Last month, I shared some of the best fruits and veggies that you can eat root to stalk. In keeping with that “zero food waste” theme, I have a special guest from We The Parents here to share more fabulous ways to save money by upcycling your family food waste. Check it out!
For three years now, our family has set a New Year’s goal which we attempt as a group. Our 2018 goal is to go “zero waste”. Essentially, we are aiming to send nothing to landfill, reduce what we need, and reuse as much as we can. What’s left is either recycled or turned into compost. Going zero waste has been an enormously fun challenge which the kids love it. Each day they are becoming more mindful of the planet we inhabit and how live responsibly on it. Our family is also seeing an improvement in quality of life; we eat better, feel better, and save money.
The most enjoyable and exciting part of this adventure is definitely upcycling our family food waste. This is hands-on, creative, and a highly visceral learning experience for the children. In America, we waste one third of all food produced. Yikes! In fact, food is the single biggest constituent of landfill; therefore, this is a great place to start if you want to reduce your family footprint. With upcycling food waste, I’d always recommend you start slowly, one step at a time. Here are some simple tips to get you going:
What you’ll need
Two food containers or freezer bags. One for sweet, the other savory. That’s it!
When you cook a meal, instead of trashing the vegetable off-cuts, pop them in your ‘veggie freezer bag’. This can include carrot peels/ends, beet peels/ends, broccoli stalks, mushroom stalks, celery leaves, etc… almost anything!
Let the kids get creative. With a bit of Googling, you’ll soon know whether any part of any vegetable is ultimately edible.
Next try these…
- Veggie broth/stock: Start by chopping fresh onion, carrot, and celery. Then heat in a pan with oil. Once tender, throw in your scraps, or “special bits” as we like to call them! (Avoid broccoli and cauliflower for this one.) You can add thyme, parsley, or even ginger to the mix. Add boiling water and leave simmering for 45 mins. Pour through a fine mesh strainer and, voila! You have a delicious stock which you can add to soups or cook with rice.
- Carrot/beet crisps: Use the end-cuts of carrots/beets. Sauté for a tasty side dish, or shallow fry with olive oil to make yummy veggie crisps.
- Broccoli stalk strips: The stalk makes up about half the weight of a broccoli – it’s far too precious to waste. Chop it into thin strips, then freeze. The next time you cook a stir-fry, throw your broccoli strips into the mix (treat them much like the florets).
Just like veggies, get into the habit of saving and freezing fruit off-cuts. Whenever berries go squishy, or a banana goes brown, add these to your ‘fruit freezer bag’ too.
- Ready-made smoothies: Post workout smoothie? Your frozen fruit scraps are ready to go. Just add milk, soy, or almond milk. (It even comes out icy!)
- Citrus peel shoe deodorizers: Yup, it works. Just pop some citrus peels into your gym shoes overnight. In the morning, they’ll smell considerably better.
- Pulp granola (or cereal): If you juice or make your own baby food, never throw away the pulp. It’s super versatile and full of goodness. For breakfast, try putting your kids’ granola/cereal into a mason jar or tub. Add the pulp and give it a good shake. Now serve it sweet and fruity. (You might not need extra sugar – bonus.)
What bread waste? It’s quick and easy to put stale bread to good use.
- Croutons or bruschetta: Simply chop to size and shallow fry with olive oil until crispy. Done!
- Plant food: Crush it up and mix it into your houseplants’ soil. Microbes will soon gobble the crumbs, turning them into extra nutrients for your plants.
- Bird food: Mix equal parts of breadcrumbs, birdseed, and peanut butter. Now place into a bird feeder and watch the action.
Upcycling your food waste is one of the best ways to begin the journey toward “zero waste”. It is both educational and fun for the whole family. Once they get into it, you’ll be amazed at how creative and innovative children are. Oh, and it’s possible to lower your food costs by 10-20% – that should put a smile on your face too.
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