Love Food, Hate Waste
There's nothing we love more in pollen HQ than a good lunch debate - where we put the world to rights and get passionate about everything from people selling un-massaged kale (a cardinal sin in our opinion) to how the alignment of the planets is affecting our zen that week. A topic earlier this week really struck a cord though: food wastage. Now of course we all know that the fast food corporates and supermarkets are throwing out unprecedented amounts of food, but something we didn't expect was that places a little closer to home are too. With a team of girls mostly with health and wellness career backgrounds, we quite often get the inside scoop on the London health scene, but the stories of food wastage shared were really quite shocking to hear - especially in an industry that prides itself on caring about such things.
But we get it, we understand the struggle. With guidelines against giving away food past it's best and the unpredictability or orders and sales, it's hard not to end up with food wastage. And the same goes at home - unexpected meals out, having to bulk buy etc etc. At the beginning, we prided ourselves on never making more than one bag of rubbish a week, and as we grow we're determined to keep it the same - meaning we've learnt a lot of tips and tricks along the way, all of which can be applied at home too (and also make life a 1000x easier in the process!). Give them a go, share your tips with us too and feel the benefit - with the average Londoners food wastage cost being £200 a year, it's not only the environment that benefits!
A trip to the shop can quite often end up in excessive amounts of ingredients with no specific use. Our top tips?
- Meal plan. Take 10 minutes every Sunday to sit down and plan your meals for the week. Then once you get to the shops you know exactly what you need to buy. This also allows you to think smart too: plan the meals around seasonal ingredients that will be cheaper, and look at how you could incorporate the same ingredients into different meals for when you can't avoid the multi-packs
- Plan your leftovers into meals. Say you're making roast vegetables one evening, roast all the veg then turn the leftovers into an omelette for breakfast - you're much more likely to use the veggies when they're already roasted than if they're just sat in your fridge. Plan for this before you shop and you won't be left with excess meal leftovers.
- And don't go shopping hungry - the cardinal sin of over-buying.
And we mean everything:
- Chicken for dinner? Don't buy skinless breast (even though you're not wasting the rest of it, someone is) - buy the whole chicken, slice the breasts off to cook, slow cook the rest, use the broth (or freeze it in ice cube trays) and you have enough to play with for a week of dinners.
- Cooked too much rice/quinoa/lentils/chickpeas? Freeze it. It keeps well for up to 3 months and you'll thank yourself later.
- Same with veggies. Cook and freeze. Puree your root veggies and freeze in an ice cube tray to add to baking or soups for sweetness, make cauli-rice or broccoli rice and freeze, par-cook greens and freeze then simply defrost as you would meat when you want to use them again.
- And the same goes for fruit. If you have a high power blender then frozen fruit is ideal for smoothies. Buy frozen too - frozen fruit actually has a higher nutritional profile than 'fresh fruit' as it is frozen when it's at it's best with the added benefit of no chance of wastage!
- Our biggest problem has been finding a use for almond pulp leftover from making mylk, but we managed it in the end. We'll be sharing our almond pulp granola recipe next week, but it's also great to use in macarons, bliss balls and raw treats.
- All those off cuts, roots and stems you cut off veggies? Bag them all up and wait until you have a pretty big bag, then used them to make a delicious veggie broth.
- The same goes for any bones from meat and fish, ideal for making gut-loving broth. In fact ask your butcher for spare bones too - they're always happy to hand them over!
One of the main reasons food is thrown is because it's past it's best. But unless you have the convenience of living next to a grocer's (the dream, right?) buying when and if you need it isn't maintainable. But making sure your food is stored properly can easily extend it's shelf life.
- If your house is cold (12-20C) then you can store most veggies at room temp, but they're better stored in brown bags in the fridge - just keep them away from the bottom shelf where it's too cold and never store them with your fruit - the fruit releases ethylene which makes your veg spoil sooner
- Keep all fruit except bananas and pineapple stored in the fridge
- Wrap your herbs in a damp cloth and store in a sealed bag or container in the fridge to keep them fresher for longer.
- Keep meat in a separate compartment to the rest of your fridge for up to 3 days. If you know you won't use it in this time frame then freeze it in meal-sized portions - as long as you plan ahead then you'll always be able to defrost ready for a meal.
- The only one we really recommend getting fresh is leafy greens and lettuce leaves. If you can, try and buy these the day you're using them otherwise they're more likely to wilt.
- Make sure your fridge is at the right temperature. It should be below 5C - 70% of fridges aren't meaning stuff will go off much quicker!
We'd love to hear your tips and tricks too - just drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below!