbsp water
- 1 pinch of salt
Instructions: Peel the garlic and cut into small cubes. Remove the seeds from the vegetables, peel (in the case of carrot or aubergine) and dice into medium-sized cubes. Heat the olive oil in a pot and fry the garlic and vegetables lightly, then add the water and simmer for 5 minutes until the liquid is gone. Let the vegetables cool down a bit and put them in a blender together with the rest of the ingredients (except the salt) and puree it finely. Season with the salt at the end and add 1 tsp water if the spread is too dry.
Sophia’s vegan falafel made with radish greens
- 1 bunch of radish greens
- 60 g tofu
- 2 tbsp soy yogurt
- 2 tbsp linseed
- 2 tbsp starch
- 130 g chickpeas
- 3 tbsp (almond) flour
- ½ tsp pul biber (or chili)
- a little salt
- oil for frying
Instructions: Put all the ingredients in a blender and mix until homogeneous. Season again with salt and meanwhile add oil to a pan. When the pan is hot, put 1 tsp of mixture into the pan at a time and press it a little flat. Turn after a few minutes, when the underside is crispy.
Serve warm with a yogurt dip.
Karens chocolatey bread and butter pudding
- Slightly stale plain white bread
- 3 tbsp butter, melted
- 3 eggs
- ⅓ cup or 100 g brown sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups unsweetened condensed milk
- ½ cup raisins
- 1 cup chocolate chunks (optional)
Instructions: Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Cut or tear bread into chunks and put them into a greased baking dish. Drizzle the melted butter over the bread and sprinkle with raisins. In a medium bowl, beat eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla extract and cinnamon until well mixed. Gently stir in chocolate chunks. Leftover chocolate from Easter or Christmas works great for this. Pour the mixture over the bread and press down lightly to allow the bread to soak up the moist. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 – 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Serve hot with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.
As you can see, it is not difficult at all to do something against food waste. On the contrary, it can be fun and even save you some money. Which tips and tricks were new to you and which ones have you been using already? And if you want to find more inspiration just google food-waste recipes or follow the hashtag #stopfoodwaste on Instagram. Let’s keep this movement growing together!