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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!

How The Freezer is My Weapon of Choice in The Battle Against Food Waste

I spend about a year trying to convince my friends to freeze their bread, after finding green, white, hairy unrecognisably moldy filled bags on countertops one too many times. Now that I’ve finally succeeded, it’s time for me to share my love for the freezer with the rest of the world and to “educate the crowd” (as TBYW always encourages people to do).

Leaving the warm and loving home of my parents to study in Amsterdam forced me to be responsible of my own grocery shopping. Not only did I have to start preparing my own meals, I also had to plan ahead and keep track of the food hidden in the back of my fridge. Leaving a loaf of bread on the kitchen counter did not nearly work as well as it did at home, there was no always-hungry brother to eat eight slices a day. I lived alone and after some time the bread went dry, a little later it got that lovely shade of green we all fear.

This unfortunate event helped me realise I could not live with green bread for the next three years. While they do sell half loafs of bread, even these were too much for me to consume within its life time. This is when the freezer came into the picture. I could buy full loafs (because this is cheaper compared to half loafs) without worrying about having to dispose it at the end of the week. Now each morning I take two slices out of the freezer, let it defrost for 10 minutes and I get to enjoy fresh tasting bread each and every time! If you simply cannot wait for the bread to defrost, don’t worry, you can always heat it up in the microwave, oven or toaster for a fast and delicious fix.

Unfortunately my struggles with rotten food didn’t end with bread. Grocery shopping for one person is difficult and often leads to more food than I can eat by myself. Again the freezer came to my rescue. After two years I consider myself to be a serious freezer expert (AKA I’ve become very skilled at stacking as much food as possible in my 16L freeze compartment). Therefore, I will now share exactly what can be frozen in order to save both food and money!

  1. Cheese

I love cheese, however consuming a whole block can sometimes be a challenge. When I know it’s towards the end of its consumption life-time I grate it up and put it in a bag in the freezer. The frozen cheese is still perfect  for pasta or oven dishes. It is also possible to freeze entire blocks of cheese.

  1. Sauces and soups

When I cook and entire pan of pasta sauce, curry or soup, it lasts for days! However, eating the same thing day after day is a little boring as it lacks variety. I usually leave one portion in the fridge to consume within the next three days. The rest goes into portion sized containers and gets stacked in the freezer. Move the frozen container into the fridge the night before you plan to consume it and you’ve got yourself a home cooked meal the next day.

  1. Oven dishes 

Oven dishes such as lasagne, mac and cheese or other casseroles can all go into the freezer. Again, I put these in individual portions and heat them up in the oven once they are defrosted.

  1. Baked goods 

Pies, cakes, and cookies can be put in the freezer for up to 3 months.

  1. Pastries and dough

Have left over shortcrust pastry? Want fresh cookies whenever you like? Leftover dough and pastry can easily be frozen for up to three months. Last week I made a tart with the same pastry I used for my birthday’s lemon meringue pie, note: my birthday is in February. If you want fresh cookies 24/7 you can freeze balls of cookie dough and bake them anytime you want. Just make sure you freeze them separately before you add them in a bag together so they don’t stick. Bake them approximately two minutes longer than you normally would for the best results.

  1. Broths and stocks 

Like soups and sauces, this is also perfectly freezable. If you want to know more about making your own stock, be sure to check out this blog post by Sophie!

  1. Juice and smoothies

Lemon juice, apple juice, all juice, every juice. Freeze them! But not in a glass bottle, because liquids expand during freezing which can cause the glass to break.

  1. Fruits and veggies 

Just like the cookie dough it’s best to first freeze it separately before adding it together in a bag. Frozen fruits are great for smoothies and ice cream! The vegetables might lose their crispiness in the freezer and become a little soggy, however, they are still perfect for soups, sauces, or green smoothies.

  1. Meat, fish and meat replacements

You can freeze this both cooked and uncooked.

  1. Milk and butter

This was a real discovery for me! Milk was the product that I had to discard most often, and that’s not a problem anymore. Just make sure you shake your milk well before you use it. I would also not suggest freezing milk if you plan to drink it. It’s best to use it for baked goods and pancakes after it has been frozen. You can just let the butter defrost in the fridge and it should be good to go.

  1. Bread

What would my list be without bread? All breads can be frozen; also baked items such croissants can go into the freezer. And the best part is, if you freeze it when it’s fresh, it will taste fresh when you take it out!

