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food waste hacks: how to make a meal from kitchen scraps

photo by Frank Zhang 

Author: Sarah Brown 

Think those sad looking veggies at the bottom of the fridge need to be composted? Think again! bare market blogger Sarah challenges you to rethink your fridge scraps and teaches you how to create a meal out of (seemingly) nothing. Go on, give it a try! 

I definitely blame my dad for my hatred of food waste. Growing up he would reprimand us for throwing away any little scrap of food. Once, he was helping me move house and fished half a browning cauliflower from our kitchen bin, claiming it was “perfectly edible!” I was mortified.

But now, as tends to happen, I have become my father (at least when it comes to food waste).

Yesterday I yelled at my boyfriend for putting a bruised apple in the compost. His excuse? It was floury. That shit doesn’t fly with a food waste warrior. You better believe that apple got rescued and added to my overnight oats. I recently saved half a browning avocado another roommate had deemed past its prime. Do these confessions make me sound a bit nuts? Yes. Did I eat and enjoy the avocado and the apple? Also, yes.

Food waste is an environmental issue of epidemic proportions. Get this: one-third of the food grown annually for human consumption is never eaten . What. The. Heck. If you're going to buy and then not eat food, you might as well cut out the middle man by opening your wallet and throwing away a bunch of cash. We need to unlearn some of the damaging information supermarkets have fed us about best before-dates and perfect produce

 While composting is a great solution to managing organic food waste at the municipal level, we can do better. Why not get creative in the kitchen and rescue foodstuffs that you might ordinarily cast aside.

Below is a recipe for a delicious meal that uses random scraps from your fridge and cupboard that you might ordinarily toss.

veggie scrap okonomiyaki

photo by Sarah Brown

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savory pancake, usually made with cabbage and a variety of other ingredients. This recipe utilizes whatever veggies you might have in your veggie crisper. Get creative!

You will need:

1 cup of shredded veggies (You can use grated carrot, potato or zucchini, shredded cabbage or kale)

3 spring onions (Don’t have spring onions? Use chopped garlic, or that half an onion that’s been sitting in the back of your fridge)

2 eggs (You can use a chia egg or flax egg for a vegan version)

1/3 cup flour (Any flour you have on hand works here. Plain flour, self-raising, buckwheat etc. Use up that last little bit you have in the cupboard 

Herbs (Any herbs you have that need to be used up. Coriander works especially well)

Salt and pepper

Cooking oil (Sesame oil works especially well here if you have it)


Meat, seafood, tofu (If you have any of this lying around, chop it up and add it in!)

photo by Sarah Brown


Get yourself a large mixing bowl and throw in all of your grated/chopped veggies, herbs, onion, etc. 

Break the eggs into another bowl and whisk (or prepare your chia/flax egg for a vegan version).

 Add the eggs to the veggie crap mixture and mix till well combined.

Add the flour, salt and pepper to the mixture and again mix till combined. It should look like a kind of chunky pancake/fritter mix.

Heat up the oil in a pan and add about two tablespoons of the mixture, flattening out into a pancake shape.

Cook for 4-5 minutes on one side before flipping, it should be golden brown and crispy on the bottom. Cook for another 2 mins on the other side.

Once you’ve gone through the whole bowl of mixture, your okonomiyaki are done!

You can get creative with how you serve these – traditionally they are served with mayo but you can use any sauces you like. Personally, I love them with hummus and hot sauce.  

be a food waste warrior 

This is just one example of how to pull a meal together from some sad looking vegetables and kitchen bits but truly, there are so many ways to incorporate food scraps into your cooking and meals. Why not make chocolate mousse from chickpea water? Or pesto from carrot tops? Or stock from your veggie peels? 

There are myriad resources for learning more about managing food waste and deconstructing the rhetoric around food freshness and ‘best before’ dates. Sarah Wilson is an Australian author who is passionate about food waste. She has just released a zero-waste cookbook and has a great resource kit on her blog for fighting food waste. She even has a recipe for a cake made with banana peels!

In the end, it's all about sparing a thought for that sad looking bunch of spinach in the fridge and considering what kind of deliciousness it could become before consigning it to the compost bin.


1 comment

  • Good for you! I try to use all my scraps to make veh broth that I freeze, especially if they look a bit grotty…still good vitamin wise but not so pleasing to the eye…..

    viola frazier

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