5 ways to maximise groceries and minimise waste

 Spending more time in the kitchen means learning the importance of not only keeping food fresh for weeks at a time, but also minimising waste for fewer trips to the grocery store. Whether aiming to reduce waste, saving money or just finding new ways get creative in the kitchen, these five tips will help you make the most out of your ingredients while saving all kinds of dough.

1. Take inventory and get organised

Mostly people attribute tossed food to forgetting they are in the refrigerator or losing them amongst the clutter. Further, many agree waste is due to lack of organisation or space in the fridge, with one in four admitting their refrigerator is unorganised. When it comes to refrigerator and pantry organisation, being able to see your items is half the battle.

The first step when organising your pantry is to remove items, wipe surfaces clean and take inventory. Then, use clear, stackable containers to repack loose items or tough-to-store packages, such as oatmeal, condiment packets, nuts or grains.

When it comes to the refrigerator, use the first in, first out method as well as organisational features like split or adjustable shelving to your advantage.

2. Shop for a variety

To avoid overstocking, start by making a list. In addition to fresh fruit, vegetables and other necessities, add versatile non-perishables, proteins and starches. Fermented and pickled foods like kimchi, sauerkraut and tempeh boost your immune system, while also lasting months and adding a flavourful punch to dishes. Beans, seeds, alternative milks and oats, plus a range of spices can also help add variety to your meals.

3. Use the “stem to peel” method

One way to maximise produce is to repurpose commonly discarded parts. Peels can be left on almost all organic veggies for added flavour, texture and a boost of fibre. Citrus peels can be used in anything from baked goods to cocktails for added acidity and spice. Stems and veggie ends can be boiled down into a stock for use in other recipes, while leaves from fresh radishes, beets and carrots can be sautéed for a healthy side dish or to freshen up a pasta dish.

4. Be creative with what you have

Now is the perfect time to experiment with new recipes, but maximising ingredients means starting with what you have. Prioritise items that are going to spoil soon and build a recipe from there.
Instead of running to the store for an ingredient, search your inventory for replacements. For example, if you are baking and run out of butter, replace it with coconut oil or apple sauce. You can substitute unsweetened yoghurt for mayo, sour cream or crème fraiche. As well, lemon juice, lime juice, vinegar and white wine are interchangeable in recipes.

5. Get friendly with your freezer

People agree they toss out food because it will spoil before they have a chance to eat it. Freezing foods is a great way to preserve ingredients at peak freshness and get more value when buying in bulk. When freezing meat, which will last three to four months in the freezer, wrap singular portions in plastic before placing in a resealable bag. Meat will thaw faster, and you will avoid cooking more than you need.

Blanching vegetables before freezing helps maintain colour and flavour. Frozen veggies, berries and cooked grains keep for two to three months in the freezer, while soup and bread will last three to six months. Just be sure to label all items with the date and prioritise the first in, first out rule.

From the pantry to the refrigerator and freezer, these tips will help you maximise all your ingredients for less food wasted while also getting more creative and organised in the kitchen than ever. – BPT