Minimise your food waste to maximise your food satisfaction
Charlie Nadin shares his top tips and tricks to help you reduce food waste and try some new recipes.
Halt the waste disposal trucks! Hold all the souring milk, browning bananas, and vegetable peelings! There is a better way. I am, to be frank, psychotic when it comes to food waste – no edible food product that enters this house shall leave unconsumed. Here are a couple of tips and tricks for reducing how much you chuck in food waste action week and beyond.
Soured dairy products is a big one. People buy huge tubs of yogurt, cream, and pints of milk only for it to sit around too long and go “bad”. But one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, and as someone who bakes, I am only too happy to use up soured dairy. It works functionally the same, if not better, in breads and cakes. Nigella has a great recipe that uses soured milk to make a sandwich loaf, and I like soured products in cakes and scones as they seem to rise better. There is probably a science behind that, though that’s not my interest. And yes, I’m quite sure it is safe to eat, any harmful bacteria should be killed in the cooking process – plus, I’m still kicking. That’s all the scientific data I need.
Nigella (my mother in arms) was also controversially the champion of the banana peel back in 2020. And quite rightly too. Soaked in hot water for long enough, chopped up banana skins become beautifully soft morsels that can be put into curries or blended into cakes. In Nigella’s banana skin curry, she soaked the banana peels with turmeric and salt for flavour, and a little baking soda to further soften. You could of course sub out whatever spice or flavouring you desire. Earlier this year I made a banoffee inspired sheet cake using blended banana peel in the batter, and it was delicious. Recipe credit goes to Lindsay-Jean Hard in her book Cooking With Scraps, a great shoutout for this week in particular. The original recipe calls for spelt flour, but I used plain and it turned out marvellously so don’t let that discourage you. Next time you have a browning banana sat in your kitchen, give these ideas a try! There is more to baking than banana bread after all.
Banana peel is not the only peel on my radar though. Nothing frustrates me more than vegetables peelings being chucked without a thought. I like to bag them all up and freeze them, and once I have accumulated a large amount, I defrost them and then simmer them for a good 45 minutes with herbs and spices to make a simple stock. If that doesn’t speak to you, I implore that you, at the least, save potato skins. They are so rich in fibre and baked in a hot oven tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper make a wonderful crispy snack.
As I have already alluded, the freezer is your best friend when it comes to reducing food waste. So long as it’s freezer safe, it is often worth going through your food and seeing what is approaching its use by or is potentially on the turn. Freezing bread works tremendously, and, though niche, I would like to highlight that egg whites are freezer safe. I say this because on the occasions that people do separate eggs for making custard or some such thing, they often don’t then know what to do with the egg white and throw it away. I like to freeze egg whites and then defrost them to make meringues, but if that sounds like too much faff, then they are amazing for making easy clusters in granola. This is a tip I found from RecipeTin Eats: you make your granola mix as you normally would, but then mix through an egg white or two and arrange the granola in a sort of ring on the tray. Bake till golden, allow to cool and then break into beautiful crunchy clusters.
This is just the tip of the ice burg in terms of reducing waste. These are just fun ideas that I find help me reduce the amount of food waste I produce, and I hope that perhaps I’ve got you a little inspired.