• Rachel’s top 10 waste-free ways to add more veg to your day

    Rachel Potter, The Waste Free Chef

    Rachel Cambridge-Potter is a permaculture chef and educator and has used her former career in education to become one of Australia’s leading zero-waste culinary educators. She teaches waste-wise culinary classes along the East Coast of Australia, beekeeping workshops, and has her own cooking school in Sydney’s North Shore.

  • 1. Buy in season.

    If you buy in season your vegetables will have travelled less miles to get to you as it would have been grown by local farmers. Food also tastes better when eaten in the right season. It’s usually cheaper as well as it is in abundance. And anything you don’t use, freeze or preserve the rest.

    2. Buy ‘ugly and imperfect’ vegetables.

    Choose ‘ugly’ and ‘imperfect veg’ at supermarkets and grocers. Some items might not look perfect from the outside, but are as perfect as ever on the inside. Choosing ugly and imperfect vegetables helps reduce the astonishing statistic that 25% of farmers crops currently never leave the farm gate simply because they are a bit ugly, and do not meet the visual specifications of some consumers and supermarkets (Horticulture Australia).

    This means that every time you buy ugly and imperfect vegetables you will be helping them take more of the farmer’s crops, helping reduce food wastage, and most importantly saving up to 50%.

     

    3. Buy only what you need and store vegetables correctly when you get home!

    This one is common sense. Before you go shopping, look at what you have in the fridge, freezer and pantry (eg, canned vegetables and legumes). Plan your meals for the week ahead and decide what you need for these. Don’t be tempted to buy produce specials unless you know that you have the time to use it when you get home.
    Store other fresh produce in airtight containers in the fridge.

    4. Be creative with your vegetable scraps.

    Vegetable scraps can be stored in a designated container in the freezer and when full, used as the base for your own vegetable stock. Roast your veggie scraps and use as is or turn into a roast veggie scrap soup. Flavour with some herbs and spices, or even with leftover dehydrated peelings.

    5. Always have a ‘take-away’ jar or container at hand.

    Have a carry bag or box in your car that is set-aside specifically for your own ‘take-away’ containers. That way, you will never leave leftovers behind when you are out and about. A 500ml glass jar is a convenient size to carry in your personal bag.

    6. Regrow food on your windowsill.

    Instead of throwing out your shallot roots, carrot tops, fennel or lettuce roots, place them in a shallow bowl of water and place on a sunny ledge in your kitchen. New shoots will start appearing before your eyes and you’ll be so delighted when you have more vegetables to cook with.

    7. Be a soup hero.

    Pretty much any vegetable nearing its end can be turned into a soup. Be creative – make a chilled beet, cucumber and herb soup when you find them soft at the bottom of your crisper. Or roasted capsicum soup topped with cheesy breadcrumbs from your freezer stores.

    8. Order less.

    40% of commercial kitchen food waste happens in the kitchen (prep waste). Of this, 2% is due to spoilage and 58% is plate waste from the customer. Next time you dine out, avoid ordering more than you think you can eat, and enjoy every mouthful!

    9. Cook with less.

    Use fewer ingredients when cooking and allow vegetables and seasonal ingredients to sing. Eat at home more often with family and friends, sharing a meal that you have created.

    10. Don’t forget to share your vegetable saving ideas and creations with friends and family!