Cooking your own meals at home each evening is cheaper, healthier, and more rewarding than relying on takeaway or microwaveable meals most nights of the week. However, there is still room for you to optimise your home cooking so that you minimise the amount of food waste you create.
When you generate food waste as a by-product of home cooking, every morsel that ends up in the bin represents a chance for you to have saved money. The type of waste we’re talking about includes everything from uneaten food at the end of a meal to ingredients that you allow to go out-of-date before you get a chance to use them.
Not only is this waste costing you money, it also has a negative environmental impact because that food still needs to be produced and transported to your home. In this way, minimising food waste in your kitchen is also a way to help reduce your home’s ecological footprint and set a good example for others.
Let’s examine some of the ways you can save money and reduce waste in your kitchen.
Subscribe to a Meal-kit Service that Delivers Exact Ingredients
One of the most popular ways people are minimising waste in their kitchen is by essentially outsourcing their grocery shopping and recipe planning to a third party meal-kit delivery service. This kind of service will allow you to select from a series of easy recipes and have the exact amount of ingredients needed to make each dish delivered to your front door.
With this kind of service in place, you will be using 100% of the ingredients delivered to you and can avoid the temptations of the supermarket aisle and the stress caused by the amount of food choices you’re confronted with. You can also ensure that you only receive plant-based foods if you are vegetarian.
Be a Smart Shopper
Of course, the grocery store aisle is where the journey of most wasted food begins – the less you take off the shelf, the less you’re able to end up wasting back at home. If you don’t like to prepare shopping lists and you tend to just stroll the aisles making choices as you go, you are far more likely to take home more than you need or can realistically make use of.
A simple shopping list that you actually research and stick to is going to eliminate the risk of making wasteful purchases in the supermarket. When you take the time to actually think about what you need and prepare for expiration dates, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much money you save (and food waste you avoid).
If you can make time to do daily grocery trips rather than big, bi-weekly hauls, you will also notice more savings. A bonus of doing smaller shopping trips on a daily basis is that the ingredients you cook with that evening will be fresh – straight from the supermarket (so you won’t have to use storage space to refrigerate them).
Don’t Snub Leftovers
If you follow the aforementioned tips, then ideally you wouldn’t have many leftovers to worry about. However, no matter how much planning you do ahead of time, you can’t always predict your appetite and may end up with leftovers anyway.
Rather than seeing leftovers as something lesser, view them as getting two meals from one cooking session. In fact, you can deliberately plan to create leftovers so that you can reheat the same dish during the rest of the week (they make for an ideal work lunch).
Recycling and Composting
Even the most mathematically-optimised, commercial kitchens can’t eliminate 100% of food waste and run a totally waste-free operation – so don’t worry if you still end up having a few scraps when cooking at home. However, just because you haven’t eaten something, or it’s gone out of date, doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to head into your garbage bin and travel to landfill.
Recycling your food scraps could be as simple as giving a chicken carcass or out-of-date meat to your pet dog as part of their diet. Dogs are scavengers and can safely digest rotten meat that humans can’t (but make sure you check it for mould and bacteria first).
Composting is another great way to make use of unwanted food scraps and acts as a nutrient-rich fertiliser that you can use either in your garden or as a gift for neighbours. Composting isn’t too complicated, but it’s worth doing some online research into it so you know the best way to go about setting up a compost bin (try this handy guide).
It’s clear that there are opportunities for you to minimise waste and maximise the value you get from each meal at every stage of preparation. While it’s impossible to adjust to all these changes overnight, a slow-and-steady approach will see you saving money and ultimately creating a more sustainable home kitchen.