Food Waste

Paul Roberts, the author of The End of Food did a radio story this afternoon about Prime Minister Gordon Brown speaking up about food waste. Paul Robert's voice sounds like Michael Pollan and as I'd missed the first part of the four minute segment I thought he was.

I've been wanting to read The End of Food and after hearing the author talk on the radio it has moved higher on my list. If Paul Roberts is half as good a writer as he is a speaker the book will be terrific.

And I was happy to hear a world leader involve everyone in the solution of food security by starting at our own tables. I know big solutions are necessary but it makes sense to start at home.

All of which got me thinking about the ways I've learned to waste less. Throwing food away from the farmers' markets is much harder than when I used to go to the grocery store. The food has a face now instead of a brand. It's not filler, it's personal.

Here's a few things I do:

- Make croutons with the ends of old bread.
- Freeze leftover rice for fried rice another day.
- Make veggie broth with the bottom drawer odds and ends and freeze it for a soup base.
- Try to buy less.
- Package leftovers for lunch.
- Substitute recipe ingredients with what's in the fridge.
- Strip a roasted chicken and cook the bones for broth.

None of these ideas are earth shattering but they're far more satisfying than filling a garbage bag.

What do you do to shop wisely and waste less? I could use some new ideas or to be reminded of old ones long forgotten.


hmd said...

1) Save liquid from steaming veggies or boiling potatoes for soup stock.

2) I try to plan my food for the week, but sometimes my dad will show up with a whole box of fresh food. I turn around a make a pot of soup with it all so it doesn't go bad. Then pop the soup in the freezer for weeks I might be low on veggies.

3) Be flexible but go to the market with a list.

hmd said...

4) Oh, and don't go to the market when you're hungry...

Joyce said...

I save liquid from veggies, too, and use it as soup stock. I used to make croutons. Thanks for mentioning that-I need to get back in the habit!

Donna said...

I try to use up any leftovers by having them for lunch the next day.

When I cook a larger piece of meat, I use leftovers (which I sometimes have to guard!) to make as many meals as possible. (eg. tonight's london broil will supply meat for stir fry and nacho dinners later in the week.)

Unknown said...

Great tips! I rarely have kitchen left-overs because I turn them into other dishes. All my kitchen waste goes into either the compost pile or the worm bin!

Donna said...

I thought of another... Leftover pita bread molds quickly so I slice it and toast it in the oven to make pita chips. I've tried that with leftover tortillas, too, but haven't had as much success.

BTW, don't ever try to hide leftover salmon in enchiladas. I did that once, and it has gone down in history as my most inedible dinner.

Lucy said...

Was just reading about Gordon Brown's message in the Times International Edition. Excellent ideas, Katrina.

We hardly ever seem to have leftovers as there are teenage boys around here! I used to feed excess leftovers to work collegues who were happy to eat pretty much anything.

I love Heather's point about being flexible when shopping. And the internet is an incredible tool for those ingredients that one's not sure what to do with.

Connie said...

I think they should have started at their own gluttonous tables. Did you see what they ate?

Kale for Sale said...

heather - I've been using the steaming water for the garden but I like your soup idea. Actually all your ideas. Thanks.

joyce - I secretly squirrel away bits of bread so it will get old and I can make croutons.

donna - I got excited when I saw leftover tortillas in your comments as we have extra homemade ones in the cupboard right now. I'm going to try freezing them.

Salmon enchiladas didn't sound too bad when I first read it but then I thought about it. Ummm. Yeah, I can see why it's gone done in history.

bobbi - I can see you magically waving your wand to turn one meal into another. Perfect.

lucy - I read flexible as creative in your and heather's comments. Nearly one in the same, don't you think?

verde - Great point. I didn't see what they ate. Hopefully they replated any leftovers.

Anonymous said...

Lovely simple ideas. At the end of the week I use leftover veggies and any bits of cheese in a frittata. I also make anything that looks a bit droopy into soup.

The other strategy I've started using is picking all the groceries I want and then putting some back. We never eat what I think we're going to eat. And it's better, in my book, to under-shop than over-shop.

It requires a bit of extra thought and some re-training, but there's now very, VERY little that goes to waste in our house.

BerryBird said...

