As I explained in my Simplicious Food Waste Cheat Sheet for Trolls post last week, in my latest book, I Quit Sugar: SIMPLICIOUS, I plug doggie bags, double dunk my teabags and cook up my friends’ fish bones into stock, all of which apparently leaves some a little uncomfortable.

Last night's dinner with an egg stuck on top
Last night’s dinner with an egg stuck in the middle

But it’s necessary. And non negotiable. Food waste is the biggest pollution issue on the planet, surpassing industry and car emissions. And the biggest contributors to that wastage are consumers. 

Anyone gagging to make a difference to where our planet is at can start by not wasting food. It really is that simple. 

These are some of the things I do. Feel free to add to the list in the comments below and I’ll run a follow up post.

1. I don’t buy more until I’ve finished what I already have. I completely run out of yoghurt before I set out to buy another, that way I find myself using up the last of the sour cream or cheese in the interim.

2. I eat the WHOLE food. This means the apple with the core, and even the leaves from beetroot bunches (with oil, pepper and salt). Ditto the leaves from cauliflower and broccoli and daggy vegetables like swede, choko, and celeriac.

3. I don’t peel anything. When my veggies look lackluster, I make a big soup with lentils and bacon thrown in for flavour and protein. 

4. I ignore “best before” labels. The use-by date tells you when a food must be eaten for health and safety reasons, whereas the best-before date gives a rough indication of when it’s best to eat. Many countries have actually removed the “best before” date because they cause totally unnecessary food tossing. I ignore them. You should, too. 

5. I use drippings. I use last night’s meat to sweat my veggies, thus adding the right fats for absorbing the essential vitamins.

6. I rescue fish carcasses and chicken bones. I take them from my guests’ plates at dinner parties to make stock. My friends know me well enough to dump all their scraps onto my plate straight up.

7. I look for imperfect veggies. Most supermarkets now stock these deformed “rejects” at a portion of the price of the pretty picks and it saves them from being thrown out! If you’re not using your veg as props for an oil painting, always choose the rejects.

8. I re-use ziplock bags. I wash them, stick them onto my kitchen window, or splashback to dry them out.

9. I regenerate food. This way I create a perpetual kitchen. I explain this concept in full inI Quit Sugar: Simplicious.

10. I ask for a doggy bag when I don’t finish my meal at a restaurant. I mix the leftovers with veggies from the back of my fridge and stick an egg on top for a mishmash meal.

11. I buy discount meats, hard cheese and smallgoods in bulk. Perishable items are often discounted a few days before their “best before” date. I buy up and freeze what I can’t use straight away. Mince is a great one to buy when it’s discounted. I turn it into meatballs and freeze them immediately.

12. I slow cook. It’s the most sustainable (and nutritious) way to prepare your meals. Did you know that a slow-cooker uses less energy than a light bulb?

13. I cook cheap cuts-offs, offal and other unpopular parts of an animal. They’re cheaper, sustainable and often more flavoursome and nutritious.

14. I keep my freezer full. It’s more energy efficient that way, as solids freeze at a lower temperature than air.

15. I buy seasonally and locally. If it’s not in season you shouldn’t be eating it for a whole bunch of reasons – health, carbon miles and undercutting local farmers. Buying asparagus from Mexico or pink grapefruit from Peru is criminal.

16. I use the brine or oil from olives, anchovies or marinated feta as a salad dressing. Brine from canned tuna can be repurposed to sautee veggies and almost empty mustard jars become dressing shakers, to use up the very last bits.

17. I create different scrap bags in the freezer. I add vegetable and fruit cut-offs, herb stalks and other scraps as I go along. I have one for vegetable stock, chicken and fish stock, a leftover pesto bag and a smoothie bag.

18. I regrow the cut-off roots of the veggies and herbs I cooked with. This works with shallots, coriander and lemongrass, bok choy, celery and cos lettuce, ginger and turmeric. You can even repurpose the top of a pineapple to grow a hipster-esque palm plant!

What do you do to do your part? I would love to hear your tips in the comments below.


Have your say, leave a comment.

