Why I Cook – 14 Reasons to Learn to Cook from Scratch

Long ago I cooked but didn’t know the pleasure of it.  Long ago I did what needed to be done – pouring in a jar of this or cracking a packet of that – solely because we needed to be fed.  I didn’t understand the rich, rewarding experience that cooking could be.

The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.  THOMAS MOORE

I am not talking about the Master Chef style event of cooking or the “I’m better than you” soufflé dinner party designed to elevate status.  I am talking about the daily practice of making meals, handcrafting the simplest dishes (whether heated or raw) into something wonderful and nourishing (nutritious or not).

So here are my reasons for learning to cook from scratch:

  1. Home cooked food is fresh and perishable.  The ability for my food to be picked at its ripest and most flavoursome, prepared and then needs to be eaten before it is wasted is a delight to me.  Food that is overly processed has never satisfied me the way a home cooked meal will.  The idea that it can last for weeks, months or years due to preservatives, too much sugar or too much fat scares the bejebbies out of me!
  2. I know what it is that I am eating.  I know what ingredients have been used and I can tailor it to suit my tastes and dietary needs.
  3. I know where it came from.  Cooking from scratch gives me the opportunity to connect to my local providers and grounds me in the place that I live.  If you have ever prepared a dish using food grown in your own garden you will know what I mean.
  4. The accomplishment and skills you will learn from cooking are immeasurable.  It is not just how to bake a loaf of bread, but also patience and good judgement to let it rise for just long enough.
  5. Cooking from scratch is a sensory experience.  You are engaging all your senses.  From the touch of the produce to the visually appetising display to the aromas of fresh baking or the sound of toasted pine nuts on the pan, all the way to the final tastes as your meal is served.
  6. Food has a way of bringing you back to the present moment and to the full experience of life.  Cooking from scratch is essential for slow living in this busy busy world.
  7. The skill of cooking is a skill in crisis management.  Knowing how to cook means that last minute entertaining, one more day to pay day and sick days can all be managed without scrambling to the shops or having to buy takeout.
  8. Whether it is magic and love or science, cooking is a marvel of nature.  The way that flavours and ingredients can be combined into something delicious. The chemical reactions that go into brewing your own ginger beer, creating ANZAC cookies or thickening a sauce are simply amazing if you stop to notice.  Try making pasta from egg, flour, oil and a little salt and tell me that isn’t the coolest trick in the book!
  9. It connects you to the seasons.  In winter I love cooking soups and stews as it warms my body and my home.  In summer I prefer salads and light meals. I know that spring has sprung when my asparagus are ready to harvest and I know that winter is upon us when my raspberry plant finally stops providing us with fruit.
  10. There is belonging that comes from cooking together and even doing the dishes.  Sometimes you don’t have the words, but preparing a meal together or helping in the kitchen provides the opportunity to show that you care, that you share this common ground and that bonds can be strengthened through the most simple of acts.
  11. Cooking from scratch allows every cook an outlet for creativity.  Even if you follow the recipe, that meal will be slightly different, slightly more you.
  12. One of my favourite reasons is this – another chance to live ‘hands-on’.  I love practical things and the opportunity to get my hands dirty.  To step away from the overly analytical and theoretical aspects of our existence and embrace instead the simple pleasures available every day.
  13. Of course, cooking your own meals also means that you have control over the waste you produce.  From packaging, to food miles, to food waste, it is your choice!
  14. Sharing food that you have made with care and effort has so much more meaning.  My most enjoyable meals have been at home dinner tables breaking her bread, trying his sauce and serving up helpings of my pasta.  Simply magnificent.

Do you cook from scratch?

What do you think is a good reason to get on board and learn something new?


