We always say that sustainability is a practice without off days. That means we try to reduce our waste in every aspect of our lives to the best of our ability. Given that we produce 17,000 tons of food waste a day in Malaysia, it’s extremely important that we learn how to reduce kitchen waste. Even though we usually discuss food waste in the context of eating/discarding, cooking is where this habit should be nurtured.
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What Is Zero-Waste Cooking?
Zero-waste cooking means leaving no waste behind in the process of food preparation. You guessed it: this includes the ingredients and packaging prior to beginning the cooking process. Zero-waste cooking encourages the use of every part of the ingredients you choose including fruits, vegetables and meat.
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How To Practice Zero-Waste Cooking?
Reuse Your Ingredients
If you want to reduce your kitchen waste, you have to consider using some of the same ingredients two or three times. Some ingredients can fulfil their purpose more than once; such as cooking oil, herbs, spices and vegetable or fruit peels. An example of how this works is, if you were using some cooking oil to fry potatoes, you can always reuse the same oil to fry chicken or other similar ingredients.
Use Every Part of Your Ingredients
When it comes to practising zero-waste cooking, you have to get your creative juices flowing. While traditional cooking methods have normalized wasting certain parts of your produce, if you want to do zero-waste cooking justice, use every part of your ingredients i.e. vegetables. Though we typically throw out vegetable stems, for instance, they can actually be used in soups or purees and could elevate the end result exponentially.
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Peels Make Great Chips
Upon reading the previous point, you may have had a small voice in you going “but surely I can’t find a use for fruit and vegetable peels?”, but you’d be surprised! You can use potato peels to make healthy crisps and can use the peels of carrots, apples and pears to make semi-sweet and crunchy snacks!
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None of us is exempt from over-purchasing every now and then, whether it’s due to a lack of planning or other reasons. If you happen to over-purchase fruits like strawberries, apples or blueberries (to name a few), consider turning them into some yummy spreads! If you don’t repurpose your fruits quickly, they’ll only end up going bad and will inevitably be wasted.
To avoid having to find alternative uses for your food as stated in point 4, consider planning your meals and grocery shopping in advance. Meal planning not only takes off the added pressure of having to figure out what to eat every day, but it also saves you time from having to repurpose your food to avoid waste. On top of that, shopping can become far less daunting and stressful when you know exactly what you’re going into the store for.
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Though it may not seem like it, garbage is largely optional. Creating waste, despite being so deeply woven into our everyday lives, is something that is habitual, and can be unlearned. We hope these tips help you with zero-waste cooking so you can introduce sustainability to more aspects of your life!