You have probably thrown away food more than once because it was out of date or you didn’t know what to do with the leftovers. Such “sins” happen to everyone, so it is worth learning more about the zero waste kitchen.
Wasting food is a global problem
Food waste is a global problem – the available data is horrifying, only in Europe about 88 million tons of food is thrown away annually, 47 million tons of which comes from households.
Throwing food away means wasting
- human labour.
Discarded food also has a negative impact on the environment. Decomposing food increasesCO2 emissions.
Why do so many people waste food?
Food waste results from several factors:
- from the pressure to have – marketing forces the desire to have new things;
- the pressure of advertising;
- pressure of promotion e.g. 3+1 free – many consumers buy because there is a promotion, but they don’t need the product.
Zero waste cuisine is ecology and economy
Zero waste cuisine dishes are:
- economical – I wrote about how much you can save by not wasting food in the article “How much you waste and how to stop wasting food”.
Contrary to what you may think, zero waste cooking isn’t about eating the same thing all week, it’s about eating a healthy and balanced diet. Instead of buying more food full of enhancers (e.g. because there’s a promotion), it makes sense to buy less, but good quality.
8 principles of shopping in a zero waste kitchen
1. Plan your menu for at least a week
Menu planning is fundamental in the zero waste kitchen. If planning a menu for a week ahead is too much of a challenge for you, then try to plan a menu for at least three days. This way you know what foods you will need.
2. Only shop with a list
Before you go out shopping, make a list of all the ingredients you’re missing that are necessary for the dishes you planned ahead.
3. Buy strategically
It’s a good idea to buy dry produce in larger quantities once in a while, and fresh produce in small quantities according to your current needs. Buying dry products less often has many advantages – you can easily prepare a meal or bake a cake with these ingredients.
4. Buy small amounts of fresh produce
Buy only as much fresh produce as you can eat. When buying dairy products, be sure to observe the ‘use by’ date. You can freeze leftover sausage and use it later, e.g. for bigos or casseroles. Freezing is a good way to extend the freshness of vegetables, which you can later use for e.g. soup or vegetable stew.
5. Buy seasonally
When buying vegetables and fruit, it’s worth choosing seasonal products, which are cheaper and healthier than imported ones. To make fresh produce look nice and keep it fresh for a long time, it is sprayed with various chemical preparations that have a negative impact on human health.
6. Buy raw materials, not ready-made
Preparing meals at home is cheaper and healthier than ready-made products. Many ready-made meals are packed in disposable packaging and contain sulfates that are harmful to health.
7. Use reusable packaging
Fabric bags, lunchboxes, jars and other packaging are a healthy eco-friendly way to store food. With reusable packaging, you reduce the amount of plastic produced that is harmful to the planet.
8. Share a meal
If you have food left over and you know you won’t eat it for various reasons, don’t hesitate to donate it to an eatery. In every bigger city there is a refrigerator where you can leave food useful for consumption.
Use up leftovers
In zero waste cuisine the principle is “and last not least” – that means that even from leftovers you can cook something tasty:
- you can make a cream soup from several types of legumes;
- if you have left over white cabbage, you can use it to make a cabbage soup;
- cabbage with mushrooms, ham, sausage, and broth can be used to make bigos
- individual vegetables can be boiled and used for pancakes;
- edible leaves can be used to make tasty pesto.