Thursday, 14 July 2016

Weekly Column: Waste Not, Want Not

Waste Not, Want Not: Reducing Your Kitchen Waste

Everyone knows the cost of food is continually rising, to the point that nutritious food is unaffordable for many families. Given the cost, it is very disappointing to find that your dairy and produce have spoiled before you have a chance to eat it. Luckily, there are many ways to ensure the food you have worked hard to purchase gets eaten rather than wasted.

                Use a menu-plan

A menu-plan can be as simple as jotting down the meals you expect to have on certain days each week—it needn’t take long to write and does not have to be strictly adhered to. The idea is that you plan your meals according to what you have on hand and foresee busy days where you might be short on time. A menu-plan allows you to prepare some food ahead because you have tomorrow’s meals anticipated, and also reminds you to use up what you have available. Take stock of what needs used and plan your meals accordingly to get the most out of your kitchen budget.

                Freeze it before it spoils

Did you know that you can freeze milk and thaw it (slowly) when needed? A 4 litre jug is usually the most economically priced, but if it is too much for your family consider freezing the excess in freezer-safe containers to save money. The same goes for meat trimmings, bones and vegetable scraps. Freeze gravy drippings and roast remnants for a quick meal of soup, and keep a bag in your freezer for onion, carrot and potato peels, celery ends and other vegetables that can boiled into broth then discarded. It may take some organization on your part, but you will appreciate having a meal or two per week that is essentially free. If you are travelling, freeze what you have to avoid coming home to a rank fridge and wasted food. 

                Uses for sour milk

If you find that your milk has begun to sour, you might consider using it in buns, bread or cake rather than tossing it out. Lightly soured milk creates a leavening effect and results in fluffier baking—the heat of the oven takes care of any bacteria that might exist. Please note, however, that milk that has soured in the fridge is safe to use but it is not recommended to use milk that has been left in the sun or that has spoiled to the point of chunkiness. If you find yourself with whipping cream that needs used up, you might consider making your own butter. All that you need is a mixer and some time—a simple google search will find you numerous recipes. A litre of whipping cream should give you almost a pound of butter with the added bonus of a cup or two of buttermilk that can be substituted for milk in almost any recipe. How is that for making great use of something that might otherwise have been thrown out? Get the kids involved and talk about reducing waste in your home.

                Start to compost

Sending yard and food scraps to the landfill creates methane and wastes what could be turned into valuable compost. 

While some cities can accept household waste that you cannot compost yourself (meat and dairy, pet waste and cat litter should NOT be deposited in your backyard composter because your compost will not reach a sufficient heat to kill all pathogens), you might still consider building or buying a composter in which to create your own nutrient rich compost from yard and vegetable scraps. Ask around and see if friends or neighbours have composting worms. Vermicomposting is becoming more common in schools and is a great way to get the kids excited about science, composting and gardening.

Reducing what gets wasted and discarded is a huge part of reducing one’s budget. If you are struggling to keep healthy food on the table, it has never been more important to get every penny out of your purchased or homegrown food. By planning and making an effort, you can divert your groceries from going from the store to the fridge to the landfill. You might find that you spend less and eat better. 


  1. I would also suggest for someone who lives close to a grocery store (in town not rural ) simply buying less sometimes and making do. I have been ill of late (not a full blown sickness but something is off) so I've made the decision to not grocery shop much. I've had to toss somethings because I couldn't stomach them but by reducing the shopping I've limited the waste. Guess my point is to not just go on auto-pilot. We all have really busy weeks away from home, or weeks when we are ill. Reduce the shopping in those weeks. If you can, make an extra trip vs tossing out food.
    ~ Pru

    1. Great suggestion, Pru :) I know I've had weeks where I couldn't get to town and I realize that we still managed to eat well and actually saved a lot in all those extra little things you pick up just because you're there. Thanks!