Waste Not, Want Not: How to Cook for the Family Without Being Wasteful
Cooking for the family, no matter how big or small, can be a challenge. Add in trying to be green and you may think it’s even more difficult. However, trying to cut down on waste generated by cooking is not only better for the environment but can help you organize your meals better, too. Here’s how:
Before we even get to the food, cooking waste can also include the items you use to clean the kitchen. Make the switch from using antibacterial wipes and paper towels to washable, and therefore reusable, cloths. Don’t worry about kitchen apparatus such as cookers — they don’t notice the difference! There’ll be less to buy and, with a little elbow grease, your kitchen will turn out just as clean.
Next, take the time to plan a week’s worth of meals. Write down what you’re going to have for breakfast, lunch and dinner and, at the same time, make a grocery list for the items you need. This will stop you buying anything extra (saving you some cash!) that could potentially end up uneaten and needing to be thrown out. Organize the food in the refrigerator, pantry and freezer by expiry date, with items that expire soon at the front so they’ll be used first. It’s been said that we throw away 30% of what we buy, often because the items are past their ‘use by’ date, so this will more or less guarantee you actually eat everything you buy.
Buy fresh and locally
Steer clear of pre-packaged meals, fruits and veggies. All these do is leave you with packaging to throw away. Instead, go to your local farmers market and buy things fresh. This will ensure you cook with only the freshest of ingredients so your meals will turn out healthier, too. Your whole family can thank you later for helping to keep their waistlines nice and trim!
Portion in advance
Another good tip for making sure you don’t waste food is to portion items in advance. Portioning meat, such as pork chops, chicken breasts and mincemeat, will ensure you make just the right amount of food for your family and reduce the chance of leaving potential leftovers. Measure out rice, pasta and other dry goods for the same reason. It’s also healthier for everyone to stick to one portion, so it’s a win-win situation.
Freeze items in portions, so the food is not only easy to thaw and cook but you’ll only end up taking out exactly the amount you need. You can thaw a portion per person, so if you have only one kid, for example, you can easily split up a multi-pack of chicken and use it for several meals. Wrap food well and mark it with the expiry date before you pop it in the freezer.
So, with a little care and advance planning, you can easily cut down on your cooking waste!