Prior to Plastic Free July I was worried about cooking & grocery shopping as I knew that this was probably my major source of plastic & rubbish. However since going to Bin Inn and finding some great blogs and recipes I have found I am getting more resourceful in the kitchen and majority of my meals produce no rubbish and only minimal food scraps.
Preventing food waste:
I collect all of my food scraps and freeze them until I have enough to make veggie stock/broth. This is a habit I used to do years ago, but due to sheer laziness and lack of freezer space (we now have a new freezer & a spare for the flat) I stopped making my own stock and relied on the convenience of stock cubes. Making my own stock is super easy, it’s bloody cheap (basically free) and whatever I don’t use I can freeze- however with it being winter I always use it up. I compost the used veges after.
I recently made an apple scrap vinegar out of apple peels & cores and the apples used to flavour my Kombucha. I fermented my vinegar in a 1L ceramic stein which was an op shop find for my BF a few years back and left in in the hot water cupboard. I put a few tablespoons of Kombucha in the vinegar and found I had a mini SCOBY by the end of it! The recipe can be found here at Zero Waste Chef.
|My fermented apple scrap vinegar|
My Kombucha is coming along nicely, I am now brewing a 10L continuous brew as the demand is high between myself and friends and family for my kombucha. With it being winter it is taking a bit longer than I would like. I am flavouring it mainly with mandarins and grapefruit as we have trees and can’t eat them all- especially the little fiddly ones. I also use fruit I froze when they were in season.
My other recent ferments are Sauerkraut and fermented chillies- both of which turned out great! I have also been making yogurt and finding new ways to use it (scones, in a spinach pie, on pizza) and soft cheeses. My kitchen has become very experimental and I am thoroughly enjoying it and finding new ways to use things that would otherwise go to waste.
|Cabbage, beetroot and carrot fermented in a jar|
What I have been cooking:
As it is winter I have been cooking A LOT of soups- which is the best way to use up any random ingredients and vegetables that have seen better days. Below are some of our dinners from the past month.
|Pumpkin Soup with spiced yogurt dip|
|Spaghetti with weed pesto & homemade cheese|
|Veggie soup with croutons and yogurt, and the rubbish produced.|
|Sauerkraut with bread and falafel purchased from the market, and homemade hummus and ricotta.|
Can you tell we like our bread?! Other meals that were devoured before photos included numerous curries with naan and pizzas.
Usually we eat a lot of pasta but I am struggling to find this plastic free, and am also avoiding tin tomatoes as the tins are plastic lined! This one is more of a challenge for me as tin tomatoes were a staple, and with it being the middle of winter tomatoes aren’t the cheapest. My pantry has definitely changed in the past month, I used to a shelf FULL of tinned legumes and tomatoes, but now I by them dried in bulk and store in old coffee jars that the BF gets from work.
I think being vegetarian definitely helps to cut down our waste & plastic. My BF is not vegetarian, but as I am the cook he eats vegetarian. He will eat meat when we go out, he very rarely buys meat to cook.
Foods I have yet to find plastic free:
- Hard cheese
- Spinach/Kale (yes really)
- Fresh Milk/Cream (for cheese & yogurt)
UPDATE (September 2016):
- Pasta; we now buy this from Bin Inn Onehunga, this is the only place in Auckland where I have found loose pasta.
- Hard cheese; I wrote a whole blog post about this here. We don’t buy this often, usually from Bin Inn Takanini who happily put it straight in our container.
- Spinach & kale; this comes in our Ooooby box and we grow it in our garden also.
- Fresh milk; this can be purchased in your own vessel from a local farm, although we stopped buying milk after making the switch. We sometimes purchase milk powder from Bin Inn.