Want to eat healthier, help the environment, and save some money? Check out our tips on how you can prevent food waste at home!
It happens all the time; you forgot about that piece of fruit in the back of your fridge, or that onion hidden on a shelf. And what about those cans of soup in your pantry, those with an expiration date from last year? The fact is, we waste a lot of food. And this doesn’t even take into account the tons of food that supermarkets throw away because it didn’t sell. A shocking 40% of the food that is produced ends up as waste and won’t ever be used.
The amount of food that goes to waste is particularly shocking when you realise that lots of families, even in countries such as the US or the UK, struggle to put food on their tables. Millions can’t afford to buy food, so they visit a food bank each month. No question, food waste is a huge issue, and one of the big moral and social dilemmas of our time. What’s more, it is also causing significant environmental problems. Let us talk through what we can do individually to prevent food waste.
Before we offer some tips on how you can prevent wasting food at home, here is what Uzuma does against food waste.
There are two types of fresh juice that you can buy: centrifugal-extracted juice, and cold-pressed juice. If you’re going to the supermarket to get some juice, chances are it won’t be cold-pressed. It will likely be centrifugally extracted, just like most ordinary juices that you can find on the shelves.
Most commercial juicers and many home juice extractors use centrifugal juice extraction, which is the most common method of extraction. These juicers use a fast spinning blade against a mesh to break up fruits and vegetables. The juice is separated from the flesh using centrifugal force, hence the name.
There are some problems with this method; the spinning blades used for the centrifugal extraction create heat, which destroys a good portion of the nutrients in the juice. This means that centrifugal juice extraction is less effective and a lot more wasteful: much less of the nutritional value from the fruits and vegetables makes it into the bottle. Not good!
Compare this to cold press juice extraction, which is the method we use to make our Uzuma slow juices, and it becomes immediately evident which extraction method is more beneficial. Cold press juicing does not involve any heat, but works by gently crushing and pressing fruit or vegetables. Cold-pressing ensures maximum yield and leaves all the valuable nutrients intact! It maintains the maximum amount of goodness from the pulp and fibre and preserves more enzymes and vitamins. The result: healthier juices and less waste!
Most manufacturers of “supermarket juices” don’t cold press their juices because the technology is much more expensive. Moreover, commercial juices tend to contain ingredients like added sugar and preservatives, or have been pasteurised, which essentially destroys most of the nutritional value.
If you want to take full advantage of the healthy goodness in fresh fruits and vegetables, cold-pressed juices are the way to go. Not only will this aid in your detox or cleanse; you will also be minimising waste.
Store perishable foods in your fridge or freezer right away. But don’t just stuff them in your fridge. Make sure that cold air can circulate around your food. This keeps them fresh and safe during storage. If you put food items in the freezer, use resealable freezer bags.
Know that not all produce should go in the fridge. Onions, garlic, and even tomatoes will do better if you keep them at room temperature. The same goes for bananas, most citrus fruits, and potatoes. Store these types of fruits and veggies in a cool and dry spot in your kitchen instead. If you want to keep mushrooms fresh, put them into a brown paper bag.
Tip: Although many fruits and veggies do well when you store them in the fridge, you shouldn’t peel or wash them until you’re ready to use them.
Most of us peel the skin off fruits and vegetables before we eat them. Obviously, this makes sense for some fruits such as citrus, bananas, and other produce where the skin is inedible. But did you know that the skin of many fruits and veggies is the most nutrient-rich part of the plant?
Produce with the peel, such as fresh apples, potatoes, and many types of vegetables, contain much higher amounts of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients compared to its peeled counterparts. An apple, for example, contains more than 3x the amount of vitamin K and much more vitamin A, C, and minerals if you don’t peel it. The same goes for potatoes.
If you leave the skin on many types of fruits and veggies for cooking, you will also enjoy most of the valuable fibres and antioxidants contained in the food. Bottom line: leave the skin on and you can increase your nutrient intake with much less food waste!
There are many things you can do with your leftovers. For example, you can pack them for lunch the next day, or simply freeze them for later use.
Then again, not all leftovers taste great when you reheat them. Think about mashed potatoes and similar foods that are just better when freshly prepared. But you can repurpose them. Leftover mashed potatoes, for example, make a great soup thickener. You can also use them to make potato patties later on, etc. With a little creativity, you can find many good uses for many types of leftovers!
Just as it will make your foods more nutritious when you leave the skin on, there is really no reason to go crazy with cutting off stems and other parts of fruits and veggies because you think they won’t taste as good. But you might be surprised. For example, you can sauté broccoli stems as well as the florets—no reason to toss them out. And just as with the skins, it’s often true that these “undesirable” parts contain the most beneficial fibres and nutrients.
If you want to get really serious about preventing waste, how about turning your waste into new foods altogether? Did you know that you can regrow many foods quite easily? This way, you won’t just save on food waste, you will also save money! And even better, what could be healthier than foods you have regrown yourself? No worries, this is much easier than you may think.
Green onions are one such veggie that you can easily regrow. For this, you don’t need a degree in horticulture—just a glass of water and a sunny spot on your windowsill will do! Once you’ve prepared your green onion tops for cooking, put the remaining bunch, roots down, in a glass with about 3cm of water. Place the glass on your windowsill where it can get some sun. In no time, you will see new green shoots sprouting. All you need to do is change the water every few days and keep it at the same level. If you’re cooking and require green onion, just grab scissors and cut what you need from your freshly grown green onion!
Cut a sweet potato in half and place them cut-end down in a glass. Add some water so the potato pieces are covered. Place the glass in a sunny and warm spot and maintain the water level. Your potato will sprout after 2–3 weeks. Now, remove the sprouts, and put them in a shallow bowl of water where they will grow new roots. As soon as the roots are about 3cm long, you can place your potato plant into your garden. Keep your potato plants about 10cm apart. In the beginning, water daily. Later, the plants will need less water, about once per week. You can harvest your own potatoes in about four months when the leaves start to turn yellow.
Garlic is incredibly easy to regrow. Simply take cloves and place them pointy-side up in the ground. Space your garlic plants about 10–15cm apart. It’s best when you plant them outside in fall before the first frost. They will sprout in spring, and you will enjoy fresh garlic in the coming months!
You can also regrow celery easily. Take a bunch and remove about 5cm from the base and put the piece into a shallow bowl with some water. Use a sprayer and keep the top of the celery piece moist. Replace the water every few days. As soon as you see roots, you can transplant the celery into your garden.
Most seeds from fresh veggies and fruits you can grow into your own plants. Remove the seeds from fresh ripe tomatoes or peppers and allow them to dry for a week. When the seeds are dry, sow them into pots or directly into garden beds; cover lightly with some soil. Water frequently. After a few months, you will have your own tomato or pepper plants!
No reason to waste food! With the tips from our guide, you won’t just do your part in preventing food waste; you will also be eating healthier and can save some money in the process.