Food Bank: Making the best of Food Waste

Last week, Jeannie was given the opportunity to tour Foodbank for a behind-the-scenes peek at the amazing facilities and the team hard at work. She even got to enjoy a lunch prepared in the kitchens from rescued food.

That’s Jeannie on the far right!

Most of us know that we have a big problem with food waste in Australia. But did you know that over 300,000 people in WA live below the poverty line and struggle to access regular nutritious food? And thanks to Covid19, many people are now experiencing food insecurity for the first time.

Such a mammoth effort being made every day

Foodbank is an organisation that tackles both these issues, rescuing food that would otherwise go to waste, often on a huge scale and turning it into delicious, nutritious meals for those who need it most. And on top of all that, they now package the meals in compostable packaging!!

In the 25 years since its inception, the organisation has saved 50 million kilograms of food from landfill and provided 100 million meals.

You can read more about it here https://www.foodbank.org.au/?state=wa

Maybe you’d like to consider making a less fortunate persons Christmas a little bit brighter this year, with a donation to Foodbank’s Uncancel Christmas appeal?https://www.foodbank.org.au/WA/uncancel-christmas/?state=wa


Secret Santa Hints

Jeannie’s family loves Christmas. LOVES it. They are close and love the chance to spend time together, laugh, sing and eat (we love that too). But Christmas these days looks vastly different to 5 years ago.

Back then, the aftermath of the Christmas morning unwrap was epic. Piles of wrapping paper, cards, envelopes, packaging, and in amongst the quality gifts, plenty of junk, stuff that was well-intended but never to be used. Things for that “so hard to buy for” person, destined for a dark cupboard, the op shop, or worse still, landfill. Her family was never going to give up gift-giving altogether, but they have made huge changes.

A few years ago, they agreed on a family “Secret Santa”. They use a Gift Exchange platform called Draw Names https://www.drawnames.com.au which allows them to secretly pick a name, and on their own profile, they can make a Wishlist of experiences and needed items. They decided to make the upper limit generous (as they are only buying one gift now) and all this means they can buy a quality gift that will be valued, and the “surprise” of the day is finding out who has whom!

Once they had that bit nutted, Jeannie’s sister got her seamstress on and made simple, large calico bags, one for each family member with their names embroidered on. Now part of the ritual is grabbing the bag that belongs to your person and placing their gifts inside. No more gift wrapping!

Christmas morning looks, different now, but it honestly feels better, more fulfilling, and is free from the guilt of overspending, overconsuming, and creating so much waste!


Gingerbread Biscuits

Great as gifts or just as a tasty treat, these gingerbread biscuits are a hit!

Ingredients

125g butter

1/3 cup of brown sugar

1/4 cup of castor sugar

1/4 cup of golden syrup

1 egg lightly beaten

2 cups of plain flour

1/4 cup of SR flour

1 tbs ground ginger

1 tsp bicarb soda

Method

1. In a mixer beat butter, sugar, syrup until light and creamy. Beat in egg gradually.

2. Sift in the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Knead on a well-floured surface for 1-2 mins.

3. Roll out the dough (about 5mm thick) and refrigerate for 15 mins until it is firm enough to cut. Cut out your desired shapes and transfer to a lined baking tray.

4. Bake 180C for 10 mins or until golden brown. Allow to cool before decorating!

*Tip, you can wash out and reuse piping bags!


Christmas Gift Guide

On the hunt for eco-friendly Christmas presents? Get comfy, put your feet up and window shop from home this year with our gift guide full of wonderful gifts for everyone.

Thank You gifts

For the Little Ones

For the Entertainers

For Pet Lovers

For the Beauties

For 'Chat over a Cuppa' types

For the On the Go types

For the Conscious Cleaners

Just a few ideas to get you inspired!!

Much more available in-store and online.

Find it at your local store here


Dark chocolate almond bar

Ingredients

– 2 1/2 cups of dry roasted almonds

– 300g dark chocolate buttons

– A pinch of salt

Method

– Put the chocolate buttons in a heatproof bowl (glass) over a small pot of boiling water. Once the chocolate has melted, add in the almonds and stir until completely covered.

– line a baking tray with baking paper (reusable of course 😉 ). Spoon the chocolate and nut mixture into the tray and smooth out until it is an even thickness.

– Let it cool at room temperature or in the refrigerator until the chocolate has set. Sprinkle with salt and serve!

So delicious and easy! Great for gifts or just a cheeky snack for yourself.


Win the War on Waste This Christmas

What if this Christmas you could help reduce waste?

Wasteless Pantry was recognised by the Waste Authority of WA as Waste Champions for 2017 and Highly Commended as Waste Team of the Year in 2018, but we think we know a fair few champions ourselves.  Our community is full of great people showing the way for their families and friends in how to live a low waste lifestyle.  There is no better time of the year to lead others to this path than at Christmas when so many increase their already wasteful ways.