Some (in my opinion) important food items you should not put in the freezer:

  1. Yogurt and sour cream

These two products completely change texture in the freezer, not very nice.

  1. Potatoes

Due to their high water content, freezing uncooked potatoes doesn’t work very well; however, mashed potatoes or potato curry can definitely be frozen.

While it may have taken me a year to convince my stubborn friends, I hope many of you will be convinced right away. Give the freezer a chance by freezing at least one item on the list that you’ve never frozen before, the benefits may surprise you!

Finally, for the longest time I believed that items could not be frozen twice. While this is true for many things, such as raw meats etc. This is not true for bread! Even though it may become drier every time you freeze it, it can definitely be refrozen. Besides, dry bread is perfect for those amazing bread balls we all love so much. So what are you waiting for? Love your freezer and freeze, freeze, freeze!

 

Photo: mariña casas

The Last Wasteless Wednesday Dinner took place when the sun was shining brightly from a cloudless sky. Few citizens found their way to Dokhuis Galerie to enjoy our dinner made out of surplus food. The ones who did, enjoyed it! We proudly share our recipes for all of you who did not make it because you were working on your tan in a park, for all of those who simple want healthy recipe inspirations, and of course for our lovely guests who were there. We prepared a three course meal solely out of rescued fruits and veggies that otherwise would have been discarded. In our starter, a Gazpacho Andaluz, we work with old bread and squeezed tomatoes. In the main dish, baked potatoes with cauliflower stew and warm beans, we cooked with canned beans that could not be sold anymore. Finally in our dessert, a tropical fruit salad, we give bananas with a brown peel a second chance. We believe that food has value – even after its expiration date or when it does not look perfect anymore. Give it a chance too! You will be surprised how yummy second chances are.

(c) Roel van Bakkum & Iris Hesse

Some fruits and vegetables should not be stored next to each other because they influence each other’s ripening process. What causes the fast ripening? Who influences whom? Which fruits and veggies are bad neighbours? Find it out in this week’s blogpost. If you store your products advisedly, they will last longer. Subsequently you won’t have to discard food because it went bad faster than you expected. Read, think, and fight food waste:

What causes the fast ripening? – Ethylene

Ethylene is a naturally occurring gas which is odourless, and colourless. Some fruit produce this gas during their ripening process, therefore it is also called a ripening hormone. Its main effect is the softening of fruits and vegetables. Ethylene makes your bananas sweet and your peaches smell deliciously. On the other hand it can cause plants to die. This is due to the fact that ethylene decreases the plant’s chlorophyll. What effect occurs is depending on the condition and characteristics of the plant. In short: For some organism the gas might be harmful, for others beneficial. Its advantage of stimulating the ripening process is commercially used. Tomatoes, pears, and bananas are usually harvested before they are ripe. Under controlled temperature conditions, certain humidity levels and ethylene they can be ripened. This means that they ripe in the same pace which results in an uniform appearance.

Which fruits and veggies produce large quantities of ethylene?

If you keep those fruits close to other fruits and veggies, they will ripen faster. You can use that knowledge if you want to stimulate the ripening process of unripe fruits. Keep in mind: Storing fruits and veggies that produce high quantities of ethylene in the fridge before they are ripe might lead to a loss of taste. Be especially careful with avocados, bananas, and tomatoes. They won’t develop their full taste under cool fridge conditions. That would be a shame!

Which fruits and veggies produce small quantities of ethylene?

You can store these fruits and vegetables close to each other. They won’t influence each other’s ripening process because they do not produce a lot of the ripening hormone.

Bad Neighbours are fruits and:


Be aware of what type of fruit causes others to ripen quicker. Also take a look on our article about how to keep fruits and veggies longer. Last remark on food storage: Separate potatoes and onions! Potatoes sprout quicker if onions are kept close. However, feel free to put apples and potatoes next to each other. Apples slow down the sprouting of potatoes. If you keep this in mind, you will be delighted by their long life and enjoy perfectly edible fruits and veggies for a long time. Tell your family and friends! Help us to spread awareness about unnecessary food waste.

For more detailed information on the fruit ripening gas ethylene click here.

