Australians have forgotten how to be thrifty when it comes to food. According to recent research, the average Australian family wastes over $1000 very year throwing out edible food. That’s 20% of the food we buy or 1 in every 5 grocery bags that end up in our household bin. Across Australia, that’s $8 billion of food added to landfill every year.
One possible hypothesis for the rise in food waste is that the art of using left overs and ‘a bit of this and that’ has been lost. Our parents or grandparents did not always have the abundance of food available to Australians today, and they needed to be smart and creative with the food they had to keep the family fed.
If being food scrap savvy does not come naturally to you, try this tasty vegetable slice. Because it includes a variety of vegetables and they have been grated or finely sliced to fit in as much as possible, it means this dish is packed full of different vitamins and minerals. But you (or the kids) wouldn’t know it. It’s so easy to make and tastes delicious!
20ml olive oil
1 medium leek, thinly sliced
6 medium eggs
¼ cups low-fat milk
1 cup thinly sliced zucchini
½ cup diced tomato
1 cup baby spinach
½ cup grated carrot
Pepper to taste
100g reduced fat cheese, grated
1. Preheat oven to 180°C.
2. Over medium heat, add oil to a medium-sized frying pan. Add leek and cook until tender.
3. In a medium bowl, add eggs and milk and whisk until combined.
4. Into egg mixture, add zucchini, tomato, sautéed leek, baby spinach, carrot, pepper and half of the cheese. Whisk until well combined.
5. Line a medium-sized oven-proof dish with grease proof paper.
6. Transfer egg mixture into dish. Top with the remaining cheese.
7. Cook for 30-40 minutes until cooked through and golden brown.
8. Serve immediately.
To this recipe you can add any vegetables, lean meats, herbs and spices.. Also try using the last of your vegetables in risottos, salads, soups, casseroles, curries, savoury muffins or a stir-fry. Fruit can be included in muffins or cakes, parfaits, fruit salad and crumbles, or even in curries and tagines or on top of pizzas.
Other ways to reduce food waste include:
- Use your leftovers. They are great for lunch the next day and often taste even better than the night before!
- Monitor the amount you cook. Are you regularly cooking too much food for what you and your family can eat?
- Check Best Before and Use-By dates carefully. Research says that often we misread these dates and throw food out before we need to. Do you know what the dates mean? The Best Before date is the date provided by the manufacturers as the date in which you can expect the unopened product to retain its quality. It is safe to eat food after this date has passed although the quality such as taste, texture and colour may be reduced. The Used-By date is the last date that the food can be eaten safely. After this date it is recommended that you do not eat the food.
- Check the cupboard and fridge before going shopping so you don’t buy food you already have and don’t need more of.
- Use the food you have at home instead of buying take away at the last minute
- Make a shopping list before you go shopping and stick to it!
- Avoid food shopping when you’re hungry. You are likely to buy more than you need.
- Avoid buying specials where you buy 3 items but only eat two. It’s false economy.
Making use of what food you have in your fridge can be extremely cost efficient over time, environmentally friendly and encourages creativity and variety in the kitchen. So get food scrap savvy! For more information, visit Australian Food Waste Stats and the Zero Waste Factsheet Know Food.