Eating eco-friendly can be tricky when you lead a busy, fast-paced life, and no-one knows that better than university students.

Exams, parties, and long hours spent in the library – all these make it so that in our university days, cooking isn’t at the top of our priority lists. As students on the go, we’d rather look for something that is quick, simple and (preferably) delicious. With convenience as our prime objective, it can be easy to get swept up in an onslaught of ready-made meals, losing track of all the fresh ingredients going bad in our fridges.

The result? Stale bread, mushy bananas, and vegetables that have surely seen better days, all rotting in our kitchens. But while these leftovers don’t sound overly appetizing, you shouldn’t discard them as useless just yet – with just a little bit of creativity and enthusiasm, they can still be turned into tasty, simple-to-prepare snacks.

The following three recipes show you how to use some of your residual food to prepare snacks that are both healthy and delicious, and that take mere minutes to make.

The added bonus? These recipes are perfect for social events. Whether you are hosting a potluck dinner, or are simply having a gezellig round of drinks with friends, these quick bites are guaranteed to hit the spot.

So ask some of your friends to come over, crack a beer open, and let’s get cooking!

© 28bysamwood

Veggie Chips

Veggie chips have been growing in popularity recently, and for good reason – they are crunchy, delicious, and make for the perfect complement to a movie night-in.

But what’s even better than buying veggie chips, is preparing your own. Not only does this homemade version taste as good as the original, it’s also healthier, comes with zero plastic packaging, and costs you very little to make.

Ingredients:
old vegetables (potatoes, carrots, beetroot, parsnips and sweet potatoes work best for this recipe)
a drizzle of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Method:
Preheat the oven to 200C, and line a baking tray with some parchment paper. Very thinly slice your veggies into ribbons (using a vegetable peeler works great for this) – the best part of this recipe is that is also uses the vegetable peels, which would otherwise surely be wasted. Spread the veggie strips on the tray and drizzle them with olive oil (think “less is more” – too much oil makes for soggy chips). Add salt and pepper to taste and bake for 20 minutes, turning the tray halfway through. Serve with some ketchup on the side and enjoy!

BONUS TIP: If you wish, you can season your chips with additional spices to give them any flavor you like– options include paprika, oregano and basil.

© Emily Meijaard/ TBYW

Mediterranean Bruschettas

If you think eating your week-old bread sounds less-that-enticing, think again. These oven-baked brushettas are garlicky, aromatic and make for the ideal tapas-style dinner spread.

Ingedients:
old/ stale bread
2-3 cloves of garlic
a drizzle of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
dried or fresh oregano
dried or fresh rosemary
(optional) sundried tomatoes
(optional) olives, pitted and chopped

Method:
Preheat the oven to 180C. Peel and finely mince or crush your cloves of garlic. Cut all your slices of bread in four, and drizzle each part with olive oil. Rub the garlic into the bread and season with the salt, oregano and rosemary. If you like, garnish your bruschettas with some sun-dried tomatoes and olives. Line a baking tray with some parchment paper, and arrange the bread on top. Bake for 7-10 minutes, or until the bruschettas turn golden. Serve them with a glass of white wine, or simply enjoy them on their own!

BONUS TIP: This recipe is incredibly versatile, and allows you to include any ingredients you have that might otherwise go bad. Got some cheese you need to use up? Grate it and sprinkle it on top before putting the bruschettas in the oven. Have a mushy tomato lying around in your kitchen? Turn it into salsa and use instead of the sun-dried tomatoes.

© bigbasket

Banana Mug Cake

This recipe is perfect for when you have a bunch of overripe bananas in your fridge, but don’t feel like going through the trouble of making banana bread. You can make several mug cakes for a cozy night-in with friends, or just fix one up for yourself as a sweet post-dinner snack.

Ingredients (for one mug cake):
1 overripe banana
4 tbsp flour
1 tsp sweetener of choice (brown sugar, maple syrup and honey all work)
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
5 tbsp milk of choice (plant-based or not)
1 tbsp melted coconut oil
½ tsp vanilla extract
(optional) 1 tbsp chocolate chips or raisins to use as a mix-in

Method:
Grease a large mug with the coconut oil. Mash the banana and add it to a bowl, along with the flour, sweetener, baking soda, salt, milk, vanilla extract and mix-ins (if using any). Stir well to ensure the ingredients are evenly combined. Pour the mixture in your mug and microwave for 2 minutes at 900W. If the mug cake isn’t cooked to your preference, you can microwave it for a couple of seconds at a time until you reach your desired result. Devoir while warm!

BONUS TIP: Overripe bananas are the perfect vegan substitute for eggs in almost any pastry recipe. So, if you have some extra time on your hands, try experimenting by baking banana brownies or making some banana oatmeal cookies instead.

Next time you’re about to throw away limp vegetables from your fridge, think again! It’s possible that the veggies are simply dehydrated (usually the fridge makes them lose water faster). If they’re not mouldy, you can most probably revive them with water. 

It’s also a great way to save money while  grocery shopping. You can pick up rescued vegetables on donation from Tuesday Food Cycle Markets organised by Taste Before you Waste or benefit from discounted food at the supermarkets. 

Ekoplaza, for example, has daily discounts (up to 50%) for vegetables that are not as firm anymore. Oftentimes you can find wilted spinach or collard greens that revives beautifully after a SPA treatment. 

Below are two simple ways you can treat your vegetables.

Ice Bath 

For any leafy greens from spinach to collard greens and lettuce, the best method is an ice bath. 

Fill a large bowl with cold water, add a handful of ice cubes and submerge your (washed) leafy greens. Place the bowl in the fridge to keep it cold. Already after 20 min you’ll see the leaves “drink up” the water and become fresh and crispy! 

Photo by Adolfo Félix on Unsplash

Some bloggers advice to only do the ice bath for 20 min, but I actually like to keep my lettuce in the ice bath in the fridge for a few days. It doesn’t spoil and keeps fresh!

An ice bath also works for green beans and potatoes. Just peel the potatoes before submerging into an ice bath. 

