Top tips and delicious recipes to help you cut down on food waste

Hannah Twiggs
·11-min read
<p>According to the Drawdown Project, fighting food waste is the number one solution to reversing the climate crisis</p> (Getty/iStock)

According to the Drawdown Project, fighting food waste is the number one solution to reversing the climate crisis

(Getty/iStock)

If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, a third of all food grown in the world is thrown away.

When food is thrown away, it isn’t just the produce that goes to waste: it’s also the water and energy that went into growing, storing and transporting it. An annual total of 66 trillion gallons of water goes towards growing food we don’t eat, and would be saved if we only grew what we needed.

According to the Drawdown Project, fighting food waste is the number one solution to reversing the climate crisis and stopping the planet from getting 2C warmer by 2100. If that doesn’t sum up the importance of the food waste reduction mission, I don’t know what does.

Neither does Oddbox, which is tackling the issue head on by delivering weekly boxes of the delicious “too odd” or “too many” fruit and vegetables directly from growers to its customers. With over 2 million boxes delivered since it launched in 2016, Oddbox has already saved 13,790 tonnes of food waste – the equivalent of how much food 29,977 people would eat in a year, with a goal of saving 35,000 tonnes by 2025.

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This Earth Day, the vegetable delivery box company (or, as they like to be known, weekly rescue mission) wants to shine a light on the massive impact that food waste has on the environment and how people can take action to save our planet, for Earth Day and beyond.

From vegetable skins and scraps to regrowing your veg and eating what’s already been grown, Oddbox’s CEO and cofounder, Emilie Vanpoperinghe, has plenty of tips on how you can easily join the fight against food waste from the comfort of your own kitchen.

Join the movement and get wonky veg delivered straight to your door with an Oddbox subscriptionOddbox
Join the movement and get wonky veg delivered straight to your door with an Oddbox subscriptionOddbox

Skin on, always

It’s time to take a step back and put the peeler down. You might be surprised how many types of vegetable and fruit we spend time peeling, when we really don’t have to. Beetroot, squash, potatoes, carrots, and even bananas taste just as good, if not better, with skins on. For example, banana peel can be enjoyed in hot drinks. You can prepare a soothing tea by boiling it in water, then serve with milk or sweeten to taste as with other teas. You can even add banana peel to hot chocolate or a cup of coffee for a distinct flavour. The truth of the matter is that we often just peel things because that’s what we’re “used” to doing. So save yourself the trouble and time and go skin on.

Save your scraps

We admit there are some parts of your vegetables that can’t be cooked and eaten directly. But that doesn’t mean they need to go in the compost. For every meal you make, throw all the organic waste into a container and pop it in the freezer – vegetable peelings, onion skin, carrot tops, mushroom stalks and herb stems – you name it and it can probably go in. At the end of the week, empty all that you’ve saved into a heavy bottomed pan, season with salt and cover with plenty of water. A bay leaf or two and some turmeric is also a nice edition, but not essential. Then bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and let it simmer away for a few hours.

Or regrow them

Want to flex your green thumb? Instead of making a stock, some vegetable scraps can be regrown into delicious produce in your own home with a little help from some sunshine, water and a little TLC. Spring onion, lettuce and herbs are a few examples of veg that can be regrown, providing you with delicious produce from scraps you might have otherwise thrown away.

Eat what’s already been grown

It’s easy to do your bit for food waste in your own kitchen, but how do you make an impact at a farm level? That’s where Oddbox comes in. Our weekly rescue mission brings delicious “too odd” or “too many” fruit and veg directly from farms to homes across London, the south and the Midlands later this month. This is the stuff that’s deemed “too big”, “too ugly”, the “wrong” colour, or “not needed” by supermarkets, and would otherwise go to waste.

A use for avocado skins

Want a quirky hack to make the most of your avocado skin? We’ve found they work very nicely as plant pots. It might sound strange, but their natural shape makes them the perfect size for windowsill pots to grow other veggies and plants. Simply pack with compost and add the seedlings.

