A zero waste kitchen is our ultimate goal for having a kitchen well organized, a flexible weekly meal plan and a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables. Here are some tips and recipes for a no-waste meal plan.
This post is Part 4 of a 4 article series: Organize your kitchen and eat healthily.
I go shopping only once per week to stock up my kitchen with all essentials (sauce, meat, carbs and seasoning), I only buy fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season and looks fresh and plan my meals accordingly.
Part 2: Italian Ingredients: A Comprehensive Guide
(plus my favourite brands and a printable shopping list)
A no-waste meal plan based on vegetables
The risk of stocking up your kitchen is that if you don't plan your meal accordingly your food gets old and goes to waste. However, instead of making a least of the meals you need to have for the entire week so all the food is used up, I use a simple strategy.
As I mentioned in my first article of the series, our typical day menu will look like the following:
- Breakfast: cereal, milk, juice, coffee or tea
- Lunch or dinner: protein, carbohydrates and vegetables
- Lunch or dinner: soup, pulse, charcuterie
- Snack: fruit or dessert
Before planning the meal for the day, I look in my fridge which is full of vegetables from my weekly shopping.
- I check which vegetables are mature and use them before they go bad.
- I keep for later in the week the vegetables that are long-lasting like cabbages or carrots.
- As for vegetables backup to use later in the week, I have a stock of preserved vegetables (e. g. tomato sauce can make a great lasagna), vegetables growing in the garden, or frozen friendly vegetables like peas or spinach.
- Keeping an eye on my vegetables each day helps reduce waste and has a positive impact on my weekly family vegetables intake.
The use of "Whatever" recipe
I have a long list of recipes that can be made with "Whatever" vegetables you have at home. They are the perfect meal to make when you need to use up vegetables in the fridge. So here are some example, you can follow the recipe or replace the vegetables with whats you have in the fridge:
- The Perfect Risotto Recipe
- Pasta dishes
- Pasta a Frittata: Italian Fried Pasta
- Baked Frittata
- Rice Arancini Recipe Gluten Free and Vegetarian
- Homemade Paella Seafood And Sausage
- Pork Casserole with Pineapple or Whatever
- ‘Whatever-Vegetables’ soup with spicy merguez sausages
- Meatballs with Vegetables and couscous
- A List Of Pizza Toppings With Fresh Vegetables
- Pizza Focaccia
- Rissole à la Dauphine
- Savory Crepes Spring Roll Style
- Vegetarian Rice Timbale with Grilled Aubergine Recipe
- Pear crumble recipe
- Simply Apple Cupcakes Recipe
What to do with leftover meat
With two teenage boys, it rarely happens to me but you may have some leftover meat you need to use up. There are many different ways you can repropose that meat, and they will never know:
Make a pie:
Pies are perfect for recycling meat or vegetables. Mix them with a bechamel sauce or some gravy, add some herbs, spices and vegetables, make a nice crunchy crust and everyone will eat happily. Here are some ideas:
Wrap it up:
Wraps are a wonderful way to eat fresh vegetables and meat. You can make them with anything, leftover barbecue meat, ham, boiled chicken.
The seasoning is very important: if the meat is too dry use mayonnaise, aioli or greek yoghurt. I like to add avocado and season it with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. If you want something sweet, add some balsamic vinegar.
You don't have any wraps at home? Make it yourself, it is so easy and delicious:
I don't feel like cooking, it is not a good excuse
"I don't feel like cooking, let's order in"...and throw away the food you have in the fridge?
That is not a good excuse, with all the kitchen gadgets we now have, you can make whatever meal in no time.
Using the right tools at the right time really optimizes your cooking time while improving food flavour, a win-win for all!
- The microwave, for example, is a great time saver and perfect for low-calorie meals. Courgettes, broccoli, carrots and cauliflowers can be steamed in the microwave with a tablespoon of olive oil, salt and a tablespoon of water. It only takes 5 minutes, they remain crunchy and you don’t have any pots to wash afterwards. Try the recipe: Baked Salmon Fillet In Oven With Steamed Zucchini
- Potatoes are the big winner in microwave cooking. No pealing, I just pierce them with a knife and cover them with kitchen paper, they are ready in 5 to 8 minutes depending on size. If your children don't want to eat steamed potatoes but are craving for french fries, cut the cooked potatoes in quarter add salt and pepper, sprinkle with olive oil and put them in the oven for 15 minutes.
- The pressure pan is another big time-saver; it reduces cooking time to ⅓, and the flavour of the meal is all captured inside. You can have a Bolognese sauce done in 30 minutes and with that, you can make lasagna with an additional 30 minutes.
- With the pressure cooker, you can make stocks and cook legumes in 30 minutes, maintaining a wonderful flavour and developing a creamy texture.
- Every once in awhile, cook a large quantity of vegetables and freeze them. The baked ratatouille is one of my favourites for this purpose. You can find more prep meal freezing idea in my previous article: Once a Month Freezer Meal Prep. When you don't feel like cooking, these delicious meals are there for you ready in only a few minutes.
- And remember, some recipes are even better the next day, like the caponata, .....The more time passes the better the flavours combine.
Not even scrap waste
I set my target high, would you?
I don't even want to waste scrap: eggshells, vegetable peels or hard leaves, so I compost.
How does a compost work
Compost is a way of recycling your food scrap by transforming it into natural plant fertilizer with the help of bacterias and fungus. It is a natural process a win-win for everybody, the environment and our health!
I do have the advantage of a garden so it is easier for me. However, you can find a small compost you can keep in the kitchen and use to fertilize your home plants and herbs. You have no excuse:
To find out more about compost, you can read the article on the Old Farmer Almanac: How to compost: cold and hot methods.
If you have a terrace in your apartment, here is a great solution you can use for your pot. Read about the worm tower in the article: Worm composting with worm towers.
The Ultimate No Food Waste Solution
During this period of crises, I went even further: I now have hens in my garden.
- they eat my green leaves scraps (cabbage external leaves, broccoli leaves, apple core)
- they eat dandelions from the garden
- they transform all this rubbish into fresh eggs
Even my dog Eddie is amused by them.
I hope you have found some good inspiration in the 4 articles of the series: Organize your kitchen and eat healthily. Especially in this time of crisis and uncertainties.
After all this is over, no doubt we will have to make some drastic changes in our life. So let's start now.
By improving the way we eat can benefit our bodies as well as the environment. Plan your time, eat fresh and educate your family for a healthier life. Now it is the right time!
If your target is also A zero waste kitchen or if you have any other suggestions, leave your comment below I would like to hear from you. You can find more delicious ideas if you FOLLOW ME on Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram or sign up to my newsletter.