Glass of Water 

This method works for celery, carrots, broccoli, and asparagus. Just trim the bottoms of the vegetables and place them upright in a tall glass of water until crisp (usually around 30 min). 

This method works great with herbs, too. Just change the water often to prevent the stalks from going mouldy. 

What vegetables can’t be rehydrated?

The re-hydration methods (both an ice bath and a glass of water) won’t work for vegetables that rot quickly (e.g. zucchini, squash, pumpkin and tomatoes). So make sure you use them quickly, e.g. by making a tomato soup or pasta sauce, zucchini fritters or spiralled zucchini “noodles” (so called zoodles), pumpkin soup, or simply roast the vegetables to serve them on top of rice, grains, pasta, or lettuce. 

And most of all, try to avoid food going bad in the first place by knowing how to store them in your fridge, outside of it, and what vegetables and fruit to keep apart to prevent rapid ripening.

Whether you want to lower your food waste, or are looking to make some more environmentally-friendly diet choices, food activism starts in your shopping basket.

Statistics show that nearly a third of the groceries we buy end up in a landfill, with as much as five million kilos of food being thrown away annually in the Netherlands only. Even the food that does make it to our plates can have a costly effect on the environment, depending on the means of its production – some of it, research suggests, can account for up to twice as much CO2 emissions as car use.

The amount – and type of food you buy is therefore crucial for the development of a food market that is both less wasteful and more ecologically viable. Conscious and well thought-out grocery purchases can ensure that we aren’t generating an excess of food in our pantries, whilst also signalling a shift in marketing demand to food producers and supermarkets alike.

The key things to look out for when grocery shopping in a more ecologically-friendly way are the objective necessity you have of a certain food, the resources that went into producing it, and the likelihood that this item would otherwise end up wasted.

Check your fridge first
Before making a trip to the supermarket, inspect your fridge and see what products you already have available. Pay special attention to items that are about to expire soon, and try to come up with creative ways to use them. This initial step helps you avoid making redundant purchases, and makes sure you aren’t wasting any of the food you already have at home.

Make a list of what you really need and plan your meals ahead
Now that you know what items you need to use up, create a meal plan for the week, and base your shopping list around it. Planning ahead of time makes sure you are being efficient with both your shopping and your meal preparation, and helps you avoid a situation where you have nothing to eat, or (on the contrary) have purchased way too much food.

Check alternative food sources
Before hitting the shops, try to source your groceries in an alternative (and more environmentally-friendly) way – a good place to start might be food rescue markets. Using rescued produce is always preferable over buying products at the grocery store – that way, instead of risking the creation of additional food loss, you are decreasing food waste by using products that have already been discarded by the retailer (but that are still perfectly edible!). Additionally, you are usually able to get such food for free or by paying only a fraction of its original price (the TBYW Tuesday Food Markets offer you to make an optional donation in exchange for your purchases).

Resist marketing temptations
Supermarkets have a way of making us buy stuff we don’t really need – whether it’s “buy-one-get-one-free” deals or delicious chocolate in shiny wrapping, we often walk out of the store with far more food than we initially intended to get. Making unnecessary purchases like those increases our chance of wasting food, and supports the flourishing of excessive consumerism. Once you have your shopping list of necessary items, try to stick to it, and resist flashy advertising. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to an extra pack of cookies every now and again – just make sure it’s you who’s making the decision, not the supermarket marketing team.

© Taste Before You Waste

Shop local, shop seasonal
All food is not created equal when it comes to the amount of environmental resource that goes into its making. Fruits and vegetables that are out of season often have to be imported from the southern hemisphere, and thus require large amounts of fossil fuel to facilitate their transportation. Additionally, since it has to travel such a long distance, much of this imported produce goes bad before it’s even reached the supermarket shelves, therefore resulting in vast quantities of food loss. Fruits and vegetables that do not traditionally grow in a European climate (think mangos and avocados) have a similarly taxing effect on the environment. Of course, you don’t have to give up such items entirely, but try to prioritise local and seasonal produce instead – buy strawberries in the springtime, when they are in season, and try swapping out your tub of guacamole for some hummus or salsa next time you need a dip.

Go for the odd ones out
A lot of fresh produce gets left behind on supermarket shelves solely for its lack of aesthetic appeal – items like bruised apples and oddly-shaped potatoes are less likely to get bought, even though they share the same flavour and nutritional value as their prettier counterparts. Consequently, such fruits and vegetables are likely to be discarded by the retailer much before they have gone bad, simply because there’s no market for them. Buying this kind of “imperfect” produce makes sure that it doesn’t get wasted, and helps undermine the current unrealistic market ideal of perfectly-looking food.

Buy products that are close to their expiration date
If you know you’re going to use up an item relatively quickly, or are shopping for a ready-made meal, try going for products that are close to their sell-by date (most big supermarkets indicate them with a sticker) – this way, you are not only buying food that would otherwise be wasted, but will normally also get a discount on its price. Additionally, most products are good for at least a couple of days after their sell-by date (though this is highly dependent on the kind of food you’re buying – some items, like chocolate, can last for up to several months!), so you needn’t worry about consuming them straight away.

Making consistent, deliberate choices with the way we source our food gives us the power to create a fairer, more sustainable food market, and allows us to have a positive impact on the environment.

It also shows that food activism doesn’t always have to be about huge actions – sometimes, it can be about something as simple as the way we do our weekly groceries!

Summer’s here! Bring out the sun beds, dig out that bathing suit, lather yourself in sun screen and just lie under the sun forgetting all about deadlines and alarm clocks. Well… not exactly, but another beautiful season is upon us and with it come different patterns and habits. As I was daydreaming of all the things that I will be able to do in summer like to go out more, hang out on the beach, and reclaim the wonderful afternoon siesta, I started to think of good habits to pack for this summer. I’m going to share a few of them with you here.

At home

Shed those extra pounds

With a new season it’s always great to look into your closet and see which pieces of clothing you haven’t worn. A simple trick is to put the hanger facing outwards (opposite to what you’d normally do) when hanging clothes on the rail and if after the season they are still turned outwards, then you don’t really use is.