Bulk Food Store Skills: 9 Ways to Shop at Wasteless Pantry

Shopping Options at Wasteless Pantry, more than another Bulk Food Store

We want it to be as easy and enjoyable as possible to shop at a bulk food store just like ours.  We know that it seems daunting to start with when you are just getting started on your waste less or zero waste journey! But, really, it doesn’t need to be inconvenient or difficult.  Just start with a few products and then expand from there.  Bulk food stores are there to help you reduce your food waste, by allowing you to only buy in the quantity you actually need.  This way when you get home you have just enough for the meal you are making, without the leftover prepackaged amount staring at you guiltily every time you open your pantry.  Plus, because you have only bought what you need, you know that it is as fresh and tasty as it should be.  No stale spices, no inactive yeast, and no using up last years latest super food.  Just remember to bring your shopping list so you don’t get tempted to buy all the goodies you find and be sure to bring your reusable shopping kit of reusable shopping bags, produce bags and containers if you are trying to reduce your packaging waste too!

So apparently there are at least 9 options for shopping at Wasteless Pantry – check out our latest how-to video on Youtube…

  1. Use paper bags
  2. Use a produce bag
  3. Fill reused containers – bring your own or grab donated ones
  4. Fill a new reusable container
  5. Pick up pre-bagged mixes
  6. Drop off your containers for filling
  7. Drop off a shopping list
  8. & 9.  Call or email your shopping list to be filled & picked up at your convenience

So there you have it, so many options to get you started.  Are you ready?


Who Do We Think We Are?

We are not a franchise (yet :P).

 

We are not business people using green washing to make a buck.

 

We are not health super foodies (although we do like healthy food).

So if not that, who are we?

Jeannie is a Mum.  She is also a Local who seems to know everyone and doesn’t go a day without having a visitor to the store wanting to chat.  She is a Paramedic by trade.  Jeannie is also a keen gardener and chook keeper.  She grew up on an orchard.  And she is a sustainably sourced palm oil enthusiast who is passionate enough about Zero Waste Living to start a store with….
Amanda, who is also a Mum.  A local too and can dehydrate, preserve, bake, grow and create more than you would expect.  A Psychologist by trade, locavore at heart and dedicated enough to the Zero Waste Living cause to convert a few ladies to Diva/Juju cups and produce bags.
Together the idea for the store was conceived, developed and nurtured into what it is, as well as what it is growing into.

Luckily we have great staff supporting us.

You would have met Lizzy who is our sustainability expert and sushi maker.  Lizzy was the one juggling produce bags on Facebook a little while back.  She has a keen interest in waste reduction and learning about all the foods we have on offer, especially the rices and spices.
Jade is our most knowledgable source of gluten free healthy food ideas.  She is studying health coaching and can talk about raw, paleo, dairy free, gluten free and many other specific diet options in practical terms (not something you come across often)!
James is a violinist who is studying Molecular Genetics and Biotechnology.  He is developing his waste reducing skills through his family’s enthusiasm for the idea.  James is super helpful and willing to make your visit as enjoyable as possible.
Emily is studying Occupational Therapy and comes from a family who values living waste free.  She is growing her knowledge of which companies are ethical and sustainable in their business practices.  Emily is highly involved in the community and keen to help anyone who is finding the change to a more sustainable lifestyle challenging.
So that’s us.

Not a fanatic, megalomaniac or carbon copy in sight.

We are still learning and trying out new things but now at 3 months in, it’s starting to feel like we will be able to do this sustainably for the foreseeable future.

Lots of people love the idea of the store and many have suggestions for what we can add or subtract to grow the idea even further.  We love the feedback, just remember it’s all a work in progress….


Invest in a Wasteless Future

A Wasteless Pantry is an investment in a better future, as anything of worth would be.

 

You exercise and eat well as an investment in your health. You might sign up for a mortgage as an investment in future financial security. In much the same way transitioning to a wasteless pantry or lifestyle is an investment in the future. You invest time and money getting organized and setting up with reusables but unlike exercise and healthy eating if you stop using your reusable for a couple of weeks you can pick up exactly where you left off once you get back into it – your health probably isn’t so forgiving!

