Waste Free Cooking

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.

Homemade soft cheese and whey

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: 

  1. Pasta
  2. Hard cheese
  3. Spinach/Kale (yes really)
  4. Fresh Milk/Cream (for cheese & yogurt)

UPDATE (September 2016):

  1. Pasta; we now buy this from Bin Inn Onehunga, this is the only place in Auckland where I have found loose pasta.
  2. 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. 
  3. Spinach & kale;  this comes in our Ooooby box and we grow it in our garden also. 
  4. 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.


  1. Madeleine BS   •  

    I'm really enjoying your blog and your journey. Well done!! The waste free life is SO rewarding!!! For waste free green I grow my own. If you don't have a room for a garden they grow well in large containers that you can fit pretty much anywhere. They'll grow in the sun or part shade. For waste free milk I'd ask your local raw milk supplier (Bin inn might be able to help you with this) a lot of them sell the milk in 5l or bigger plastic pails that are swapped and reused. I've make my own pasta to go waste free but it does require a lot of time and effort. Must have another go. Otherwise the ceres organics pasta range comes in plastic boxes and are super yummy. Hard cheese I buy in 20kg block from Chantals organics with my Co op and we cut it up and store it in glass containers I do this for butter as well. Joining a co op is an awesome way to reduce your waste as well. I look forward to hearing more. All the best love NZ Ecochick x

  2. Amanda Chapman   •  

    Thanks for the comment & advice Madeleine. I now grow spinach, silverbeet & kale in my garden. I have found some pasta that comes in boxes, but it's either cannelloni or lasagna. I also know where I can purchase hard cheese, but it's at a swanky place in Ponsonby. I am going to try Farro Fresh. I did ask at Countdown a few times, and have had varying degrees of help. Joining a co-op sounds really interesting, I may have to look in to it!

  3. Pingback: Make Food Not Waste (How To Use Up Leftovers) - Amanda in Waste-Free Land

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