Keep it cool

Higher temperatures mean food can spoil quicker. It is therefore crucial to wash and store all food well. Remember to look at our blog on how to store food properly. If you get distracted and find your lovely fruits covered in dark spots, don’t worry about it. Just cut out the good fleshy bits add some lemon juice and voila you have a nice refreshing smoothie OR simply gather those lonesome fruit, slice them razor thin, add some red wine, brandy, brown sugar and lots of ice for a simple summer sangria


© MollieKate

Chop – Drizzle – Eat

Let’s face it, it’s warm, we’re lazy so we might not feel like making a proper meal. Summer is perfect to enjoy a nice crunchy salad with all kinds of vegetables, beans, herbs, grains, nuts, and lentils. Scrape your fridge or cupboards, chop and mix everything and then drizzle with a lovely dressing. You can opt for one of my personal favorites: Tahini dressing, or Fresh mint dressing. Yum!

Out and about

Stay safe

The sun’s warmth is lovely but not its UVA rays. It’s important to protect our skin with face and body sunscreen as well as after-sun. Unfortunately, commercial sunscreens have a huge deteriorating impact on marine life and are linked with the destruction of the coral reef (Danovaro, R. et al, 2008). Fortunately, there are eco and even zero waste options which you can make yourself.

Tidy up!

Clear blue waters, soft green grass or beautiful clear sands. These splendid places offer us moments of peace and a place to have fun with our friends, so why not give something back? While you’re at the beach or park you can  spend 5 minutes cleaning up and even join the social media trend #5minutecleanup. It’s quick and very effective, and just think if all of us got into this habit!


© Giovanni_Tafa

Guilt free Ice cream

It doesn’t matter if it’s  vanilla or a triple chocolate chip cookie madness, ice cream is EVERYTHING in summer. However, this icy creamy goodness comes packaged in plastic that we unwrap and throw out before devouring it. We can easily avoid this by buying ice cream cones so everything is consumed and no more plastic. Yes please!

Going away

Pack it

It’s not just your luggage that needs to be packed, so does your food. Before heading out make sure to freeze what can be frozen i.e. dairy products, some vegetables, all fruits and more. Soft herbs like basil, mint and parsley don’t hold up well frozen, so chop and mix them with olive oil and freeze in an ice cube tray.  Another option is to see what food items can still be eaten and give them away to a friend or neighbour who will be more than happy to receive them!

Be prepared!

– The city;

A mason jar and a tea towel go a long way. These two items can save you a lot of unnecessary waste. The mason jar is perfect to keep beverages, ice cream scoops, and small snacks, while the tea towel is great to hold bread, croissants, fruits, or lay out for a mini picnic. These take minimal space and can be carried around the city in your favorite tote bag ♡

– Camping;

This requires a bit more preparation. The basic items would be a good water jug which keeps your drinks chilled or hot, as needed. Then reusable cutlery and a compostable plate (made from bamboo or cornstarch; I know incredible!). Finally, your toiletry kit; bamboo toothbrush & holder, toothpaste tablets, deodorant, bug spray, moisturizer, and sunscreen which can all be DIYed.


© GoingZeroWasteBlog

© GoingZeroWasteBlog

Summer is all about having fun, and that’s what our journey to reduce food waste should be about. It’s all about discovering alternatives and being creative with what you have. When I say you it is not just one individual but ALL of you who are reflecting on your personal habits but also the collective potential to make a positive change.

Who’s a self sufficient responsible zero waster? You are!

Sources

Sunscreens Cause Coral Bleaching by Promoting Viral Infections ( Danovaro, R. et al, 2008)

Going zero waste

Cookie and Kate recipes

“Oh c’mon, it’s just one straw” Said 8 billion people.

Straws are made in ten minutes, used up in twenty and stick around in the natural environment for a lifetime. These and other issues regarding waste disposal were discussed at the end of April, on this blog. We dove into the bin, untangled waste, looked into waste streams, researched plastic disposal and drew not-so-rosy conclusions. A world-wide trash epidemic is polluting our groundwater and oceans. Sad news, but that should never be the conclusion! At the beginning of May me and three TBYW’ers took on a challenge to keep as much matter out of landfill as possible: the zero-waste challenge. Halfway through the month I present a personal update and easy tips and tricks for going zero-waste.

As I tend to be  radical, the last thing I disposed on the last day before the journey, was my own trash bin. We took one final walk to the sidewalk in front of my house and after an short goodbye we parted ways. I was ready.

Waste-free travel

My personal zero-waste journey started in Italy. The first day of the challenge was perfectly timed as that was the day that me and my mom went on a week-long camping trip to Sardinia. My first mistake was not telling her about the challenge, as I found a pile of disposable cutlery in her suitcase. Oops! Quickly swapped the plastics for two sets of regular cutlery and we were good to go. Zero-waste on a trip does require some preparational work. Tip one: DIY. To fill your toiletries bag, minimalist packing is the key. I brought my own reusable make-up remover wipes (an old towel cut in round shapes, nothing fancy), DIY waste-free deodorant, DIY waste-free toothpaste (I used the same recipe as deo for efficiency seasons) and a bamboo toothbrush. My deodorant recipe is: coconut oil:baking soda:cornstarch using a 1:1:1 ratio, plus  a few drops of essential oil of your preference.

Depending on your skin, mix and match the ingredients until the effect of the product is optimal for you. I used peppermint essential oil for deodorant because I used the same recipe for toothpaste which is not recommended, I prefer a nice smell such as lemongrass and a bit of tea tree as a deodorant. For travelling, however, I chose efficiency over comfort.

Tip two: pack smart. Bring as much of the essential inventory as you need: think of a reusable coffee-cup, cutlery, sugar, salt/pepper in tiny containers, reusable wipes (an old towel cut into rectangles) etcetera. My dish soap also served the purpose of detergent and did an excellent job. Really, you don’t need a different product for every specific purpose. Such an easy way to save money, weight and space!

Tip three: Leave little room for interpretation when shopping in a foreign country (in which you don’t speak the language). Expressing a clear “no” when at the market the assistants want to put your produce in a plastic bag. Don’t be shy in using non-verbal communication in case you want to use your own reusable linen bag for bread, or your own container to bring olives or cheese. Some shop assistants respond positively, some shop assistant do not approve, to put it lightly. Like when we did our first round of groceries and got our first round of waste in as well.

