Did you know that the Western world wastes three times the amount of food needed to feed the hungriest people in the world? Every Dutch person throws away about 50 kilograms of food every year! Taking everything together, consumers, supermarkets and restaurants – about 4,4 million euros on food is thrown away yearly. Half is from the consumers, which is 150 euros a month. How can we make a difference and make sure less food is thrown away this year? Clever buying, clever cooking and clever saving are the answer! This will save you loads of money. A great way to start the New Year, don’t you think?
I know that when I cook, loads of beautiful products will be only used partly and the remaining parts will disappear in the fridge, after which either myself or my boyfriend will finally throw it away before it will walk away on its own… Thinking about this and all the products that are thrown away every day, not only by us but also by all the supermarkets or other stores and restaurants, made me think about ways in which we can use our products more efficiently and throw less food away!
It is a misconception that frozen vegetables are less healthy. As long as you freeze the vegetables at their freshest, they will retain most of their nutrients. Some vegetables that freeze well are peas, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, and green beans. Just grab the needed amount from the freezer when cooking your next dinner. With your frozen veggies you can cook almost anything, such as curries, soups or simple pasta sauces – the possibilities are endless! Not only vegetables can be put in the freezer. Have you thought about your leftover dinners, fruits, bread, stock, pizza dough and fresh herbs? When freezing herbs, just tear them apart, put them in an ice cube tray and then fill each compartment with olive oil. These are perfect for starting off your “clever cooking”, straight from the freezer!
The general rule with freezing your products is that dairy and leftover meals are safe in the freezer for up to three months. Of course, it depends on the efficiency of your freezer, how well you stored your food, and how fresh it was when frozen. Just remember that the quality will become less the longer it is left in the freezer. Remember the three month rule and you will avoid any problems down the line.
Another useful tip is to plan your meals for the week so you will not over-shop! After making the plan, check your fridge, maybe you have more products than you know of. Write everything down and stick to it while doing your grocery shopping. Another way of not throwing away to much food is to weight everything out. Did you know that you only need 100 grams of pasta per person?
Most people do not know that there is a difference between best-before dates, sell-by dates and use-by dates. The use-by dates are really the only numbers to which we need to pay attention! Reserved for highly perishable food like fish and meat, use-by dates tell us at what point food is dangerous to eat. All the others are simply the supermarket’s guess of when food will be past its best. This does not mean that they will make you ill or they will taste bad, this is just a marker of quality that the stores use to rotate their stock. An example is yoghurt, the dates on the package is in most cases completely off. Just smell and taste it, as long as you think it is edible it probably is edible!
Imagine yourself doing some grocery shopping. You see two carrots, a beautiful orange straight carrot and a crooked one with some blemishes on it. Which are you more likely to choose? When grocery shopping we look for the best-looking products. The “wonky-looking” vegetables are left behind and eventually thrown away by the supermarket. The thing here is, there is absolutely no difference in taste! When cooking a nice pumpkin soup or a stew, why would you buy a nice-looking carrot? If we would all change our mind-set about these wonky vegetables, the supermarket will throw away fewer vegetables!
Considering this topic, it is all about embracing your leftovers, and start your clever cooking. As long as you remember these things, you may end up saving loads of money and throwing away much less food then before. I ask you to buy those ugly vegetables and use them in your favourite soup. You will see that there will be no difference in taste at all!
In Jamie Oliver’s book, Save With Jamie, there are plenty more tips and tricks on how to shop smart, cook clever and waste less, you can buy the book here.
A great recipe, and a personal favourite, is his frittata with sweet potatoes and spinach. You can find the recipe here.
Do you have any useful tips to save more money and save more food? Please share them in the comments below!
Kristie de Jong
Is currently saving up money to buy a bigger freezer.
Loves freezing grapes and use them as ice cubes in her summer drinks.
Would like to buy all the wonky-looking vegetables in the supermarket.
Kristie de Jong