 

In fashion there is this concept about cost per wear. If we applied this to your quality reusable the initial outlay might look like this:

 

Reusable bag (like an Onya Original Shopping Bag)

 

$12.50 initial costOnya-Original-Apple-Purple-Garden-150x150

Used once per week for the next 10 years = 2 cents per use + no waste

 

Vs

 

Supermarket ‘green bag’

 

$2 to $5 initial cost

Used once per week for the next 10 years = 2 cents per use + 3 bags being sent to landfill over that time (I’m being generous here as mine have never lasted more than a two years)

 

OR

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Produce Bags (like our cloth bags or Onya mesh ones)

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$3 initial cost each

Used once per week for the next 10 years (I’m being conservative here as one customer has been using theirs for 20 years) = less than 1 cent per use + no waste

 

Vs

 

Plastic bags

 

1 cent each initial cost (incorporated into the cost of your goods)

Used once each for one purchase per week over the next 10 years = 1 cent per use + 520 plastic bags being sent to landfill

 

OR

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Reusable drink bottle (like an H2Onya)

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$18.95 to $25.95 initial cost plus free water from a tap

Filled once per day for the next 5 years (I know they last longer but this is going to be ridiculous) = 7 to 10 cents per use + no waste

 

Vs

 

Bottled water (I’ll pick the cheapest brand at a supermarket for comparison)

 

70 cents initial cost

One bottle per day for the next 5 years = 70 cents per use ($182 over that time!) + 260 bottles being wasted

 

 

I think you can see where I’m going with this – reusables win every time!! This goes for hankies vs tissues, lunchboxes/wraps vs clingwrap, JuJu cups vs tampons, cloth nappies vs disposable nappies, fresh loose coffee & tea including the plunger vs coffee pods or instant or teabags. Every time reusable wins for the environment but also for your pocket!


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There is a lot of confusion as to the impact that these things make. Consider this:

Every water bottle used requires 3 litres of water to produce 1 litre of bottled water and it takes 3.4 megajoules of energy!! And that’s just to manufacture.

 

More energy is needed to fill the bottles with water at the factory, move it by truck, train, ship, or air freight to the user, cool it in grocery stores or home refrigerators, and recover, recycle, or throw away the empty bottles.

 

The Pacific Institute estimates that the total amount of energy embedded in our use of bottled water can be as high as the equivalent of filling a plastic bottle one quarter full with oil. http://pacinst.org/publication/bottled-water-and-energy-a-fact-sheet/

 

Once in landfill where a majority of bottles go, it takes up valuable space, is a source of toxic pollution for more than a lifetime and represents more lost resources in a world that has little left to spare. If it does manage to get recycled it can only be downcycled (that is to say that it will never be made into a water bottle again) and will eventually be added to landfill too.

 

With reusables you still have impacts in manufacture, transport, storage and initial sale too but you get to fill and enjoy almost endlessly. If your reusable does break the majority of it is fully recyclable – over and over again.

 

So go slowly but do introduce reusables into your lifestyle and we can help you get started.

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How to BYO your containers video

Some were lucky enough to get this run down in person at the store, however for those of you that didn’t make it or aren’t local this is our guide to BYO your containers to bulk food stores.

* An extra tip that wasn’t in the video: If you are taking home products where the contents isn’t obvious (like flours or similar looking spices) then ALWAYS grab a marker and label the jar straight away.  Helpful for the cashier but more importantly you and your household will know what is in the container at home!

Enjoy the video below and be sure to let us know if this seems doable or any other tips that you’ve tried that make shopping this way a breeze.


Clear the Clutter

Why would a Wasteless Pantry website have a blog post on decluttering? How unrelated could that be?

Not at all!

If you have so many things in your home that you can’t find what you need then this is a waste.  If you buy the same thing again because you didn’t know you already had one, then that is a waste.  And if you lose time or peace of mind everyday trying to control all the clutter that accumulates then you know what I think that means….

