Saturday, January 28, 2023

Food Waste Is the WORST: Actual Tips on How to Minimise It in Your House

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Capsule x HelloFresh

If your soul hurts just a little bit when you have to throw out that sad cucumber that’s now just mush, or worst case scenario, the chicken breast you forgot was in the back of the fridge (in THIS climate?!) then we feel you – food waste is the absolute worst. So we had a chat to Hannah Gilbert, Director Culinary Innovation & Operations at HelloFresh, for her tips on minimising what you chuck out from your fridge.

Capsule: ​No one – literally NO ONE – likes to waste food; the feeling you get when you’ve forgotten those carrots and that bag of spinach at the back of the fridge absolutely sucks, and it’s so bad for the planet. What’s the biggest culprit?

Hannah: I couldn’t agree more, food waste is a big issue. Not only is it damaging the environment but also our bank accounts! There are so many culprits, but items that go off quickly are high up on the list. The likes of bread, milk, fruit and veggies are commonly thrown away as people don’t get around to consuming them before their shelf-life is up. I think most people will resonate with what you’ve mentioned about vegetables making their way to the back of the fridge to never be seen again.

The big question is then how do we eliminate it – what are your top three solutions?

There are a number of simple and easy solutions to help reduce food waste, a few include:

Storing food correctly: Knowing how to store your food can make a huge difference to its shelf life. One thing people often don’t know is that the back of the fridge tends to stay at a cool, even temperature, so it’s a much better place to store dairy products and eggs to help it last longer rather than the side door where the temperature is subject to change as you open and close the fridge.

Make the most out of your leftovers: Using leftovers is a great way to save time, money and the planet, and it doesn’t have to mean eating the same meal for an entire week. It’s important to take time to plan ahead and only cook what you will realistically eat, but also think how you can repurpose the leftovers into new meals. Adding leftover meat, vegetables or seafood to fajitas, fried rice, pasta sauce, soup or a casserole can make for a delicious leftover-based dish. Switching to using meal kits is another great way to minimise the leftover trap. By using HelloFresh you can generate 72% fewer food scraps and leftovers compared to cooking a conventional dinner from the supermarket.

Grow your own produce: Buying seasonal produce is a great budgeting tool, so why not go that one step further by flexing your green thumb. My top tip for beginners is to start small – a herb garden on a windowsill is a great introduction into growing your own produce and perfect for smaller spaces. Then for those with more space and comfort levels, try venturing something larger.

We often think about composting/using all of an ingredient, but where does meal planning and actually only buying what you need come in?

It’s important to plan your meals before you even step into the supermarket. Take a really good look at what you already have, make a list of items that you need to buy and stick to it to reduce the chance of impulse buying. Planning your meals and ingredients in advance is a sure-fire way to purchase only the things you need. If meal planning isn’t your strong point, or you are easily tempted by the specials, a meal kit delivery service like HelloFresh can help by doing all the meal planning, and grocery shopping for you , while also providing the exact amount of ingredients needed to avoid food waste.

What is some of the best food we can buy that will help minimise food waste?

When trying to minimise food waste, it’s all about making the most of what you do buy and making sure you are buying produce that is in season. This is where meal planning and creating a shopping list helps as you can plan different meals that include similar ingredients to make sure you’re making the most of what you’ve got in the fridge or pantry.

Should we be utilising our freezers more?

Freezers are a fantastic way to reduce food waste as they help preserve unused produce as well as upcycling cooked food for new uses. For example, if you don’t think you’ll eat your fruit and veggies before they rot, you can save the scraps and trimmings in a bag in the freezer. Veggies are great for creating a flavourful stock for soups or sauces and fruit is ideal for a delicious smoothie. Most people are surprised just how much you can keep in the freezer!

Hannah Gilbert

Any other tips/tricks in the lead-up to the silly season?

It can be hard to stay on track with meal planning and prepping during the silly season as we often get swept up with celebrations, of which there can be many. One tip is try to keep your social calendar – whether that’s a physical one or online – as up to date as possible, so you know when you are dining out versus staying in, and plan your meals accordingly. During these busier months, it’s also handy to think about cooking meals that are reheat friendly, so if you do decide on a spontaneous dinner out  a lasagne, simple pasta or cottage pie you have prepped will be just as delicious the next day for lunch.

Or, you can make it nice and easy on yourself by trying a meal kit delivery service such as HelloFresh. With the ability to customise the number of meals you receive each week, you can plan your dinners around your busy social life!

Ok, so what is HelloFresh doing as a business to minimise food waste?

Our business model is inherently geared towards lower levels of food waste, aiming to reduce, donate and divert where possible. 

There are a number of tools we use to help decrease food waste, including our web-based ordering and advanced analytics that allows us to source almost exact quantities of ingredients based on known consumer selections, leaving us with significantly less food waste from production. For any surplus food that is generated during production, or in our test kitchen where we test each recipe before they feature on our menu, we ensure the majority of it — fresh and non-perishable food — is made available to those facing food insecurity through food donation programs and or charity organisations like KiwiHarvest. For inedible food waste, we utilise local organics recycling options such as composting, anaerobic digestion, land application or animal feed, thus diverting the food waste from landfill or incineration and significantly reducing the generation of GHGs in the process.

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