5 Sustainable Kitchen Hacks for Green Living
Do you feel a pang of guilt when you discover your forgotten leftovers in the fridge? You’re not alone. Aussies throw out a jaw dropping $8-10 billion worth of food every year, which ends up in landfill eventually. We know we can organise our food consumption in a smarter, greener way. It just takes a little pre-planning and habit-changing to set our course in the right direction.
Here’s 5 simple and sustainable kitchen hacks that can reduce your environmental footprint and create a greener lifestyle for your household.
1. Smart Storage
Storing your food correctly is the key to keeping it fresher for longer. Here are our top tips to make sure you minimise food wastage:
– Take fruit and veggies out of their bags so they don’t ‘sweat’ and spoil quickly
– Please them in airtight containers
– Check use-by dates and adopt a “first in, first out” method – so you move older products to the front and make sure they’re consumed first. Out of sight = out of mind in the fridge!
– Make use of your freezer and store foods that would otherwise expire
– Optimise your fridge to make sure the temperature is at maximum efficiency
– Keep your fridge at 3–4°C and -15–18°C for the freezer at all times
– Avoid overcrowding your fridge, as the air won’t circulate efficiently to keep cool
2. Meal Mapping
A lot of our food wastage is a result of buying things you don’t need, and from lack of pre-planning. Map out a weekly meal plan with a list of ingredients and make sure you stick to it. Tempting offers and impulse buys at the supermarket often end with expired food and an overstuffed fridge!
Here are our top tips for list making and meal planning:
– Before ducking out to the grocers every time you’re cooking, it’s a good idea to shop from your fridge and pantry first. Then, you can plan your next meals around what items need to be eaten the soonest.
– Be honest with yourself; unless you’re 100% sure you are going to consume all the produce you buy before it goes off, don’t buy them.
– Never shop on an empty stomach (you will be surprised how much time and money you will save!)
– Try a “one batch cook” every week. Sunday afternoons are a great time to set up for the week ahead. Plan and freeze extra meal portions if needed, so if life gets busy during the week you have an extra meal you can enjoy without the fuss.
3. Sustainable Servings
So, you’ve mastered the meal prep plan, and you’ve grabbed all the ingredients for your lunch and dinner. Where do we go from here? Here are our top tips for keeping each meal as sustainable as possible.
– Try a weekly leftovers night: Re-use the leftovers in the fridge to create a new meal. For example, whip up a smoothie with leftover fruit, use leftover veggies in a soup or veggie bake for lunch the next day. Vegetable trimmings and bones can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for a homemade stock.
– Don’t over-serve: Your eyes are bigger than your stomach when you’re hungry, which often leads to food wastage when you simply can’t eat another bite. A good trick to avoid over-serving is to use smaller plates and serve a small portion onto the plate. Wait 15 minutes to see if you’re still hungry before going for seconds.
– Re-purpose food waste: Try using as much of your produce as possible when you’re cooking. For example, the skin on fruit and vegetables is full of nutrients and fibre, so you could blend it into a smoothie to hide the texture. You can use broccoli stalks to pad up your stir-fry, and stale bread is great to turn into breadcrumbs for a schnitzel.
4. Go Green
When it comes to choosing fresh produce, there’s a few sustainable decisions you can make early on. The supermarket is definitely not the only place you can shop from! Here are our top tips for an alternative, greener option:
– Grow your own vegetables and herbs. There’s nothing better than picking from your herb garden to add in your home cooked meal. What’s better, growing fruit and vegetables is a great way of reducing harmful gases produced by processing and transporting food. It even tastes better too!
– Eat local and seasonal produce. Where possible, support your local community and eat seasonal produce. It’s not only good for the environment. It’s actually better for flavour because the produce is picked closer to the time it will be eaten (rather than harvested early). This tends to be a cheaper option too, since the produce is at the peak of its supply, and the storage, transport and refrigeration expenses are smaller.
– Compost your food scraps. Keep a small bin in the kitchen that’s dedicated to food scraps. Vegetable peel, fruit, tea bags, ground coffee and eggshells are all items that can be composted. It may seem a little tedious, but because half of your household garbage is made up of food and garden waste, you can really help to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas produced by landfill when you compost your scraps.
5. Clean Consciously
A green kitchen is not complete without greener cleaners. After all, the kitchen is the place you prep all the meals that you eat. It’s important that you don’t clean up your messes with products that expose your family to harmful and toxic cleaning chemicals.
Fortunately, there are many natural, plant-based cleaning products that don’t contain any nasty chemicals and still get the cleaning job done well. Orange Power and Organic Choice produce naturally derived cleaning products that rely on plant power – not harsh chemicals – to clean your kitchen effectively and leave a beautiful botanical smell in its place.
Find both ranges at Coles, Woolworths, and selected independent stores.