The lady behind the cashier took the onions and unleashed a waterfall of Italian words that made clear that we weren’t supposed to take loose onions. She stormed out and came back with a plastic net of onions. You can call it a lack of backbone, but we didn’t have the nerve to decline her onions and bought them in the net. I was already proud to resist her clear dissatisfaction over the fact that we hadn’t used plastic bags to cover the rest of the fresh produce in the first place.  In any case: be as clear as you can but don’t worry if it does not work out.

Waste-free alternative to plastic disposable spoons

Tip four: Be easy on yourself. The road towards a zero waste life will only be sustainable if you enjoy it. You won’t enjoy it if you are too hard on yourself, simple as that. It’s fun, it’s an experiment, it’s not about perfection. Don’t think in terms of failing: think in terms of learning curve. This is essential to not feel discouraged if anything unexpected happens. Like when I ordered coffee and got it in a styrofoam cup. Shit (plastic) happens! As long as, instead of using a plastic spoon to stir the coffee you use your sunglasses, it’s not the end of the world. We extended the lifetime of the cup with three rounds of coffee in the morning and wine in the afternoon. After that coffee-flavoured wine (or wine-flavoured coffee) wasn’t enjoyable anymore and the cup was added to the trash.

Zero Waste at home

All-purpose cleaner recipe

After the return it was time to become a waste-free domestic princess. I was already able to do some of my preparations during the first of a series of TBYW zero waste workshops (check out the Facebook for upcoming workshops). The DIY cleaning products workshop provided for the ingredients, bought in bulk from the Soap Queen webshop. We made an all-purpose cleaner and a dish soap.

In the context of step #2 of going zero waste: ‘reduce’, I critically went over my cupboard with cleaning products. Do I really need a different cleaner for the surfaces in my room, the bathroom and the kitchen top? The answer is no. So far All I use is dish soap and the all purpose cleaner and my room is clean so: can confirm, I’m surviving with at least half the cleaning products I thought I needed. This actually goes for many of the different products I use in my life. Once you’ve made an inventory of what those products that you need are, continue to tip five: Make zero-waste swaps. The most important ones to get started are:

eCoffee to-go cup

Tip six is: look up what possibilities there are in your neighbourhood to shop bulk and package-free. The Turkish shops and the markets are by far the most cheap alternatives I have found in my surroundings. For inspiration in the city of Amsterdam, check out https://www.hetzerowasteproject.nl/p/bulk-boodschappenadressen.html to see what you can get where. I went to the Delicious Foods store at the Westerstraat and got a 5% discount for bringing my own bags and jars! Today’s yield: hemp seed, flax seed, tea, chickpeas, coconut flakes, almonds and cashews (the latter three to make my own milk later on: recipes will follow!).

It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: once starting this journey, do not start throwing away wasteful products now that you have them anyway. Use it up, recycle or compost what can be recycled or composted. Your ultimate guide to composting you can find here.

My final tip is to shop second hand. Check your local thrift shop to get what you need, or go to secondhand clothes shops. An online possibility with a range somewhat broader than the Episode vintage-style  is United Wardrobe. When you buy second hand, often you have less/zero packaging and you’ll discard the use of resources that are needed to produce new stuff.

Finally, I can’t emphasize enough how this is not something you do overnight, and you shouldn’t expect that. It really isn’t about doing it perfectly, it is about making an educated decision on what and how you consume, and doing that for the better. You have the power to make choices that will lead to a more sustainable system, everyday. We are so privileged to have such a great range of options to make in what we buy and where that comes from, so why not make a choice that contributes to keeping the planet a bit more free from waste?

If you want to know more and follow some great zero-waste workshops, keep an eye on TBYW’s social media channels https://www.facebook.com/TBYWA/ and join the workshops!  

There is nothing quite like opening a fully stocked and perfectly organized squeaky clean fridge. It becomes a well-chilled sanctuary for our precious food and delectable offerings to our late-night cravings. Yet, this sanctuary at times becomes a cemetery where unfortunately sometimes our food rots. It’s either because it’s forgotten in some part of the fridge, it’s not stored well, it sits in an unclean space, or because of poor grocery planning. However there are things you can do to avoid this and turn your fridge into a tool to avoid and reduce of food waste at home. Here are some tips.

Temperature

Keep it cool.

Set your refrigerator between 1°C to 5 °C. If it’s any warmer, you run the risk of growing harmful bacteria but if it’s any colder some of your food may begin to freeze.

Organising your fridge

Top shelf; Here temperatures are constant so it’s best to keep drinks. Also, this is the first part of the fridge that you’ll look at, so it’s a good idea to keep leftovers stored in clear containers.  

Middle shelves; Keep dairy here. Your milk, yogurts, cheese, and eggs should go here. Also, milk should be put at the back of the shelf since this is the coldest bit.

Bottom shelf; This is the coldest shelf, which makes it an ideal place to store raw ingredients. Things like raw meat and fish should be kept here in tight packaging to avoid dripping and cross-contamination.

Drawer; These tend to retain some moisture which is good for produce. You can place your fruits and vegetables here. If you have multiple drawers, use them to separate ethylene producing fruits and vegetables like apples and avocados, from sensitive ones to avoid quick spoilage.

Door; Even though most refrigerator models come with beverage and egg shelves on their door, this is not a good place to keep them. This part of the fridge is prone to temperature fluctuations and is actually the warmest part of the fridge, so avoid storing highly perishable foods. Instead keep your condiments and well-preserved foods here.

Top of the fridge; Usually this part is quite warm so avoid storing any food here. Instead you can keep some small kitchen appliances and utensils, or just your pile of cookbooks.

© Appliance Service Station Inc.

Storing Principles

FIFO –  First In, First out; Always move the food that is already there, and it closest to expiration date to the front of the shelves. That way you have a better visualisation of what you need to consume first and you’ll make have space in the back for the new groceries. This also helps to avoid finding a stray yoghurt from 3 months ago in the back of the shelf.

