Yes, I eat bones off strangers’ plates (and other food wastage tips)

As I explained in my Simplicious Food Waste Cheat Sheet for Trolls post last week, in my latest book, I Quit Sugar: SIMPLICIOUS, I plug doggie bags, double dunk my teabags and cook up my friends’ fish bones into stock, all of which apparently leaves some a little uncomfortable.

Last night's dinner with an egg stuck on top
Last night’s dinner with an egg stuck in the middle

But it’s necessary. And non negotiable. Food waste is the biggest pollution issue on the planet, surpassing industry and car emissions. And the biggest contributors to that wastage are consumers. 

Anyone gagging to make a difference to where our planet is at can start by not wasting food. It really is that simple. 

These are some of the things I do. Feel free to add to the list in the comments below and I’ll run a follow up post.

1. I don’t buy more until I’ve finished what I already have. I completely run out of yoghurt before I set out to buy another, that way I find myself using up the last of the sour cream or cheese in the interim.

2. I eat the WHOLE food. This means the apple with the core, and even the leaves from beetroot bunches (with oil, pepper and salt). Ditto the leaves from cauliflower and broccoli and daggy vegetables like swede, choko, and celeriac.

3. I don’t peel anything. When my veggies look lackluster, I make a big soup with lentils and bacon thrown in for flavour and protein. 

4. I ignore “best before” labels. The use-by date tells you when a food must be eaten for health and safety reasons, whereas the best-before date gives a rough indication of when it’s best to eat. Many countries have actually removed the “best before” date because they cause totally unnecessary food tossing. I ignore them. You should, too. 

5. I use drippings. I use last night’s meat to sweat my veggies, thus adding the right fats for absorbing the essential vitamins.

6. I rescue fish carcasses and chicken bones. I take them from my guests’ plates at dinner parties to make stock. My friends know me well enough to dump all their scraps onto my plate straight up.

7. I look for imperfect veggies. Most supermarkets now stock these deformed “rejects” at a portion of the price of the pretty picks and it saves them from being thrown out! If you’re not using your veg as props for an oil painting, always choose the rejects.

8. I re-use ziplock bags. I wash them, stick them onto my kitchen window, or splashback to dry them out.

9. I regenerate food. This way I create a perpetual kitchen. I explain this concept in full inI Quit Sugar: Simplicious.

10. I ask for a doggy bag when I don’t finish my meal at a restaurant. I mix the leftovers with veggies from the back of my fridge and stick an egg on top for a mishmash meal.

11. I buy discount meats, hard cheese and smallgoods in bulk. Perishable items are often discounted a few days before their “best before” date. I buy up and freeze what I can’t use straight away. Mince is a great one to buy when it’s discounted. I turn it into meatballs and freeze them immediately.

12. I slow cook. It’s the most sustainable (and nutritious) way to prepare your meals. Did you know that a slow-cooker uses less energy than a light bulb?

13. I cook cheap cuts-offs, offal and other unpopular parts of an animal. They’re cheaper, sustainable and often more flavoursome and nutritious.

14. I keep my freezer full. It’s more energy efficient that way, as solids freeze at a lower temperature than air.

15. I buy seasonally and locally. If it’s not in season you shouldn’t be eating it for a whole bunch of reasons – health, carbon miles and undercutting local farmers. Buying asparagus from Mexico or pink grapefruit from Peru is criminal.

16. I use the brine or oil from olives, anchovies or marinated feta as a salad dressing. Brine from canned tuna can be repurposed to sautee veggies and almost empty mustard jars become dressing shakers, to use up the very last bits.

17. I create different scrap bags in the freezer. I add vegetable and fruit cut-offs, herb stalks and other scraps as I go along. I have one for vegetable stock, chicken and fish stock, a leftover pesto bag and a smoothie bag.

18. I regrow the cut-off roots of the veggies and herbs I cooked with. This works with shallots, coriander and lemongrass, bok choy, celery and cos lettuce, ginger and turmeric. You can even repurpose the top of a pineapple to grow a hipster-esque palm plant!

What do you do to do your part? I would love to hear your tips in the comments below.


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