I have been just dumping the liquid from steaming veggies, and feeling terrible about it, especially when they are local farmers market veggies. Freezing it is a great idea, I think I'll try that. It will give me some time to find a good soup recipe. I am ashamed to admit I have never made soup from scratch--I have always started with storebought broth or stock. Any favorite soup recipes you would recommend?

Going Crunchy said...

Doing Crunchy Chicken's Project No Waste was interesting. I took pictures for several days of the food I wasted. It helped me talk hubby into a composter.

I freeze things, and also use leftovers for work lunches. I will also cook and freeze dishes so that the food is used, doesn't go bad and I have supper already ready.

You can also freeze more things then you think- - like a bananna going bad to save to add to bread. Bits and bobs of veggie leftovers to toss into a quiche when you have enough. I also save spagetti or applesauce jars to house soups and such as they freeze well in the glass jars.

Meal planning better has been my biggest food waste reducer. I wasted more when I didn't have a plan for use of items and bought willy nilly. This has also translated into better quality food and veggies overall as my food money is put to better use.

Going Crunchy said...

Oh, sorry- - one more to add.

Almost anything tastes great when you roll it up in a whole wheat tortilla. I've used salad leftovers, beans, casseroles- -etc. Toss them on with a touch of cheese and whamo- - fresh new meal.

I've bought corn flour to try to learn to make my own tortillas like Green Bean- - no that would reduce waste!

Anonymous said...

I keep a bag in my freezer for stale bread, rolls, & bread ends. I use these to make bread crumbs, which I use to make black bean burgers, casserole toppings, etc.

Joan said...

I was just thinking about this topic tonight. There was a good amount of chard and kale in the CSA share I picked up this evening. But, we are going out of town and won't be able to use it before we go. So, I made a chard gratin and then put it in the freezer. (Even though it was 90 degrees and I didn't feel like cooking.)
I have also found it helpful to look on the internet for recipes to use up various combinations of things left over.
One other little thing - I save butter wrappers in the freezer and use them for the next time I need to grease a pan.

Johanna GGG said...

hi - saw link to your post on Kathyrn's site - lots of great ideas here - and I wanted to add another that I really like which is using stale bread in soup when you are using up the leftovers in a soup anyway - I did it the other night and it worked wonderfully

Laura said...

Growing up we always saved the leftover bread bits and so forth to make our own breadcrubs. Always. I have a bag in the freezer for just the same. Imagine my shock when I realized that people actually spend money buying fancy-schmancy bread bits in a box!

Kale for Sale said...

kathryn - Putting things back is a great idea. I like playing with that edge in the kitchen when it appears that there's nothing to eat but then looking further and reaching for creativity I come up with something delicious that I'd never have gotten to otherwise. It takes me out of the box of routine somehow. Thanks for the tips.

berrybird - I've only been making soups for the last year without boxed stock so I'm no expert. But I did take a friends carrot soup idea and made it with cauliflower. I cooked the carcass (I don't know how else to word that) for a chicken broth, added yellow cauliflower until it was soft then blended it with lots of roasted sweet peppers. So easy and delicious. My friend did the same thing with carrots and fennel. Really I just make things up.

going crunchy - Taking pictures of the food you were wasting is brilliant. What a wake up call that would be. A definite practice in mindfullness. Thanks for the other tips too.

sarah - Good one. I'm starting a crumb bag, maybe a jar, with the next loaf of bread in our house.

joan - The butter wrapper idea is sheer genius. Simple and genius. Thank you.

joanna - Sounds good. We're having a heat wave and here I am thinking of nothing but soup.

fearlesschef - I'm just the opposite. I grew up eating croutons from a box and never considered making them. I was shocked that I could and had never done it. And then delighted. They are so much better.

Beth said...

I always stew any leftover fruit as it keeps well in the freezer and is great for a quick dessert. Alternatively, I use fruit near the
end of their life to make muffins (they also freeze well). You can make great savoury muffins too.

With leftover vegetables, I turn them into a pasta sauce. Just put in whatever vegetables you have with a few tins of tomatoes, and let them stew on the oven top for a 30-40 mins. Pasta sauce freezes well too!

Kale for Sale said...

beth - I'm going to need a bigger freezer! Thanks for the good tips.