Few things in life are more enjoyable than a hearty, sociable meal with close friends. However, cooking for a dinner event can often create a large amount of waste.
With the current ecological crises and resources at an all-time low, we should constantly look for ways to minimise our ecological impact. Is it possible to entertain without creating such exorbitant refuse? Let’s look at some cooking methods aimed at filling your pots, not you garbage bin.
Waste not, want not
Take a second to think about what you are throwing away. You might assume there is no use for those leftover veggies or stale bread from your last party, but think again.
Leftover foods like mashed potatoes or roasted vegetables are perfect for adding bulk and pleasant flavour to a new soup starter. A stale loaf of good quality bread can be the base of an exquisite panzanella. Even the bony leftovers from last week’s roast chicken are a valuable commodity. You can use just about any carcass to make your own restaurant quality stock.
Learn from experience
Estimating how much food to serve at a dinner party is a tricky sum. Rightfully, we’d rather err on the side of caution by preparing too much. The trick to minimising waste is to learn from past over-preparation. Next time you host, write down how much food you prepare, how many guests you serve and how much is left over. The next time you prepare the dish, you’ll have a much better idea of the ideal quantity.
The same rule applies to your day-to-day groceries. If you find you are often throwing away limp vegetables or sour milk, adjust your shopping habits to buying less fresh produce more frequently.
Set yourself a challenge to use only ingredients that can go straight into your cookware without ever being wrapped, bottled or canned. Packaged foods often lack the nutrients found in fresh, organic produce and create an exorbitant amount of waste. As far as possible, buy loose fruit and vegetables, herbs and meats.
When buying groceries like grains or cheese by weight, take your own re-usable packaging to the deli instead of using their plastic wrapping.
Just a few simple adjustments to your cooking habits can turn your next dinner into a waste-free feast. Thanks goodness an eco-friendly lifestyle doesn’t mean we have to stop entertaining.
Author BioEmily Apple is a freelance writer, artist and jewellery designer. She has a deep-set love for the beautiful things in life and a passion for interior decorating. Her home in Cape Town, South Africa is a tribute to her love for art, entertaining and relaxation.