  • Melissa

    Hi Sarah. I heard on the news yesterday that the WHO are now advising that bacon and mince (among other things) are carcinogenic. Would love to hear your thoughts on this as I know you’ve got a chapter on mince meals in your new book. I also love cooking with lean good quality mince so it’s a shame to think it’s not a “safe” option. Love what you do so value your opinion on this 🙂

  • Sophie

    Cloth nappies. I know. .. nothing to do with food. But 1/3 of our land fill are disposable nappies. I’ve only just made the switch and annoyed I didn’t make more of an effort with my first two bubs. We are a family of 5 and not even filling our wheelie bin half way now!! Also I hate having to throw out the kids leftover porridge. I scrap into one bowl and save in the fridge. Reheating in a saucepan with extra milk the following morning or a few days after.

    • oh my goodness. I will have to do a post on ways parents can reuse toddlers leftovers!!

    • MJM

      Cloth nappies have a life long after the kids are toilet trained too. My cloth nappies served my nephew, then both of my kids. My youngest is turning 6 tomorrow but I still have all my cloth nappies, they’ve just moved into the laundry and have been my cleaning rags for years. Such good value and no landfill!

      As for kids scraps, I save what my kids don’t finish from dinner and it becomes my breakfast the next morning, fried up with some spinach or maybe an egg. What Sarah would call a mish-mash meal. I can’t stand throwing good food away!

    • LRtalks

      I keep our leftover porridge and turn it into muffins, adding the leftover bits of milk from steaming the milk for the morning coffees. Such a winner.

  • Artie Colwell

    I love this. I’ve been secretly hoarding leftover roast bones and meat from my dinner guests plates for years to make stock, from now on I wont hide it!
    I also love the idea of buying the ‘reject’ veggies – but I read somewhere recently that the farmers are paid close to nothing for them with all the profits going to the supermarkets, which is making it even harder for farmers. Rather than buying rejects, buy from markets – while it can sometimes be marginally more expensive the produce ALWAYS lasts longer because its fresher!

  • Cait

    I do many of these things as I too am passionate about reducing my food waste in order to reduce my environmental impact, but I have a question: I cut the fat from the bacon the other night before using the bacon in a fried rice as the family and I don’t like it too fatty, but now I have the uncooked bacon fat sitting in the fridge and I don’t know how to use it, any suggestions?

  • Kristīne Ceļmillere

    Dear Sarah, while I’m definitely with you as far as it concerns the food waste, buying local and seasonal, I find that your IQS programme is not sustainable, at least in Northen Europe where I live. I found that in IQS recepies, almost 2/3 of the ingredients (if not all) were not local where I live. Maybe in Australia they are. While I buy un-local things I use little and rarely (like spices for example), I certainly find it unsustainable to make coconut (milk, cream, flour, oil) from Philippines the daily ingredient in my kitchen, leaving local dairy and oils aside. The same goes for flours. Almond meal is exactly 40x times more expensive than wheat flour (yes, I said it right, 40 and not 4) and wheat is local while almonds are not. Substitute potato for sweet potato, the same thing. Sweet potato comes from Peru to my country. So for sure I find it more criminal to buy sweet potatoes instead of local ordinary potatoes than pink grapefruit because as far as grapefruits are concerned I buy them a few times a year and there are no local grapefruits at all. This said you are an ispiration anyhow to look for new, sustainable and local ways of quitting sugar. (By the way our Northen summers are so short that our fruit is very sour, and I suspect they do not contain even a half of the fructose one can find in their brothers from hotter countries)

  • Liz

    I’m based in the US and doggie bags are a very familiar concept here and are asked by most waitstaff at the end of the meal, inquiring whether you would like to take your leftovers to go. We always do – I find it so weird that this isn’t the case at home? The portions here are very big (slightly smaller in $$$ places but still more than you actually need) and it prevents waste. Given that Australia is heading (or is already there?) in the same direction, I thought doggie bags would be a cool thing to do 🙂

  • Jon

    I’m so glad to hear you rescue the fish bones for stock, I do that too, and all meat bones go into the freezer with old soft veg and I make my meat stock from that.

  • Cee

    If I used up all my scraps and bits and bobs in my food…what the heck would my poor little chooks get to eat for a treat. Surely they’re entitled to the scummy outer cabbage leaves and the cauliflower leaves and what not?!