Ignore best-before

See a best-before or sell-by date on your produce? Ignore it. These don’t tell you that food is unsafe to eat – they are simply used by shopkeepers to tell them when to rotate their stock and are only an estimation of the freshness of your food. It’s the use-by date you need to take seriously. The Food Standards Agency recently found that 50 per cent of people don’t always check the use-by date on food that could be dangerous to eat after a certain time – so don’t ignore this.

Instead, smell it, touch it, look at it

Instead of relying on arbitrary best-before dates, at Oddbox we’re big fans of letting our senses tell us whether food should still be eaten. Smell it, feel it, look at it – maybe even have a small taste. While erring on the side of caution, using common sense to determine what can still be eaten helps keep food waste down.

Zero-waste vegan butternut squash tacos

Swap squash for your favourite veg, or speed things up by buying pre-made guac and tacosOddbox
Swap squash for your favourite veg, or speed things up by buying pre-made guac and tacosOddbox

The perfect addition to your Mexican night! This recipe uses the whole butternut squash – skin and seeds included. Not a fan of butternut squash? Swap it out for your favourite veg for roasting; beetroot, parsnip, courgette… whatever you fancy.

The tacos freeze well – simply stack on to baking paper once cooked, and freeze. Then defrost and reheat.

In a rush? Ready-made guacamole and tacos work just as well.

Recipe by: Storm @whatstormeats

Prep time: 20 mins | Cooking time: 30 mins

Makes: 10 tacos

Ingredients

For the tacos:

150g of masa flour (or plain flour)

180ml warm water

Pinch of fine salt

For the filling:

500g butternut squash, chopped with skin on and seeds removed

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp paprika

Pinch of chilli flakes

Olive oil

For the avocado chilli crema (optional; feel free to use ready-made guac, or your choice of hummus)

1 avocado

1 jalapeño chilli

50ml lime juice

Salt

To finish

Seeds

Squash seeds

½ tsp paprika

Salt

Olive oil

Method

1) Prep your veg and preheat the oven to 180C. Prepare your butternut squash by chopping into inch-size pieces – no need to cut the skin off, it’ll go crispy in the oven. Pop the squash on the tray, drizzle with some olive oil, and sprinkle with the spices. Toss the squash pieces to ensure they are all coated, and roast in the oven for 20 minutes. On a separate tray, add the seeds and drizzle olive oil, paprika and sea salt, and pop in the oven for 5 mins.

2) Prepare your taco dough by making a well in the flour and slowly adding your warm water to form a soft dough. Knead for a few mins until smooth before rolling into ping-pong-sized balls. To press them, place the ball between two pieces of baking paper and place a heavy pan on top – or a tortilla press! In a hot pan, cook the tacos for 2 mins each side until they puff up. Wrap in a tea towel to keep warm.

3) Avocado crema: blend the avocado, chopped chilli, lime juice and whizz until smooth. Season with a pinch of salt.

4) Build your tacos: pop on some of the avocado crema or choice of spread/hummus on to your homemade tacos; top with sweet, spicy butternut squash and scatter over those crunchy seeds!

Skin-on kiwi pancakes

Cut off the hard bits on the outside of a kiwi, but keep the restOddbox
Cut off the hard bits on the outside of a kiwi, but keep the restOddbox

Recipe by: Camille @callherchef

Prep time: 10 mins | Cooking time: 10 mins

Makes: 5-6 pancakes

Ingredients

For the pancakes:

2-3 kiwis

150g self-raising flour

20g porridge oats

1 tsp chia seeds

1 tsp baking powder

190ml oat milk

15ml extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp honey

For cooking:

Coconut oil or olive oil

For the topping:

Honey

Flaked almonds

Method

1. Cut the kiwis: cut off the small kiwi extremities which are very hard and bitter and make sure to compost them. Slice the kiwis with the skin on, and cut them into cubes.

2. Make the pancake batter: stir all of the dry pancake ingredients together. Make a well and add all the wet pancake ingredients. Fold in the kiwis. Whisk to form a smooth, thick batter.

