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Guide: 10 tips to stop wasting food

Your guide to getting the most out of your leftovers - and to stop filling your trash

Your average single person in Denmark chucks out nearly 100 kg of food a year, as reported by the University Post here. This corresponds to the weight of a big person.

We’re immersed in an era of abundance. Food is cheap, easily available, and the temptation of buying in bulk is omnipresent and difficult to resist.

But maybe it is time for a revolution! Maybe we should raise our lunch boxes in protest. Pick up that roll of freezer bags at the back of the drawer, and look at those overripe bananas through different eyes.

If we do this, we can save money, be more responsible consumers, spend a nice time with our flatmates, skip cooking on a lazy Sunday (or a busy Tuesday), and take care of the environment too.

1. Make your grandma proud

Our grandparents are often mistresses and masters on leftovers management. This art has almost been completely lost in present society, but that doesn’t make it obsolete. So if no more sautéed vegetables fit on your dish, store them on the fridge and get creative the next day. What about topping some rice with them?

In need of ideas? Look at this Danish site to get your creativity running.

2. Share those bags

Buying in bulk is cheaper, indeed, but those three lemons are probably going to shrink to one third of their size at the bottom of your fridge drawers before you notice them – and turn green and mouldy soon after that. Talk to your flatmates and share the big fruits and vegetables bags with them.

3. Do it on purpose

If you’ve managed to overcome the fear of placing yourself in front of the stove (or to squeeze in some time for healthy cooking between all those courses and lectures), don’t wait until you’re in the mood again: cook double, let cool, and freeze the extra portion. You’ll get to eat some home-made tasty lunch the next day or later, which is always a plus if you want to brag of your cooking abilities.

4. One spoilt fruit, means just one spoilt fruit!

So you live alone and a one or two apples have started to go bad. There’s no need to throw all the bag away, though! Select the clean ones and put them aside before taking a small knife and trying to cut out the spoilt parts of the remaining pieces of fruit or vegetables.

5. The wonders of blanching

Blanching, not bleaching! After clearing that up, blanching is a method that will allow you to buy those two kilos of carrots without getting an overdose of curried carrot soup. All you need is boiling water, lemon juice, a strainer, cold water, a tea towel, and plastic bags or containers. Oh, and of course… A freezer!

Check this guide for the basics.

6. Use your nose

You fear that you haven’t made it on time, and that steak looks a bit too suspicious. Believe it or not, your nose is a very useful kitchen tool, even when untrained. When food, cooked or not, is beyond recovery, your nose will tell you so. Sniff those leftovers!

7. Respect your elders

Wrinkles are beautiful – and tasty! Prepare smashed potatoes or potato soup with those old tubers. Carrot breads, banana smoothies, or sautéed cucumbers are just a few of the recipes which will help you to use that food that’s about to go to waste, and at the same time, cook something yummy, healthy, and filling.

8. Learn the basics

Avoid the drama of throwing away whole rice because you didn’t read the cooking instructions. Read before taking the pots out, or do some research on Internet. How much time does it take for those lentils to be ready for dinner? Why does my eggplant taste so horribly bitter? The truth is out there!

9. Check the fridge first

You’re hungry, and in a cooking mood, so halfway to success! However, it’s time to draw a line between what you want and what you need. Don’t succumb to the temptation of going to buy two kilos of onions yet. Go to the fridge and check what’s in there and the expiry dates. Then, if needed, go to the shop and buy what you need to make your favourite pizza topping combo.

10. Dive into dumpsters

So you’ve managed to save those leftovers from Tuesday’s soup, and the rice from Saturday’s party. But if you feel like you want to do more, dumpster diving may be your thing. The amount of food thrown away by bakeries and supermarkets will sure satiate your hunger for a week – and much, much more –, and make you save lots money. However, remember to clean after yourself. Always! Be a conscious, discreet, tidy diver, and you’ll be able to go back.

For some advise on where to dive into dumpsters in Copenhagen, check this wiki here.

For more, check out our report on dumpster diving in Copenhagen.

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