By Kirsty Underwood
Food is a source of enjoyment for many of us. Of course it provides us with nourishment too. But how mindful are we around our food consumption and buying habits? With a few little changes I believe it’s possible to not only waste less food, but to also save time, money and to feel more in control around our food choices.
1) Take stock of what you already have
Before shopping for more food, check out what you’ve already got. You’d be surprised what you can find lurking at the back of your pantry!
2) Plan your meals
Once you know the food you already have, you can plan your meals for the week ahead taking those ingredients into account. Consider what can be made with those tinned tomatoes, half a packet of pasta and the random veggies in the bottom of your fridge. Think of your meal plan as a guide – you don’t have to be rigid with it. If Wednesday rolls around and you don’t feel like the Spag Bol you’d planned then just pick one of the other meals.
3) Write a shopping list
Based on the breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks you’ve planned for the week, now you can list the ingredients you’ll need to pull it all together. Shopping with a list will ultimately save you time and money too, but only if you stick to it!
4) Buy only what you need
Using a shopping list certainly helps you avoid those impulse purchase, but you also need to consider how much of an ingredient you need. It’s great to have a well-stocked pantry, but how many uses will you really have for that obscure ingredient you once bought for a recipe? This is where stores like Bulk Whole Foods come in as you can scoop up just the amount you need of an ingredient, and you can even take your own jars in to fill.
5) Support local growers
Buying direct from the farmer means we’re cutting out the middle man and getting the produce as nature intended, and it’s often the stuff that the big supermarkets would otherwise reject.
6) Buy the “odd” or reduced produce
I don’t know about you, but I don’t need my apples to be coated in wax, perfectly polished or identical in size. I actually enjoy looking for the weirdest produce now, because I’d hate to see it go to waste for not being “perfect” enough. I pretty much always snap up reduced produce too. Even if you can’t cook with it right away, it can be frozen for when you’re ready to use it… hello brown spotty bananas!
7) Sort your food in order of what needs using first
When unpacking your grocery shopping at home make sure the stuff that needs using first in your fridge is brought to the front.
8) Embrace your freezer
There’s no reason for food to go to waste if you have a freezer. Bananas can be peeled and frozen for smoothies, herbs can be blended with olive oil or coconut water and frozen in ice cube trays, veggies can be turned into soups, meat can be portioned up into containers in the freezer until you’re ready to cook with it… you get the idea.
9) Store your food well
Investing in glass jars and containers will help keep the food in your pantry fresher for longer, and you’ll also be able to see what you have more easily. Learning which conditions are best for certain ingredients will help prolong their life too. For example, some nuts and seeds can go rancid in the pantry and are actually better stored in the fridge.
10) Use the whole plant or animal
Those celery leaves are perfectly fine thrown into a stock or soup, and the leftover bones from a roast chicken are ideal for making broth with. Once you’re more conscious about avoiding waste, you’ll find all sorts of uses for the food you may have thrown out in the past.
11) Love your leftovers
There’s no need to force ourselves to finish what’s on our plates anymore. We can be far kinder to ourselves than that by simply eating until we feel satisfied. Whatever we don’t finish can be saved for lunch the next day or re-purposed into another night’s meal. For instance, leftover roast veggies can be used as another side dish or turned into a casserole, hash or soup.
Kirsty Underwood is a healthy food and lifestyle expert for busy people who struggle to find the time or inspiration to eat well. Through her scrumptious wholefood recipes and transformative coaching style she shows you how to make food fun, uncomplicated and super healthy. While still tasting ah-maaaazing!
When she's not sharing her infectious passion for health - you'll find her seeking sunshine, embracing her inner hippy, getting lost in nature or enjoying something chocolatey.
You can meet Kirsty over at www.vitalitykitchen.com.au or on Facebook.