3. Cook the pancakes: warm a teaspoon of coconut oil in a pan over a medium heat. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of pancake batter into the pan. Cook on one side for 3 minutes until golden. Turn and cook on the other side for 2-3 minutes, until puffed and golden. Repeat until the pancake mixture is finished. Serve on their own or with topping of choice. I used honey and flaked almonds.

Crispy vegan broccoli stalk croquettes

The stalk of a broccoli is so often chucked away but is actually very nutritiousOddbox
The stalk of a broccoli is so often chucked away but is actually very nutritiousOddbox

This tasty vegan recipe is the ultimate no-waste recipe as it uses the whole broccoli stalk. The stalk of the broccoli is so often chucked away but is actually very tasty and packed full of nutrients. No broccoli? You can replace with spinach or any other greens; just make sure you squeeze out all excess water. These croquettes also freeze really well.

Recipe by: Storm @whatstormeats

Makes: approx 12 croquettes

Prep time: 20 mins | Cooking time: 15 mins (excluding preparing/baking the potatoes)

Ingredients

For the croquettes:

250g broccoli stalk (and any extra florets you have)

3 large potatoes (baked and mashed)

2 spring onions, chopped

Pinch of chilli flakes

50g vegan cheese

125g flour

100ml plant-based milk

75g breadcrumbs

Veg oil for frying

For the garlic and herb mayonnaise:

1 garlic clove, crushed

A few sprigs of parsley, roughly chopped

50g vegan mayonnaise

Method

1. Prepare your potatoes by baking in the oven, or boiling. Baking means the potato will be drier, so easier for shaping but takes a little longer. Make sure you keep those skins for crisps or snacking on!

2. Cut the broccoli stalks into pieces and pop into a pot of boiling water for a couple of minutes until tender. Remove from the water and roughly chop into small pieces.

3. Mix the mashed potatoes, broccoli, chopped spring onions, 50g of the flour and the cheese. Mix, and season generously with salt, pepper and a pinch of chilli flakes.

4. Prepare three separate bowls: one with flour, one with the plant-based milk and the final one with the breadcrumbs. Form the croquettes with your hands and coat them with flour, followed by the milk, and then the breadcrumbs.

5. Heat vegetable oil in a small pan until it reaches approximately 180 degrees. You can also bake these but they won’t be as crunchy. Fry in batches until golden brown; drain on a paper towel.

6. Mix your vegan mayo with a clove of crushed garlic and some finely chopped herbs (parsley and chives work great). Serve alongside your crispy broccoli croquettes.

Zero-waste whole orange and almond cake

A genius way of using whole orangesOddbox
A genius way of using whole orangesOddbox

This gluten and dairy-free cake is a genius way of using whole oranges and was introduced to the world by the wonderful cookery writer Claudia Roden.

Recipe by: Georgia @georgia_levy_

Prep time: 1 .5 hrs | Cooking time: 1 hr

Ingredients

2 large oranges, approx 375-400g, scrubbed

1 tbsp olive oil

50g demerara sugar

6 eggs

250g caster sugar

250g ground almonds

1 tsp baking powder

Icing sugar, to dust

Method

1) Pierce the oranges a few times, then place in a pan, cover with plenty of water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 60-80 minutes until the oranges are completely soft. Top up the water as needed. Alternatively, cover in water and place in the microwave and cook on high for 10 minutes.

2) Remove from the water, allow to cool slightly, then cut in half and remove as many seeds as you can find. Place in a food processor or blender and blitz to a fine puree. While the oranges are cooking, grease a 22cm loose-bottomed cake tin with oil and sprinkle with the demerara so it’s evenly coated, bottom and sides.

3) Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Using a handheld whisk or stand mixer, whisk the eggs and sugar together until fluffy, about 2 minutes, then whisk in the remaining ingredients, including the orange puree and half a teaspoon of salt.

4) Pour into the prepared tin, smooth the top, then place in the oven for 60-70 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.

Join the mission at oddbox.co.uk

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