The green tops of strawberries are edible so it is waste to just chuck them into your bin or compost. They are great for adding an extra dose of greens to your smoothie – either chuck in the strawberries whole, or if you are not making a smoothie immediately, freeze the tops to use later.
You can also use the strawberry tops to infuse water or as a flavouring for vinegar or kombucha.
When making a family meal put an extra plate out and dish up. You can always squeeze out an extra lunch or dinner from a family meal. Cover and freeze. After a week or so you will have a selection to call on for that hungry teenager or a no cook day!
Keep all vegetable peelings, pumpkins skins, cabbage cores etc. Chop all of them finely and then dehydrate till crisp. Whizz to a powder then just add 1 teaspoon to flavour stews, soups etc. Roughly 1 teaspoon equals 1 cup stock.
When I’ve been given more citrus fruit than I can use, I weigh and prepare enough for a batch of marmalade to make later, then put in large bag to store in freezer. Later, I just measure the required sugar and water and cook in the usual way. Defrost the frozen fruit and cover with the water in large stockpot and leave overnight.
I wash and dry my herbs using a salad spinner. I then push them into a sandwich bag and roll like a sausage to freeze. I just slice as much as want when needed. I also keep my ginger in the freezer and grate when needed. There’s no need to peel it first.
When I peel potatoes to make mashed potatoes, I use a knife and collect the clean peelings into a bowl. I add herbs, seasonings and olive oil and bake them in a hot oven – yummy baked potato skins to enjoy as a snack or lunch the next day. You can add carrots or parsnip skins too.
Instead of putting your meal leftovers in a plastic container, serve it on plates. Top the plates up with frozen vegetables, if necessary, then cover with cling wrap and freeze. Now, we can easily see that we have instant ready-to-go meals when we open the freezer.
Always have a basic frozen pizza in your freezer – margarita works well. When you have certain things leftover (most cooked veggies, pineapple, any meat), and can’t be bothered or don’t have time to cook, just put your leftovers on the pizza and shove it in the oven for 20 minutes.
Take everything left in your veggie drawer, stems included. Chop everything and sauté with some garlic and olive oil on a medium heat in a large pot for about three minutes. Add two kettles of boiled water and around 6 chicken stock cubes. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Use your old bread crusts for croutons and top with pesto and Parmesan, if you have any. This makes a dinner for family of six in 30 minutes.
When bottling apples I keep all of the peelings and cores to use as a base for jams. Boil them for 3-4 hour and then strain them through a muslin cloth or sieve. If you’re not going to make the jam straight away it can be frozen until you need it.
If you can afford one, a breadmaker can save a lot of waste. If you don’t have much room in your freezer to store loaves of bread, storing the ingredients (flour, yeast, salt, butter or oil) to make your own bread is easier than going to the shops to get bread when you run out. We set ours up so it bakes the bread overnight so we have fresh bread in the morning to make the kid’s lunches with.
Turn your broccoli stalks into healthy chips. Peel the stalks and slice them finely. Toss them in some olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Spread them in a single layer on a tray and then bake in a hot oven until they are golden. Keep an eye on them as they cook and turn them once.
Herbs can be dried in the microwave—a process that, in fact, preserves their flavour better than using ovens or dehydrators. Remove stems, place herbs between two paper towels, and microwave on full power for 1 minute. If not completely dry, continue to cook and check in 20-second intervals. Stop early if you smell burning.