Zero Waste Kitchen: easy ways to reduce your food waste

London has long been hailed as one of the most diverse and exciting cities in the world when it comes to food and us Londoners sure do love our nosh. But do we follow mother’s advice and clear everything on our plates, or rather our fridges? Or does a large percentage of our weekly shop end up in the bin? Yes, we’re all guilty for doing a shop and then being enticed into after work drinks and dinner, fully knowing we have a fridge full of food about to go out of date at home.

Food waste has become a hot topic over the last few years, both for those trying to save money and those trying to save the planet. Instagram is now full of ‘zero wasters’ sharing their apparently zero waste lifestyle with us.

Yet, despite this increase in awareness the amount of edible food we bin in the UK each year continues to rise; currently sitting at 7.3 million tonnes. When we waste food, it is not only the end product that goes to waste, so does everything it takes to get that food into our fridges; the water, the land, the money.  Possibly the most astonishing fact of all; 24% of global agricultural freshwater is used to grow food that is never eaten. What’s more if global food waste was a country, it would have the largest carbon footprint after the US and China.  Many respected sources now believe that, as our climate continues to change, the next world war will be fought over water. If that’s not motivation enough to cut down your food waste I don’t know what is.

But we’re busy, and we don’t want to miss out on a spontaneous few wines and dinner with the pals at that great little pop-up in soho. And why should we!

The clever people at Santa Barbara-based start-up Apeel Sciences say that they have invented edible coatings that can extend a fruit or vegetable's shelf life by as much as five times. That means, if you spray it on a strawberry that's starting to look past its best it will last about a week longer than normal. Made of leftover plant skins and stems from organic produce, the coatings act as barriers that slow down the decay process. To reap these miraculous results two different coatings must be applied to combat the factors that cause decay:

1.      Edipeel - keeps water from leaving the produce and oxygen from entering

2.      Invisipeel - keeps insects away

Pretty amazing stuff! Unfortunately for us these wonder coatings are still being tested and not yet available for purchase, so, until they come to the masses I guess we’ll stick with some more traditional ways of reducing food waste. Our top 5 tips below:

1.     Shop mindfully

The weekly shop. Always seems like a good idea; plan your meals for the week, make resolutions to eat healthy and stay home every evening to save your hard earned cash. It never happens does it and that thinking can be unnecessarily wasteful. Shop for the food you need for the day; not only does this mean the food you eat is fresher, it saves food sitting around and spoiling. Shopping mindfully and in small quantities saves both money and the excessive paper and plastic of family-sized packaging.

2.      Use and Re-use

There are many parts of vegetables that we typically do not use; for example, those that grow in the ground have leafy shoots growing above ground that have great nutritional value. Purchase your veg with these shoots on and use them in other recipes such as smoothies and soups for a nutrient boost. You can also use inedible vegetable scraps, like stems, to make stocks. And if you’re a lucky city dweller with some green space, use your scraps to grow new plants. Pineapples, garlic, potatoes, and other plants can regenerate with little effort.

3.     Compost

We know it’s likely you don’t have a garden but we do know that often grocers, restaurants, city farms or community gardens accept your leftovers to create healthy soil for new food. Community composting is one of the most sustainable ways of managing food waste. Once you’ve found somewhere, store your waste vegetables and fruit in bags in the freezers and once you’ve accumulated a good stash take it down.

4.     Adopt A Plant-Based Diet

We hear a lot of propaganda around the need for humans to eat meat a certain amount of times per week to get enough protein but, the truth is, humans are not biologically designed like carnivores. Humans who eat animal products don’t generally eat all parts of the animal and the remaining bits often get wasted. In fact, we can get all the nutrients we need from a balanced plant based diet and reduce our waste output significantly.

5.     Get Creative

If leftovers remain then we say get creative and concoct an original recipe to use them in. It’s amazing the tasty meals that can be created from seemingly unusable ingredients. For more ideas on how to use waste produce check out nibs.etc; founded by 23 year old Chloe Stewart this blog will cover all of your food waste recipe inspiration needs.