12 hacks to reduce food waste and save money

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  • Try these simple tricks to reduce food waste, that'll help save money and the planet.

    Every one of us wastes around 500 calories of food a day, according to Dutch researchers. New studies published in the journal Plos One, found that common estimates for global food waste are too low.

    But there’s plenty more we could be doing with our kitchen scraps to reduce the amount we throw away, says food-waste expert Emilie Vanpopering, co-founder of Oddbox, London’s first and only food-waste-fighting fruit and veg box. Here are his top tips…

    Make pesto

    Whip up a tasty sauce from any leftover greens. Rocket or spinach that’s been left a little long and is starting to wilt? Into the food processor. Herb stalks? In they go. Beet and carrot top greens? Bosh – the perfect homemade pesto.

    Create a casserole

    A rich, saucy casserole or stew is the perfect dish for using up any veg left in the fridge at the end of the week. Wilted greens, celery ends, that left-over half a pepper. Toss them all into a heavy bottomed pan along with any beans you have in the pantry, a can or two of chopped tomatoes and some stock. Add a handful of grains or pulses for a bit of bulk.

    Stir up a stock

    Every time you make a meal throughout the week, instead of throwing all the organic waste into the compost bin, pop it into a container in the freezer instead. Root veg peelings, carrot tops, onion skins, mushroom stalks and herb stems.

    At the end of the week empty everything into a heavy bottomed pan, season with salt and cover with plenty of water, maybe add a bay leaf or two and some turmeric. Then simply bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for a couple of hours.

    Use cauliflower leaves

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    Use cauliflower leaves

    Don’t ditch them. When roasted, cauliflowers crisp up nicely and, with a dash of your favourite spices, work great as your side of greens with dinner. They can also be steamed or chopped and tossed into a stir fry with some garlic.

    End-of-the-jar vinaigrette

    When you’re scraping the bottom of the jar you know that you’ll never quite be able to get everything out. By adding some oil, a vinegar and a bit of seasoning you can shake it all up into a delicious vinaigrette for your salads. Tahini?

    Add olive oil, chopped garlic, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper and a dash of sumac. Mustard? Olive oil, red wine or apple cider vinegar, honey and seasoning. Jams and preserves? Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, shallots and fresh thyme work great.

    Fruit-end infused water

    This is such a simple way to make use of strawberry tops, orange or lemon peel and ginger scraps. Simply add to your water and leave in the fridge to infuse overnight. Next day you’ll have a refreshing, flavour-filled water. Try experimenting with flavour combinations too, maybe adding some herb stalks for a twist. It’ll take great, and ensure you’re hydrated.

    Eat the banana skin

    Yes. That’s right – it turns out you can eat the entire banana, skin and all. It might not sound the most a-peel-ing (had to be done!) but if you wait for your bananas to ripen well the skin will be thin and sweet. Simply give them a good wash and add them to your morning smoothie for some extra fibre. They also make a great chutney.

    Infuse your grains

    Left with herb stems once you’ve used the leaves? Add them to the pot when simmering up your grains. They bring a great hint of flavour to your quinoa, rice or couscous once cooked

    Reduce food waste brocollli soup

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    Broccoli stalk soup

    That’s right, broccoli is not just good for its florets, you can actually make use of the whole head. Hold onto those stalks and boil up with some root veg and stock for a quick, tasty and filling creamy, green soup. Yum! Got some cheese that needs eating as well? Treat yourself to this classic stilon and brocolli soup.

    Make use of those citrus skins

    Never throw out peelings from oranges, lemons and grapefruits again! Boiled up with sugar and water you can make candied peel or a citrus-infused syrup for baking. Top up with boiling water or dry them out to use at a later date for a fragrant tea.

    Potato peel chips

    Take the peelings from any root veg and you can create a quick and easy, more-ish snack. To make potato peel chips, give your peelings a good rinse and pat them dry, pop into a roasting tray with a good drizzle of oil, salt and maybe some smoky paprika or cumin. Roast in the oven until deep golden brown and crispy, then tip directly into a serving bowl. They’re best eaten warm.

    Ginger tea

    Next time you use ginger in a stir fry or curry, add the peelings and ends to a mug of hot water. Leave to brew for five minutes for a steaming ginger tea that’s super tasty and also a great aid for digestion.