I love to chat about all things decluttering! I will post this in a series of bits and peices because if you let me I’ll go on and on about it all day!!  These are ideas that I have collected from too many sources to quote and have been tried and tested in my own home.

To get started:

First off start with the end in mind – do you want completely clear or just less than now?  If you want clear – remove everything from one tiny space, like a chair that collects clutter or one shelf or one draw, only put back what you LOVE.  If you are sure you don’t love it get rid of it – sell, donate, recycle or trash.  If you’re not sure then put it in a box in the garage or shed with a date (one or two months). If it doesn’t get rescued by the due date then it goes.
If you simply want less – same process but just one box at a time that leaves the house.

Guidelines:

  1. Only ever focus on one tiny space at a time until you get the feel good – ahhh – moment when you look at that space.
  2. Protect that space above all others.
  3. Don’t do too much too quick.
  4. Avoid looking through the box a second time before getting rid of it – you’re instincts are right and you don’t need to second guess yourself.

 

“Have nothing in your house that you do no know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”  – Wiliam Morris

But what do you do with items that you want to keep but don’t fit anywhere in the location where they belong because you haven’t decluttered that space yet?

You’re not going to like this answer but in reality I put the stuff in a box and shove it wherever I can in that room until there is space.  I know this sounds really bad but the idea is to not get side tracked and miss out on the feel good from the space you are tackling.  Yes it feels off to be cluttering up other areas but they were cluttered anyhow.  Sometimes you have got to get the motivation from that single focus to overcome the overwhelm and inertia.  Once I’ve sorted that one little space I can free up my energy to tackle the next.

Prioritise based on impact

I try to prioritise spaces by what will have the biggest impact for me – visual or functional.  Like in the kitchen the visual of a clear bench is awesome, but the functionality of being able to get a cup out without fighting 50 others spilling is also important.  But the cupboard with serving platters that get used maybe once a month might not be a priority until the other two have already been tackled.

Find duplicates

Put all like things together too – all your pens together or all your serving utensils, etc – you might find duplicates (or more) – ‘keep the best, get rid of the rest’. Seeing them together makes the decision easier sometimes.

Think outside your four walls

Also think about storage more liberally – maybe you can ‘store’ some of your gear at a friends or family members home where it will get used more often and then you can call upon it when you actually need it. For example, my brother has a fan we weren’t using much – if we have a family function where it would be handy we could just ask that he bring it along. It’s not necessarily about ownership, simply sharing things so they get used to their best advantage.  Just something to think about – not for everyone, I know.

Challenge yourself!

If you are serious about getting the clutter under control how about setting yourself a challenge to not buy anything except necessities (food/toilet paper) unless something else leaves the house first.  No new kitchen appliances until at least one is donated or moved on first…

Make life simpler and waste less, one pantry shelf at a time.

Are you inspired to tackle the clutter or have your own tips to share?  Leave your comments below or share on our Facebook page.

Come Join Our Team

Did you know that it is less than 9 weeks until we open!!!!

Now is the time for us to select and get to know our team so please watch the video by clicking the link below and then apply if you think you are the right fit for our store.

 

Wasteless Pantry recruiterThis video is about Wasteless Pantry recruiter

Posted by Manda Moo on Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Just to recap the points in the video:

  • We are looking for casual Sustainability Advocates/Retail Assistants for approximately 20 hours per week
  • You need to be invested in the Zero Waste and sustainability ideals
  • Local, have a sense of humour, friendly, caring, optimistic and able to help others change
  • Adaptable, trustworthy, physically fit and have high standards of personal hygiene
  • Work with us, not for us to effect real change

Send through your resume including sustainability and nutrition knowledge as well as a cover letter explaining why you want to work with us and what you believe will be the keys to the store’s success to info@wastelesspantry.com.au

We are looking forward to some great conversations on the 21st April 2015.

P.S.  Start date for employment is likely to be mid May 2015.