Every year millions of unwanted gifts are excessively packaged and wrapped, appreciated for only a moment before they are stored away unused, thrown away, regifted or sold.  Kerbside bins are overflowing with polystyrene, wrapping, packaging, wasted food and plastic bags from buying all this stuff in the first place.  It’s hardly a picture of love and peace toward all mankind.  All that rubbish will end up on someone’s doorstep or in the fish on someone’s plate!

Instead of getting wasted, let’s prepare ourselves for our most enjoyable and sustainable year yet.

Planning

The key to zero waste living, low waste lifestyles, or just taking a little more care about the waste we create is all in the planning.

Think ahead about the type of Christmas you want to have.  Is it important to you to have family traditions?  Spending time with loved ones? Being generous? Feeling relaxed and restful? Having lots of celebrations and fun? Eating great food?  Whatever the inspiration, remembering the overall big picture values you want to strive for will help you decide just how important that $2 plastic toy really is at this time of year.

When you are planning meals, plan to the plate, not to your stomach’s desires.  If you are anything like me then if there is a buffet style meal on offer you want to try a bit of everything!  With this in mind, cater for what will fit on a plate and no more.  If your guest has to have seconds just to try everything on offer there is a good chance you will have lots of leftovers to deal with.  Also, save yourself some effort and turn Christmas lunch leftovers into an easy Christmas dinner.  You don’t have to serve up a repeat of lunch, with minimal creativity you can still offer something that will be delicious using what is already at hand.

Share the load with preparing food and also with distributing out the leftovers.  Make sure everyone brings a sizable container for any leftovers and then you’ve given the gift of a Boxing Day that doesn’t require any cooking 🙂

Serve your favourite Christmas dishes in containers that are beautiful on display and also have lids for putting away any leftovers straight after the meal.  If it doesn’t make it to the fridge quickly and easily, there is a good chance it will get thrown out.  Plus no-one likes dodgy food or having to tackle the clingwrap.

Get your bins ready.  Whilst I would love to hear that you didn’t need a bin at all during the festive season, the reality is that most will.  So with that in mind, make sure your bins are clearly marked for recycling, composting, or even reusing (kids love boxes!).  Know your recycling facilities available too so that you can save as much as possible from landfill.

More ideas to come on this topic….

How are you getting ready for low waste celebrations?

 

Photo Credits:
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Super Easy & Zero Waste Entertaining

The celebrations of the Christmas and New Year period are all about good food shared with good people.  I’m most fond of meals that are made ahead so I get more time to chat and connect; with less time hanging out in the kitchen on my own.

So here is a tried and true meal plan for anytime you need to whip together a feast!

Starters

Dukkah, olive oil and chunks of crusty bread

[Zero waste tip – BYO containers to Wasteless Pantry for the dukkah and oil as well as taking your bread bag to the bakery for your bread (or make your own)]

Soya crisps, Nordic crackers, corn chips and smashed avocado with a little lemon juice, rice cracker salad or mixed nuts

[Zero waste tip – BYO containers to Wasteless Pantry for the snacks and use a reusable produce bag for the avocado.  Serve all the snacks in wide-mouthed upcycled jars so you just put the lid back on if they don’t get finished and nothing will go stale]

Main

Brown rice salad – super easy to make in about 20 minutes and if you have extra it is great for lunches the next couple of days.  Soak rice overnight if you want to speed up the cooking time.

[Zero waste tip – BYO containers for rice, seeds, currants, oil and soy sauce.  Feel free to substitute what you have e.g. red onion for shallots, any colour capsicum, sultanas for currants, dried garlic for fresh (just halve the quantity suggested)]

Roasted vegetables

[Zero waste tip – roast up any vegetables that you have handy, even if they are a bit limp, or shop with reusable produce bags.  You don’t need to peel potato, sweet potato, carrots or mushrooms, just pop them straight onto the tray.  Try reusable baking liners or oil up your tray instead of using the disposable sheets]

Roasted meat or chicken wings

[Zero waste tip – Pick smaller cuts of meat as these will take less time to cook (and less power to run your oven) and encourage your guests to eat more vegetables since it’s healthier for everyone anyhow.  Take your own container to your butcher to avoid the plastic bag and meat tray]

Dessert

Christmas Cake – it is super easy to make this cake that lasts up to 3 months so you will always have something on hand for unexpected visitors!

Fruit platter or grilled stone fruit sprinkled with cinnamon sugar

[Zero waste tip – eat what is in season, since there is so much local variety this time of the year anyhow! Whatever doesn’t get finished can be made into a fruit salad or smoothies for another day. In my opinion cinnamon sugar goes with everything so BYO container for this from Wasteless Pantry]

Bliss balls

[Zero waste tip – these can be made ahead and frozen in small batches so that you can whip them out as needed.  Also feel free to get creative with the ingredients by swapping in what you love and have on hand – maybe you prefer macadamia nuts or sunflower seeds, or dried apricots, or try adding in maple syrup if you like it sweeter and rolling in coconut or dip in chocolate for a more decadent treat.  The main thing is to use up what you have rather than having bits and bobs going stale in your pantry]

So there you have it, simple and delicious!