Markers. Set. Go; It’s very likely that you are not the only one using the fridge so labelling the shelves into sections can be a helpful way to keep the fridge organised. Food should also be labelled to avoid the ‘What is this, and when did I make it?’, sure a quick sniff can be suggestive of the answer but better to play it safe and just label it.

Air it out; Air needs to circulate in your fridge to avoid parts of the fridge from becoming too warm or too cold. When you over stock your fridge there isn’t enough air circulation and this can create warm or cold pockets causing food to spoil quicker.

Eat-me first!; This is really handy. Just take any organizing box and stick a post-it saying ‘Eat me first!’ then place all the food which is going to perish soon and needs to be eaten. This will convince everyone in the house to reach for these items before trying anything else.

Keep it together; Food keeps for longer when it’s still whole. Meat, fruit, and veggies expire quickly when they have been chopped, sliced and diced. Keep your foods whole until you’re ready to consume them.

Plastic – not – fantastic; The unfortunate trend of plastic wrapped produce is bad for MULTIPLE reasons, one of these being that food actually spoils quicker. Instead use glass containers, paper bags and,  mason jars or a damp tea towel for fresh herbs and leafy vegetables.

Tidy up; In order to keep food good for as long as possible, it’s important that it stays in a clean space. So keep your fridge tidy, clean up any spills and make sure to wash the insides every month.

© Gardner’s Supply Company

While we’ve been talking about what goes in to the fridge, it’s equally important to talk about what doesn’t. This may be to avoid altering the texture or flavour of the food, or even it going bad. It can also be to simply save space and keep a tidy ventilated fridge.

  • Foods you shouldn’t refrigerate; potatoes, onions, garlic, honey, tomatoes
  • Foods that can but don’t need to refrigerated; peanut butter, oils, apples, butter
  • Food you must refrigerate; milk, cheese, eggs, meat

What other tips do you follow to keep your fridge in check and avoid wasting food?

When looking at the way we organize our meals, most of us follow a day-to-day or meal-by-meal logic. While such irregularities have a series of affects on our daily rhythm, this blog post focuses on another seemingly small but still relevant symptom: the waste of food produced due to a lack of planning.

As hunter-gatherers of the 21st century, we daily cross the grocery store, become enthralled by aesthetics or hunger and snatch all these fresh beauties. Sometimes other unanticipated tasks pop up or the laziness kicks in and the meal is not being prepared. Not a problem, the food will still be good the next day. But what about all the other days to come? How can we make sure that the goodies in our fridge and cupboards are not going bad that quickly? How can we plan more efficiently so that as little as possible – or in the best case nothing – goes to waste?

As a food surplus organization we engage with these questions on a daily basis. In doing so, we are always eager to learn and brainstorm with our fellows in the search for best practices, be it through workshops, lectures or panel discussions. Zoe, one of our hosting coordinators, therefore set up a workshop series consisting of three sessions to identify better food surplus management. The first workshop engaged with the question of how to treat your foods appropriately to postpone present symptoms of spoiling. Zoe worked out different guiding themes that play a relevant role in the according planning, and allocated the themes to the workshop tables in the first session. Each group of participants was invited to discuss ideas related to their table theme, followed by a plenary session on more general ideas and know-how from the audience. We were surprised by the many ideas that were brought to the tables, mostly household insider tips and some good old grandma tricks.

In the following you can find an overview of these tips and tricks: 

 

  1. Daily physical check

Check what is in stock: Take a photo or write a list of fridge contents. This helps to avoid buying doubles or unnecessary foodies, which eventually end up in your trash bin.

  1. Supplements

Make a shopping list of things that would complement your stock. For example, use sticky notes or download one of these modern grocery shopping apps!

  1. Resistance

Stay strong towards marketing strategies from supermarkets; don’t give in to ‘buy one and get one for free’ if it doesn’t serve your own consumption well. Also, don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry, which definitely ends up in steering your choices according to the momentary craving for food.

  1. Tailor-made care

Bread: Always keep your bread in paper, never in plastic, and in a dry, dark place instead of the fridge. It will most likely not mold. Moreover, think of ways to process it once it is not fresh and soft anymore. For example, cut slices and put them in the freezer, every time you crave bread you can portion what you need.

Leafy greens, spring onion, leek, and herbs: But them in a glass with water or roll them into a wet towel and but them in the fridge. It keeps them alive like a flower, and it might even keep growing a bit. Alternatively, chop herbs before they go bad and fill them into an ice cube tray with a bit of oil, this way you can always add a dose when you cook and need it.

Bananas, avocados, tomatoes, apples, citrus fruits, peaches, apricots, and nectarines: Keep them outside of the fridge in a dry place; they will keep their taste and durability.

Potatoes and carrots: If possible, keep them in a pot of earth or sand in a dry and dark place, or leave them dirty, they like that!

Most other delicate veggies and fruit like mushroom, broccoli, cherries and berries: These need respectful and delicate treatment, most suitable in the fridge (or freezer, if you want to keep them for later).

  1. Cooling

Also your fridge has different climates, so to say: The coldest spot is at the bottom, which makes it the perfect storing space for veggies (yes, that’s what these plastic drawers are for!) On the top, you can keep your cheese and other foodies that don’t suffer from the minimally higher temperature. In general, keep your raw ingredients at the bottom and away from the cooked food. The door is the warmest area of the fridge, suitable for condiments and juices.

  1. Symbiosis

Vegetables and fruits affect each other’s ripening process when kept in close proximity (they release ethylene gas). For example, ripe bananas will make other fruits and veggies ripen faster, and green apples will make potatoes keep longer. Foods that release ethylene include:

Fruits: Apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, cranberries, figs, honeydew, grapes, mangoes, nectarines, papayas, passion fruits, peaches, pears, persimmons, plums, and prunes.

Vegetables: Green onions and tomatoes.

  1. First In, First Out

Don’t wait until the last moment and organize your fridge so you eat first what went in first.