P.S.S. We are not expecting you to lift 25kg bags, just help move them around the store!


Our Guide to Sustainable Food Choices

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When did it become so hard to source and eat food without the guilt?

 

We worry about:

  • creating waste and landfill contributions
  • how far it has had to travel to our plate
  • how many preservatives and additives are in our food
  • allergens
  • animal cruelty and deforestation
  • whether it has been overly processed
  • just how much refined sugars and fats have been added
  • water use in production
  • how long and how it was stored before it was offered as ‘fresh’
  • food safety, especially given the latest berry health scare
  • whether it is nutritious at all any more
  • whether the kids or husband or wife will eat it
  • if it is supporting local farmers
  • if there are GMOs in it
  • if it is organic and if so certified organic
  • what the best deal for your money is
  • whether it was fairly purchased by the middle guy
  • and on and on it goes….

 

When did sourcing and eating our food suck all the flavour out of life?

 

A large part of why we are offering you this store is so that these complex and complicated decisions about your next meal can be made just a bit simpler.

 

Wasteless Pantry is about making it easy to shop and eat responsibly because sustainable is responsible.

 

We are all about “Progress not Perfection”, a term that we have seen a lot lately including on Conversations with My Sisters blog.  This means that we are trying our best and always looking to improve what we are doing so one step at a time.  When we open the store we will have sourced the best we can at that point. We will make mistakes, we will experiment and get it wrong, but we will continue to try to get it just a little better next time. And that is all we ask of you too.

 

So how do we decide what are our best food choices? Below is the Wasteless Pantry Guide to Sustainable Food Choices….

 

  1. Less packaging is our top priority.

At the Less is More Festival recently; the Eco Faeries sang a very catchy tune that included the line:

“There is no excuse for single use”

Whilst everyone there probably went to bed still singing this one line, it was a simple reminder of the priority we are working toward.

 

If you think about it, all the effort and resources that went into every single use product or package you buy and then throw away is the equivalent to getting a beautiful handmade quilt from someone dear and using it as a disposable napkin. Only in 10 years time at least the quilt would have composted back into the earth!

 

  • So this is our first decision making question – how can we minimize the waste?

 

  1. Local is always better.

Producing, sourcing and eating locally grown food is almost always a more sustainable option than sourcing further afield.

 

Grown to be eaten sooner, the food can ripen more naturally. It is grown to be transported a shorter distance so it doesn’t need to be as robust, and can be more flavorsome instead.   Local seasonal food is picked at its best and most nutritious so is more likely to be better for you.

 

And best of all, local food doesn’t need to travel huge distances to get to your plate. You might even get to know who grew it and how. Anyone involved in the frozen berry health scare can attest to how important that is. Brook ‘Sparkles’ Murphy at the Less is More Festival calculated that her green super food smoothie was produced with a massive amount of greenhouse gases due to where and how the ingredients were produced and sourced.

 

  • So this is our second decision making question – how local can we get this product?

 

  1. Organic where we can.

The effort that goes into growing the wonderful food we eat makes such an impact on our environment. Organically grown food is more sustainable than conventionally grown goods as there is fewer chemicals put into the environment and these farmers understand the importance of putting nutrients back into the soil.

 

There are concerns about the chemicals used getting into our bodies too. Of course the quality of the soil greatly impacts on the flavor and nutritional density of the food grown as well.

 

The thing is though, that a lot of organically grown foods are packaged wastefully to stop them being contaminated by conventional food. Doesn’t this strike you as interesting that the farmer would go to all that effort to care for the earth and avoid the use of chemicals, to then have the food packaged in something made of chemicals that threatens the earth?

 

  • So our third decision making question is – can we source it as close to organically as possible?

 

Having made these three decisions of sourcing the least packaged, most local and closest to organic product we can get there is one final question that we raise throughout the entire decision making process:

 

  • Is the food ethically produced?