Customise to appetites and guests as needed.

Photo credits

Photo by Kate Remmer on Unsplash

Photo by Best Recipe Team

Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash

Photo by +Simple on Unsplash


Zero Waste Christmas Cake

The winning recipe from this years Wasteless Pantry Bake Off….

Old-fashioned Christmas Cake

Ingredients:

510g          sultanas

265g          raisins

155g          currants

150g          pitted dates (chopped)

100g          glace cherries (chopped)

75g   dried cranberries

75g   dried pineapple

50g   mixed peel

185ml brandy

2 tsp          finely grated orange rind

250g          softened butter

200g brown sugar

4       eggs

300g          plain flour

2 tsp mixed spice

 

* Blanched almonds & cherries to decorate

* 2 tbsp brandy to drizzle

 

Method:

Combine fruit and brandy in large bowl, cover with a lid and set aside for 2 days to macerate.

Grease a 22cm cake pan and line base with a reusable tray liner or grease a spring form cake pan.

Beat butter & sugar until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well until combined. Stir butter & fruit mixtures together. Add flour & mixed spice. Spoon into pan and tap lightly on benchtop to release any air bubbles, arrange almonds and cherries on top.

Bake at 150C covered with a bigger cake tin for 2 hours 30 mins to 3 hours. Drizzle hot cake with extra brandy. Cool thoroughly before turning out.

[Store in an airtight dark container for up to 3 months].

Recipe is adapted from http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/2102/christmas+cake

 


Practical Gift Giving Guide

The Lost Art of Not Giving Crap Presents

Do your Christmases and birthdays revolve around getting and giving plastic, over packaged trinkets and novelty gifts that are enjoyed for less than one hour and then become awkwardly pushed aside, dust collecting reminders of rushed decision making and consumerist manipulation?

Or maybe you’ve been regifted one of these little treasures?

I ask these questions not in judgement, but in awe of how easy it is to get caught up in the hype of the festive season and leave all reason behind.  As much as I love waste less living, reducing waste, talking rubbish and being thrifty and creative, this time of year I feel the pull of buying stuff.  Who doesn’t love showing how much they care by doing nice things for others?  The thing is, doing nice things for others is not the same as buying something, just to give something.  Thinking through the life of the purchase requires a little more in-depth enquiry.

Will this person find this novelty gift funny for years to come? Yes, great get it! No, then maybe just recap what you saw the next time you catch up.

Will this person have space for this gift in their home long term? Yes, fantastic! No, then is there something else consumable that might be more appreciated?

Does this item fit with who this person would like to be?  Yes, fantastic! No, show your support by not making them agonise over wanting to be grateful vs. becoming the person they want to be.

I get that picking out the right gift for someone is hard!  But I also wonder if sometimes we forget to ask, does this person even want a gift from me?  Would they rather my company, a hand with something or just a smile?

So I titled this blog post “Practical Gift Giving Guide” and whilst I think the most practical gift is often nothing at all, here are some other ideas that might relieve the need to give something good:

  • Handmade tea blends: How about pulling together your own blend of herbs and petals that would be most soothing for the person in mind?  Think a combination of lemongrass, peppermint, hibiscus, ginger & cinnamon for an uplifting blend or chamomile, lavender, rose petal, rosemary for a fragrant calming blend.
  • Fragrant bath bags: Much like an oversized tea bag for your bath.  Again, choose your own blend of loose herbal teas plus some Epsom salts and bicarb to relieve tension and soften skin.  Pop it all into a little refillable bag (like our soap nut bags) and you are good to go again and again.
  • Homemade soaps: Palm oil free soaps can be hard to come by, so stocking up for a friend who cares about this topic may be just the treat they were after.

  • Individual chocolate bars and rocky road: If you popped into Wasteless Pantry last week you would have had the opportunity to try out Christmas Bark (white chocolate topped with cranberries and pistachios).  It took me less than 15 minutes to make, was delicious and the combinations are endless!  Just melt chocolate buttons or bits of your choice and top with your friend’s favourite flavours.  Maybe they love dark chocolate topped with pepitas, hemp seeds, goji berries and slivered almonds; or perhaps white chocolate topped with trail mix and chia seeds? Delicious!
  • Reusable items: If you have a friend that is preparing for next years Plastic Free July or saw the War on Waste and wants to get themselves equip to waste less, how about supporting them.  Think BYO coffee cups, reusable shopping bags in pretty designs, produce bags, reusable baking liners, metal straws or stainless steel drink bottles.  It can be a bit of an investment to get yourself kitted out to start with so this type of thing is greatly appreciated.
  • Recipe jars: For that friend who loves the idea of cooking from scratch but finds it tedious to gather the ingredients, show your love by doing it for them (or get us to, we won’t tell on you!) and popping a recipe on the back of the container to make cooking a breeze.

Just a sample of ideas to get you started and you can always pop into Wasteless Pantry to have a chat if you have a very tricky friend to find something for.

You never know what inspiration you might find.

Photo credits:

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash

Photo by Yoori Koo on Unsplash