  1. Measurements

Weigh your dry pasta, rice and grains before cooking to avoid making too much. For an indication, check the packaging or experiment and note down your personal quantity, usually around 50 – 100g dry per person.

  1. Freezer Library

In general, freezers work like a time capsule for fresh food – it locks nutrition and preserves the taste. You can freeze your fruits, coconut milk and curry pastes, as well as cooked meals. Use labels to recognize the icy things in your freezer. Portioning it beforehand will save the hassle to cut frozen food.

Some good old granny tips:

  • When you know you will eat your avocado but it is still too hard, you can wrap it in newspaper and put it in a dry cool place. It should be ready to eat in a day or two. The same goes for bananas.
  • Some say that its better to keep eggs outside of the fridge since it has a natural layer that protects it from going bad. But it depends in which country you live, or if it’s organic or not.
  • When you separate bananas from their bunch, they will continue ripen more slowly.
  • If any of your veggies are looking soggy like carrots or lettuce, soak it in ice-cold water. It will harden it and bring it back to its natural state. Soak flabby salad in ice-cold water right before serving.

We are looking forward to see you at our next sessions!

 

Please note that there are different opinions and perspectives concerning some of the tips we prepared. In most cases, the appropriate treatment depends on factors like temperature, durability and moisture. Try out for yourself and note down what works best in your case. Also, please feel free to comment and share your feedback and tips with us!

The holiday season, most people’s favourite time of year, when chimes are singing, lights are shining, snow is falling and we are warming ourselves with delicious cups of mulled wine and hot chocolate. Nothing could be more perfect. A joyous season that revolves around, happiness, love, friendship, family and the acts of giving. That’s what this holiday season is all about, yet ironically while we give a lot, we also take a lot away. We do that in the form of waste and particularly in the Christmas season we do it in the form of food waste. The most giving time of year, becomes the most wasteful time of year! Starting from all the excess things we buy and the wrapping paper we use, to the food we waste. An interesting fact about wrapping paper is that is is estimated that one country uses enough wrapping paper at Christmas to wrap around the equator nine times, and that’s just one country. But its not just the paper that is the issue, it is also the excessive amount of food we buy, eat, and  eventually throw away. But it doesn’t have to be this way. With a little effort and planning our holiday season can be a joyous, family affair of our childhood dreams, where we are able to give and help without wasting so much, which means we contribute in another useful way, either by redistributing food or reducing environmental impact. So here are some tips and tricks to give you a less wasteful Christmas!

Picture: © Carbon Trust

Step 1: Think Before you buy!

Think before you buy! Do not get carried away by big ideas and elaborate dinner plans. Before you big Christmas dinner shop, open your fridge, freezer and your pantry, really, truly dig deep! You would be surprised how many food items are hidden in the backs of our freezers and pantries. So, start there, look at what you have and then think about getting other items from the shops.

Step 2: Shop smart!

Shop smart, buy as much local, organic food items as you can, your vegetables don’t have to be perfect looking to taste amazing. Visit local farmers’ markets and see what’s on offer and always buy food that’s in season no matter how much you want to make that berry tart, save it for the summer months and make a chestnut pie instead!

Step 3: Plan your meals!

Plan your meals, don’t get carried away, the biggest problem during the holidays is over eating! People always complain about how much food they have eaten. On the other hand all cooks suffer from the same Christmas dinner phobia, not preparing enough food, but let’s face it, if you made half of the food that you are planning to, you would still have leftovers for the next day! So, plan ahead, check how many people are coming, and make only a little bit of extra food in case you have an unknown straggler, but don’t overdo it! If you are still scared, there are app’s that can lend you a hand, such as Yummly which helps you find numerous recipes or Timer+ which helps you deal with cooking times and temperatures. These are just two of many apps, but there is so much more out there.

Step 4: Don’t overbuy!

Don’t buy into that notion and feeling of Christmas shopping mania, all those special deals and offers on foods you would never normally buy, just because it’s cheaper it does not mean you are going to eat it! Most of these things we buy usually end up in the waste bin anyway, so think about what you need to buy and which of it is just excess!

Step 5: Use those Leftovers!

Those glorious left overs, don’t be scared by them, they are a gift if there ever was one! Leftovers mean there is no cooking and cleaning efforts in the next few days and you know that food is good, because you ate it yesterday! If the monotony of the same flavours scares you, then shake it up, leftovers can always be turned into other things, like fun pies or soups. The possibilities are endless, you just have to get a little creative! And don’t forget, to make the most of your leftovers make sure to put them away in appropriate containers as soon as possible, you don’t want to leave them on that Christmas table for hours! So yes, it may be a little extra work, but it’s worth the reduced waste and delicious meals for the next couple of days!

Step 6: Donate!

If you fail to control you inner Christmas  fanatic and you do buy all of that food, don’t freak out! There are always other options! As mentioned, the holidays are a time of giving and receiving, a time of selflessness and love, so whatever food you don’t eat, donate it to those who would appreciate it! You can bring it to local shelters or soup kitchens, or give it to people who you know could use the help. This way you have done more than a good deed this  holiday season! The food disparity gap is far too big these days, so food redistribution is a great effort to combat waste and help those in need!

Step 7: Enjoy and think ahead!

Lastly, have fun, enjoy your Christmas and any other holidays you are celebrating, enjoy your families and all the twinkly lights, but remember, your good deeds don’t have to be reserved for this special month, so think about it and make efforts to prevent future food waste in your home and do what you can to fix that horrible food disparity that is omnipresent in our world. Don’t wait for a Christmas miracle to happen, be your own Christmas miracle and make that difference, however small it is it will always be valuable!

Today in our crowdfunding recipe series we would like to celebrate the oven! A multi use wonderland for any chef or cook, the oven is perhaps the most versatile and helpful tool in the kitchen, and many of those who cook would dare to say one of the most valuable tools. It can commonly be misinterpreted that the oven can only be used for baking or cooking single items in. The oven can serve to roast, to steam, as a dehydrator, a slow cooker and many more functions. Similarly, a wide variety of meals can also be made in the oven starting with breakfast and leading all the way to dinner and dessert. The oven can also be an efficient use of your energy and time as you can use your oven for multiple dishes at the same time and leave food to cook for longer periods of time, providing you more time to do other  things. It is safe to say the oven might just be the magical tool we never knew we had.

