Reduce Food Waste | Waste-Free Cooking Ideas

Say hello to waste-free cooking, to reduce your food waste.

You get a “Meat-free Monday” to encourage people to eat a vegetarian meal at least once a week, so to help you get started on lower waste in the household, why not try a no-waste Wednesday?

The idea is simple you try a waste-free Wednesday meal, which involves using up what it’s in the fridge, or keeping off-cuts to use in another dish, just don’t throw it. 

The great thing about No-Waste Wednesday is that it is once a week, and if it works for you, you can change this weekly goal into a lifestyle.

No-Waste Wednesday’s benefits are twofold – you can save money, put some cash back in your pocket, and you will be helping the planet at the same time!

Of course, low waste is not just for Wednesdays, we encourage you to make it a lifestyle habit. If you do weekly shopping on a Thursday, then Wednesday is just the day to see what you can make with things that are potentially ‘going to waste’. If you do shopping on a Sunday, then use up what is potentially going to be wasted before getting what you need, or alter your shopping list to incorporate these items in your week’s meal plans.

Reuse food waste to make compost! Eggshells, coffee grounds, veggie peels – these are all things we are throwing away; why not cut costs and waste by making compost.

Waste-Free Cooking Tips

Clever Cooking

Everything does not have to go into ONE dish. Some parts of the ingredients could be used for future meals, put in the compost pile, or re-purposed in another way. For example, some people don’t end up eating their leftovers, so make them into something else (where possible). Slice up leftover braai steak and add it to pasta. Turn chicken pieces or leftover roast chicken into a curry with rice. Add leftover roast vegetables into a salad for a new meal.

Grow it don’t throw it!

There are many ways to start a veggie garden using the veggie scraps or older veg that you buy. These are just some easy ideas to try:

  • Rather than throwing away the ends of those spring onions or leeks, pop them in water and watch them grow!
  • Try out pepper seeds and plant them.
  • Potatoes growing some roots? Pop them in water or on the ground and let them grow! The same goes for onions.
  • Use filter coffee grinds and eggshells as a fertilizer.

Potato & Butternut Skins

Don’t peel your potatoes. The potato skins have good nutrients in them, in fact, more than the interior of the potato. They contain loads of fibre, vitamin B-6, and vitamin C.
But if you do peel the potatoes, dry the skins and roast or air fry them for some crispy potato skin chips.

Butternut & Pumpkin Seeds

Say no to binning those butternut seeds. Wash, dry, season, and roast them for a nutritious salad or soup topper.

Veg Tops – Carrot, radish, and beetroot leaves/tops:

Pesto, pesto, pesto! Carrot top pesto is a thing. Beetroot leaves, carrot tops, and radish leaves, all make a superb base for a delicious, adaptable pesto, and if you’ve got a few herbs lingering in the fridge or garden, add them! We made a green leafy pesto using carrot and radish tops, paired with veg crudités using those vegetable offcuts that usually land up in the bin!

Try this veg top pesto recipe.

Veg Top Pesto with veg off-cut Crudites Platter

Vegetable Offcuts

Sofrito (or Soffritto) a.k.a mirepoix. What is Soffritto? This is the base for many recipes, a blend of onions, carrots, and celery. A great way to use up these veggies offcuts. Prepare and freeze the mix into cubes, so that the veggies don’t end up going to waste. Try this frozen Sofrito cubes recipe. Add 5 more ingredients and enjoy this weeknight Sofrito Chicken recipe.

Minestrone! A good minestrone soup will use a cube of that frozen soffrito mentioned above, with stock and whatever veg you have left (within reason of course).

Save The Steams, Sauté The Stems

The stems of spinach and Swiss chard are actually edible. Chop them up and them to vegetable stock, or blend them in the Sofrito or sauté them.

The broccoli and cauliflower stems can be air-fried or roasted to make for a crispy snack or addition to a salad. Blend them up into a dip. Add them to a curry, stew, or even a quiche! Or make the lekker cauliflower and broccoli fritters mentioned below.

Cauliflower or Broccoli Stems and leaves:

  • Blend them up into a pasta sauce or a hummus dip.
  • Make these cauliflower and broccoli fritters.

Leftovers Breakfast Casserole:

End up with stale bread, veggies offcuts, or some leftover meat? Well, grab some eggs and use those up in a delicious waste-free breakfast casserole!

Do you have some super-nifty waste-free hacks or habits to share with our fellow Food and Earth Lovers? Share them social channels and tag @foodloversmarket so we can share them too! 

*Note, please do not use any ingredients that contain mold, or are too old which will cause health issues. Food Lover’s Market will not be made liable. Never eat discoloured meat or produce, and meat/produce that has a bad odour.