(c) Mariña Casas

(c) Mariña Casas

At the last Wasteless Wednesday Dinner of March we served a two course meal instead of the usual three courses. This was due to the fact that the food pick-up was not as successful as the week before. Therefore you could enjoy a main and a dessert. Did your bellies get full though? Oh yes! And was it yummy as well? No need for asking this question… Ja hoor! Of course! Let me tell you how we prepared this Wasteless Wednesday Dinner:

Curried roots and rice

The main dish had the characteristics of a classic curry: bright colours, a wide variety of spices, and an enchanting smell. Curry recipes can be very different all around the world; however they often refer to soupy dishes. Some might be sweeter, others a hint sour. We at Taste Before You Waste always cook with the ingredients we have in our storage. This time we prepared a savoury curry out of various roots. This recipe serves two people.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large onion
  • 2 gloves of garlic
  • 1 cm ginger
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 6 purple, black, white, yellow, or red carrots
  • 200 ml water
  • one cup or 150 gram of Basmati rice
  • Salt
  • Curry mix or prepare your own blend of turmeric, chili, coriander, cumin seeds, saffron, cardamom, cinnamon, and fenugreek
  • Oil
  • Two cups or 300 ml of water to cook the rice

Method:

  • Peel the ginger, the onion and the garlic and chop them.
  • Pre-heat oil in a pot and roast ginger, onion and garlic.
  • Add the curry mix or your self-made spice blend.
  • Peel the carrots and cut them into chunks. Add them to the pot and roast for 5 minutes.
  • Add chopped tomatoes and water. Let it simmer on low heat. The carrots are done after 15 minutes.
  • Rinse your rice.
  • Bring two cups or 300 ml of water to boil and add the rice.
  • Cook the rice following the instructions on the packaging. Rice is done when it is tender.
  • Tip: Curry is best when you cook it very slow. The ingredients will develop its full taste even better.

Potatoes and green bean salad

As a side dish we served a rich salad made out of potatoes and green beans. The lemon dressing added a hint of fruity freshness. This salad will fill two bellies:

Ingredients:

  • 4 potatoes
  • 100 gram of green beans
  • 1 onion
  • 1 glove of garlic
  • 1 organic lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Method:

  • Bring water to boil and add the potatoes. Start checking if they are done after 30 minutes.
  • In the meantime you prepare the dressing. Wash and dry the lemon. Grate the peel off and finely chop it. Squeeze the lemon and put it together with the peel into a bowl. If you don’t have an organic lemon, only use the lemon juice. Conventional lemons might have pesticides in their peel.
  • Add a minced garlic glove and the finely chopped onion. Season it with salt, pepper, and olive oil. The longer you leave the dressing, the more tasteful it gets.
  • Peel the potatoes and slice them into five millimetre thick chips.
  • Bring water to boil and cook the green beans for 10 minutes.
  • Add the potatoes and the green beans to the dressing.
  • Serve lukewarm.
(c) Mariña Casas

(c) Mariña Casas

Tony Chocoloney´s bread-balls

We made a chocolate sauce from all the Tony Chocoloney’s chocolate milk that we got donated. As if this would not be yummy enough, we prepared crunchy muesli bread-balls. Bread-balls and warm chocolate sauce combined were an eye-opening experience. Mhhhm! The recipe serves four people, or two people who want to eat a lot of the dessert, which I could totally understand…

Ingredients:

  • 300 ml of chocolate milk
  • 100 gram of corn flour
  • 250 gram blueberries
  • 120 gram sugar
  • 150 gram old bread
  • 150 gram müsli
  • 180 ml oat-milk
  • 80 ml oil
  • 80 gram any (dried) fruits

Method:

  • Pre-heat the oven at 180 ° C.
  • Cut the bread into chunks and soak them in oat-milk.
  • Add müsli, oil, and any fruit you like.
  • Knead the mix and form balls. If the mix is too dry, add more oat-milk or water.
  • Bake the bread-balls until they are crunchy. Check them after 15 minutes.
  • Heat the blueberries in a pot; add sugar, and corn flour. Stir until it becomes a sauce.
  • Slowly melt the chocolate in another pot and add 50 gram of corn flour. Stir until it gets a creamy texture.
  • Serve the bread-balls warm and pour chocolate sauce as well as the blueberry sauce over it. Enjoy!
(c) Mariña Casas

(c) Mariña Casas

53 portions were served at the last Wasteless Wedensday Dinner. You also want to feast with us? Our Wasteless Wedensday Dinner take place every week. We are looking forward to fight food waste with you!

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