Meal Planning + Prep for a Zero Waste Kitchen

by Maddie Vlismas

Each year, one out of every five shopping bags of fruit, vegetables and bread is put into the bin as a result of household and commercial food waste. Not only is this terrible news for the environment and the world as so many go hungry every day, it's also terrible news for your pocket! This wastage roughly costs us $20 a week, or over $1000 per year!

At a time when we're all working hard to save our money and stay safe, it's more important than ever to use what resources we already have to reduce our food waste and shop less frequently.

A Zero-Waste Kitchen may seem unattainable, but it's actually all about planning. 

Here are some of our best tips and tricks to help you extend the life of your groceries, reduce food waste and help the planet. 

~ Refrain from over-buying, and stick to your grocery list!

Make sure to only buy what you will need and actually use. We do this by planning out our meals for the week ahead, and only buying the ingredients we know we'll need.

We also recommend making your shopping list a living and shared document (like a whiteboard, or a list stuck to the fridge) to track things as they run out

~ Eat your leftovers first - within 48 hours if you can

No judgement - we know you've all been here. To that poor, forgotten bowl of *insert food here* that got pushed to the back of the fridge and stayed there for the next 3 weeks - we're so sorry! We pretty much have leftovers from dinner every night, which we then divide and take to work as lunch the next day! This is a super handy way to ensure you're eating a proper lunch, whilst saving money and avoiding plastic waste too! It's a total win - win

    ~ Store your produce better to extend their life

    Separating your fruit + veg in your fridge can actually help keep them fresher for longer! This is because certain fruits like apples, pears, melons and stone fruits sometimes contain ethylene, a chemical which helps them ripen but can promote over-ripening in other produce.

    Our Reusable Silicone Ziplock Bags and Silicone Stretch Lids have been absolute game-changers in keeping our produce + leftovers fresher for *so* much longer. They both provide an airtight seal which means that the produce stays fresher for longer. You can even used glass containers and Tupperware to achieve a similar effect. 

    Fruits + vegetables are mainly made up of water - and as soon as they are harvested the begin to lose moisture as part of their natural ageing process. Storing your food in airtight containers helps produce that needs to stay moist to avoid going limp and dry (- think broccoli and beans), and produce that needs to avoid being too moist (- think spinach, lettuce and berries). Too much moisture can cause microorganisms like bacteria and mould to develop which speeds up the deterioration process. To combat this - include a tea towel or paper towel in the container to absorb excess moisture!

      ~ Limit your use of prepared foods until after you've used your fresh ingredients 

      Plan out what meals you want to cook for the week ahead before your grocery shop, and roughly choose what meals you'd like to cook for each night. Sometimes we even look at the weather forecast to help us do this - which can sound insane, but we know there's no way we're eating a curry on a hot, balmy night. 

      We also decide on what we're cooking and when, based on how long each fresh ingredient will last. Some veggies can last forever in our Reusable Ziplock Bags in the crisper, where others need to be used in the next few days or so. We also know that as the week goes on, we can get a bit lazy and will be more inclined to prepare easier, fewer ingredient meals like pasta or homemade pizzas. Keeping this in mind can make your meal planning / prep *so* much easier!

        ~ Salvage any sad produce into soups, stir fry, sauces, baking or even re-grow as new veggies!

        You simply need to reimagine how you see your produce. For example, a soft tomato is a pretty gross thought when you want to slice it on a sandwich, but it's actually pretty perfect to turn into a pasta sauce... Overripe bananas make fantastic banana bread! Slightly soft berries are perfect to freeze for a smoothie! We also freeze a lot of our vegetable scraps to turn into veggie broth once a month. There are literally a million and one ways you can keep reaping the benefits of your produce longer than you think - you just need to open your mind to it!

        Want to try your hand at growing new fruit + veg from old scraps? We tell you exactly how to do it over here!

        ~ Try for some large-batch one-pot meals, for leftovers that you can freeze or even share with your neighbours or family!

        This is a *great* way to save money and is crazy efficient! It's also a really easy way to use any produce that is close to spoiling. Curries, Pastas and Stir Fries are perfect for this kind of thing. 

        What are some of your favourite methods to avoid food waste? Let us know!

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