In this post I want to set out and show you all the wonderful ways to use the oven and in that way prove why our crowdfunding campaign is so important and that we at TBYW could really use a new oven as an addition to our awesome kitchen. With a new oven we will become more efficient, we will be able to process a lot more vegetables and other foods, which would otherwise end up in dumps or landfill and even more simplistically than that, we will be able to serve you better, tastier food that will wow your taste buds like never before. As is with all things, that which is old must eventually be replaced, the same is the story of our oven, it has served its time long, well and graciously, but now it is definitely time for an upgrade, which we hope our campaign will allow us to do through your donations. If you donate, you will be helping yourself, us, and your neighborhood in fighting the good fight. There is much to be done in the way of reducing food waste, and improving our kitchen brings us one step closer in being able to do things better, faster and tastier. So without further ado, I want to share a couple of recipes and ‘tips and tricks’ on how to use your oven’s magical potential.

Before the recipes, I want to point out a couple of ways to keep your oven efficient while maximizing its potential! When cooking in the oven multitask, cook two or three things at the same time. Keep your oven clean, which will maximize airflow and cook your food faster, which uses less energy. Turn it off before you are finished because the residual heat can remain in your over for a long amount of time meaning your meals can finish cooking while the oven is cooling off. Try not to open the door when its in use as you can loose several degrees of warmth by doing that. Make good use of the racks, they are there for a good reason. So if a recipe indicates the use of the top, bottom or middle rack, do so, because different items cook quicker based on their position in the oven. When you can, cover your dishes as it will increase their cooking speed. These tricks can greatly increase the efficiency of your oven but in a similar fashion, they can improve the quality of your food. In the future, be smart when cooking with your oven, and have fun because we should always enjoy our food. Now that you have your oven knacks, here are two fun and interesting ways to keep some ingredients lasting much longer all with the use of your trusty oven!

Picture: © Casadefruta

Dried Fruits
Dried fruits are delicious, healthy and an incredibly easy way to prolong the shelf life of fruits and some vegetables which you might otherwise throw away. So when you have bought or collected too much fruit, be they apricots, figs, barriers, grapes, tomatoes, etc, the list goes on and on, you can dry the leftovers with these simple steps. You can choose any fruits you fancy and not only will this help you save your fruit from being ruined, it will allow your summer fruit paradise to last slightly longer into your cold, baron winter. Since its best to buy fruits in season, this is a great way to preserve them and make them last even longer. Here are the steps you have to take to make full use of your oven to dry those wonderful fruits:

  1. Wash and dry your fruits (use overly ripe ones or those on the verge).
  2. Remove any pits or seeds and  stems.
  3. Cut them up if that is what you prefer, whole fruits work too, may just take longer to dry.
  4. To keep them looking perfect, take the washed and deseeded fruits and soak them in some water and lemon juice for about 10 – 15 minutes, then remove and dry your fruit.
  5. Make sure your oven is preheated to about 50-70 degrees, when drying you want fairly low temperatures, but you don’t want them too low because the moisture needs to be removed completely.
  6. Put baking parchment on a baking tray and arrange your fruits in single lines and make sure no fruit is in contact as it will slow the drying process. If you wish, cover the fruits with a silicon liner or another baking tin to prevent them from curling up as they dry.
  7. Close your oven door and rotate the fruit every 2 hours.
  8. It is important to know different fruits take different amounts of time to dry. Similarly, people have different preferences, some enjoy that their dried fruit has some flesh left on it, others like a completely dry product, so this part is up to you. A rough guideline for you is that most pitted fruits take around 6-8 hours to dry, while apricots take 10-12 hours and things like citrus peels take about 8-10. But most importantly keep and eye on them, until they reach the dryness level of your reference.
  9. Once you are happy with your fruit take it out of the oven and place in a plastic container to ‘cure’ it, this just means leave the fruit for 4-5 days to sit in the container to ensure that any extra moisture is evaporated. Shake them up once or twice a day and after the 5th day your dried fruit is ready to be devoured. These fruits can last from 10 months to a year, so you have plenty of time to enjoy your easy oven dried treats, but lets face it, if you are anything like me they will be devoured in days or maybe even hours!

Picture: © The Guardian

Breadcrumbs/Croutons
Who doesn’t love a good crouton in their soup or salad? And what is a crouton? Bread! Bread is one of the most commonly disposed foods, dubbed a basic item, bread gets thrown away on a daily basis. Since it is not considered a fancy or luxurious item, people have no issues with wasting bread, which seems absurd since leftover bread has so much potential to be made into so many wonderful things which include luscious meals such as: french toast (which is always best with older bread) bread and butter pudding, crumbs, croutons and so many more options. In this post I want to introduce you to the wonderful world of breadcrumbs and croutons. Since I can remember, my grandmother has been making breadcrumbs in this old fashioned, non wasteful, delicious way. All you need is old bread and an oven! It couldn’t be simpler, yet you can change it up in so many ways. My grandma has thought me many tricks in the kitchen and I am always taken aback by her ability to waste little to none food. This practice stemming from her childhood where they could not afford to waste food, has remained in her psyche for years to come. In her words, “why waste something that’s perfectly good?” I think we all could learn a thing or two from that and because of her innovative yet ‘old school’ way of dealing with food I want to share her bread ways with you, not to mention she makes amazing loaves! But back to those leftovers.