 

Every effort is made to source options produced without animal cruelty such as avoiding uncertified palm oil. We also aim to offer Fair Trade products and those that support a fair price for farmers locally. We are also keen to support Rainforest Alliance initiatives.  Rainforest Alliance has a broad social and ecological mandate that spans many sectors including agriculture. For example, Coffee is one of the agricultural crops targeted by Rainforest Alliance programs. The coffee certification program is aimed at ensuring that coffee workers are paid fairly, treated with respect and that the crop they tend does not contribute to soil erosion, water contamination and forest destruction: the Rainforest Alliance seal means that both social and environmental values are respected.

 

There are so many other considerations that just haven’t made it onto our radar.

Mostly because once you follow these guiding questions your choice of what to eat next is reduced in such a beautiful way. It is not about which brand being advertised or which fad super food or diet to follow, or even about what that celebrity chef showed you on TV last night. It becomes about cooking seasonal goods that taste great and don’t come with a side of eco-guilt.

 

It becomes about getting the rubbish out of our kitchens and off our plates.

 

Like I said at the beginning this is a journey and we are just making one decision better each time.  Minimal waste, local, organic and ethical.
Are you coming with us? Let us know below or on our Facebook page.

Wasteless Ways: The Beautiful Pantry

“When you can find beauty in the mundane, that is where happiness lies.”

There may be more to life than a wasteless pantry.  There may be more beautiful things than a pantry which contains no advertising and instead only produce that will sustain and comfort you.  There may even be more satisfying things to do than to remove the rubbish from your pantry and replace it with organised shelves filled with goodness. But then I guess that depends on your perspective.

Whichever way you lean it is easy to see how a wasteless pantry aids in creating the life you want.

Here are just a few reasons:

  1. An organised pantry means that you save time, money and food by not buying doubles that then expire before you use them.
  2. Sealed containers minimise bug infestations and food going stale.
  3. It is easier to track what you need when you can see the contents of your staple containers decreasing.
  4. As you can easily find food in your pantry, it is easier to plan meals from what you already have.
  5. When you look at your organised pantry you are more likely to be inspired to cook from scratch all the goodies you have already on hand, instead of giving up and ordering takeout.
  6. You are more likely to be able to avoid preservatives, have fresher staples on hand and will be able to control the content of the food you eat.  Less sugar, less processed food, less allergy risk, less unknown entities in your food.
  7. Once you have transitioned to containers you will find it much easier to keep your pantry clean, tidy and in good working order.
  8. It will be easier for others to help you in the kitchen!!!
  9. Wasteless pantry items take up less space and have the potential to become full of a greater variety of food.

There are far more reasons than that but it gives you a starting point.

A wasteless pantry is more than being about waste.

It is about living a sustainable, simpler and easier existence; filling your life only with those good things you choose.

Head over to the Facebook page and let us know your reason for wanting a wasteless pantry, or share a picture to inspire others!

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Our vision

We’ve been dreaming of this store for so long now and thought you might like to join us…

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It starts with the clean and homely style of the signage and store layout.

As you walk through the front doors you will see smiling and enthusiastic staff ready to say hello to you by name and ask about your day. Inside the door you will put your reusable bags and jars on the bench space provided, settle children into the play area and then peruse the goods on offer. You will weigh the containers you’ve brought with you, refill your staples and ask for samples of new product lines.

At the checkout your name will be your loyalty card and you will probably talk about the lastest Facebook post or upcoming event that is of interest to you. Our staff will be clean, wearing their branded apron and always helpful. Today you ask for a gift voucher or a starter pack to give to a friend you think will love coming in too. You noticed that one of your favourite luxury lines is going to be rotated and our staff let you know that we will keep you informed of its return.

You comment that the store is always presented well, our staff are like friends and the quality and pricing of our products makes it enjoyable to shop for the sustainable goods you love having access to locally.

 

I wish we were open already!!

 

How about you?  Let us know what you think on the Facebook page or comment below.