How to compleat fruits and vegetables and reduce food waste

Kitchen cupboards looking a little bare? Worried about food waste? Our Eco Living Editor, Ellen Tout, explains how we can 'compleat' different fruits, vegetables and herbs – cooking with the parts we usually throw away. Creative, waste-free plant-based cooking awaits!

by Ellen Tout

Compleating waste-free cooking

Many of us are worried about food sources in light of recent events. Could this be an opportunity to cut down on supermarket shopping and shake up your meals? Even the thriftiest of chefs might be surprised to learn that 70 per cent of the food households throw out could have been eaten. When we read stats like that, we usually imagine wasted meals and forgotten leftovers, but a huge portion of our waste is the food we don’t even consider eating. By that I mean items such as vegetable peels, offcuts and so-called scraps.

What is compleating?

One of my favourite ways to make the most of my food is compleating. Simply by eating all edible parts of your produce, your meals go further, your food waste disappears, and your meal planning and cooking is instantly more creative. How often do you throw out vegetable peels and seeds? Why not toss them in a little oil and salt, roast on a tray for 10 minutes and enjoy some homemade crisps? Got some greens wilting in your fridge? You could blitz them into pesto, bring them back to life in a stir-fry or turn them into pici pasta – really easy to make, delicious and nutritious!

Produce such as carrot tops, herb stalks and beet leaves can be used in place of lettuce to make a salad. Fresh mint can be picked to make a waste-free cup of tea. And any stale ends of bread can be mixed with stock and baked in the oven with sage, rosemary, onion and lentils, if you have them – and viola, you’ve got DIY, low-cost stuffing. And those vegetable scraps for which you lack inspiration? Those can be saved in the freezer to later boil and make your own broth. There’s lots more inspiration and recipes on the Love Food, Hate Waste website.

Grow your own waste-free food

Why not dedicate some time to starting that vegetable patch? Now is the ideal season to sow seeds for tomatoes, squash, kale, beans and more. Love It TV has launched a free video series called Dig For Victory, with step-by-step guidance to get you growing your own food, whether in your garden or on a sunny windowsill. ‘It saves you money and allows you to be healthy, out in nature doing stuff that is good for your head and body,’ says Daniel Dobbie, who is leading the campaign. Put in the work now and you’ll soon reap the rewards. Chop-chop!

More compleating recipes

Follow Eco Living Editor @Ellen_Tout on Twitter and on Instagram follow Ellen @ellen_tout and for Ellen's waste-free compleating food ideas, follow @compleatly_vegan

Ellen Tout compleating vegan

For more eco ideas, see psychologies.co.uk/real-eco

Do you have a sustainability question? For planet-saving advice, email ellen.tout@psychologies.co.uk with ‘Eco worrier’ in the subject line. 

Image: Getty and Leanne Bracey.

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