Picture: © Blenderbabes

For the most basic breadcrumbs or croutons all you need is to take your old bread and cut it up into even cubes of your preference, the smaller the cubes the quicker the drying time. What you want to do is lay out these cubes onto a baking sheet and put them in a dry dark space until the bread naturally starts to harden, this way you are starting the crumbing process without using all the extra energy but make sure it does not start to mold, which is why you need a dark dry place. Once your bread starts to harden after a day or two you can now put your oven on a low setting, about 50-70 degrees which will start toasting it. Keep checking on your bread every 15 minutes or so and when you have perfectly golden crunchy bread squares you know they are ready to come out. Now you can leave them as they are or you can take them and grind them up finely into prefect breadcrumbs which will last you for months. However, if you are in more of a rush and don’t have a day or two for drying, you can take those chopped bread leftover cubes and immediately put them in a baking sheet and drizzle them with olive oil and any herbs/spices that you fancy and put them in the oven at around 180-200 degrees for about 10 minutes. Make sure you check on them as they can burn easily and nobody likes a burnt crouton. I have played around with countless  variations, where I have added Parmesan cheese or dried tomatoes and herbs to spice up my croutons. When you are pressed for time, this faster technique works like a charm, thanks to your trusty old oven.

These are just two of hundreds of techniques and ways to use your wonderful oven, so don’t stop there keep exploring and paying great respect to this wonderful machine. Keep, roasting, baking, steaming, dehydrating and anything else you fancy, but don’t forget to be mindful of the waste you could be avoiding by using the oven in a clever way. And don’t forget, talk to the people in your life, they may surprise you with the knowledge of old or new tips and tricks on how to make delicious but non wasteful meals. I sure am going back to talk to my grandma because I know there is a lot more where these recipes came from. And last but certainly not least, don’t forget to support our kickstarter efforts on YOU CARING as every little effort counts, the more you donate the sooner our oven becomes a reality. So keep cooking and keep sharing, so we can make a difference together.

 

To go along with our crowdfunding endeavor, we decided to start a crowdfunding recipe series! This series will outline healthy, no waste vegan and vegetarian recipes that showcase and outline the use of certain cooking equipment that we at Taste Before You Waste need to buy and use. These recipes will showcase to he usefulness of these appliances and hopefully encourage or influence you to help us raise the money to buy them. In this way we will be able to work with more food and thus prevent more food items from going to waste. We want you to become aware of the foods you are eating and what you are wasting. As a small digression to show you what we are talking about,  I want to point out Wasted: The story of food waste! a movie created by Anthony Bourdain -a famous chef and adventurer – which outlines the absurdity of food waste that exists throughout the world. The aim of this documentary is to involve the cooking community, chefs and restaurateurs to show people that they can make delicious, nutritious and non wasteful meals out of food that most us would throw away. It’s an incredibly smart film, which uses the power and knowledge of the world’s most famous chefs to identify that there is a problem. It seems paradoxical, as most high end chefs and restaurants usually make a lot of food waste, but it is precisely why this film matters. These people are stepping up and saying we have a problem! They are the leading faces in the food industry and so maybe people will listen to what they have to say! Bourdain has put his twist on the movie and without a doubt it will be the fast paced all immersive experience that he always provides in his documentaries and series! So go watch the movie, get inspired and come back to this recipe series. Not only make the recipes that we will present for you, but get out there and make a change in your life, in your neighborhood, city or town and join us at TBYW to support our crowdfunding campaign where you can win some of our ‘merch’ and other incredible gifts. Similarly, be aware of our t-shirt design competition where the winning shirt will be featured in our crowdfunding campaign, so if you design a shirt and support our campaign you and your friends can win and wear that shirt with pride. So without further ado lets talk about the mighty food processor!

As mentioned, one of our most needed appliances in our TBYW kitchen is the mighty food processor! The best friend of any cook or chef and especially any vegetarian and vegan. It is a very versatile machine which can make, dough’s, pastes, juices, crumbs and more. It acts as a slicer, a juicer, a dough kneading machine all in one. It allows us to make wonderfully tasting food for a large amount of people which is exactly what we need at TBYW. The processor is useful in all thee meal stages! It’s very good for starters, mains and desserts! As I mentioned it has an array of functions as it slices and chops vegetables, grinds nuts, seeds, dried fruits and more. It can shred cheese or vegetables, it can puree and mix dough! Thus for us and for you, the possibilities are endless with this machine, so help us get our hands on one of these incredible machines and donate in our crowdfunding page which opens November 1st on YOUCARING, so be there to help us make an even bigger difference! As an example of the usefulness of this machine I would like to present you with this beautiful and delicious dessert recipe in which you can indulge your taste buds for days to come! If you have any cashews lying around and you don’t know what to use them for, this delicious peanut butter teat is perfect for you!

The first recipe of the series is Peanut butter mini cheesecake!

Picture: Eden Recipes

For the crumb:

  • 280 grams of any dairy biscuit (can be gluten free) I used oreos
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil

For the filling

  • 225 grams of cashews (soaked for a few hours or overnight and drained)
  • 60 ml of lemon juice
  • 70 grams of coconut oil (melted)
  • 140 ml of coconut milk (better if you can use the separated cream from the top but the whole milk works too)
  • 118 ml of maple syrup or honey (use 170g of honey)
  • 85 grams of peanut butter (use a natural organic PB crunchy or smooth)

For the ganache:

  • 130 grams of dairy free vegan dark chocolate
  • 3 tablespoons of coconut milk

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 ℃.
    Blitz your biscuits in your Food Processor until you have a nice crumb, then add the 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Mix on low     until blended.
  2. Line your muffin tin with muffin liners or baking parchment. Use one tablespoon of the crust mixture to line the bottom of the muffin liners. Spread the mixture with the back of your spoon until its nice and even.
  3. Bake the crust for about 4-5 minutes.
  4. Add the cashews, lemon juice, coconut milk (or cream scooped from the top), coconut oil, maple syrup or honey and peanut butter to the food processor and mix until its blended and smooth. Your mixture must be perfectly smooth, without any lumps or bits.
  5. Pour evenly onto into the muffin tin, on top of the baked cookie crusts.
  6. For the ganache, bring the 3 tablespoons of coconut milk to a simmer in a saucepan. Once hot pour over the chocolate chips and leave to sit for a couple of minutes. Then stir the mixture together until it is nice and smooth.
  7. Spread the ganache onto your cheesecakes, as much or little as you want.
  8. Top the cheesecakes with any chocolate or PB cups you like and freeze for a coupe of hours.
  9. Take them out of the freezer when ready to eat, let them sit for 10 minutes and enjoy your frozen cheesecake wonder treat!

Wasted Trailer: