Category Archives: Simple

50 ways to (seriously) reduce your food waste

50 ways to (seriously) reduce your food waste - Episode 169 of The Slow Home Podcast

I’m going to say this straight up: today’s episode is BIG. It’s packed full of practical tips and it moves prettttty fast. But I also think it’s going to prove to be super valuable. And I don’t just mean valuable in terms of the quality of the info we share, but also quite literally – in terms of the money you’ll save and the positive impact you’ll have on the environment. In short, this is an epic poggie.

So what exactly do we talk about in this epic, valuable pogpast? Food waste.

Ben’s got some astonishing stats to share in this episode, but needless to say, the level of food waste in Australia alone is eye-wateringly high. And given what we know about food security in the developing world, and even many communities in our own backyard, it’s truly devastating to think about. And while some of this waste is a result of systems put in place by massive supermarket chains both here and globally, a lot of it is not. Much of the food we waste in Australia is wasted in our own homes, and it’s this waste that we want to focus on in this big ol’ pogpast.

In part today’s episode is a pretty natural continuation of the overall theme of slow living – quality over quantity, use only what we need, local, intentional, environmentally conscious – but it’s also been spurred by the recent ABC series, War On Waste. If you haven’t had a chance to watch it yet I’ve included a link to it at the bottom of this page, along with a heap of other helpful resources. It makes me happy to see the ideas of sustainability and mindful living start to make their way in to the mainstream and I hope this is a sign of big changes to come. (God knows we need it.)

Despite my occasional dip in to big-picture despair, however, this episode is the antidote to the what-can-I-do’s. It’s quite literally packed full of things we can do today. OK, probably not all of them today, but I can guarantee you there is at least one idea we cover in this episode that you can try today. No purchase of backyard chickens necessary.

We start the show with a list of our own tips, tricks, hacks and changes, and follow that with a bomb-awesome collection of your tips, gleaned from a Facebook post only a couple of days ago. You guys are clever and committed and your ideas make me so so happy.

So BEHOLD! Our monster list of tips to help you minimise food waste:

Planning and Organisation:

  • Meal plan regularly and be realistic with that plan. If you know you’re exhausted by Thursday night, then don’t plan and buy the ingredients for a super-involved meal. Chances are it will go to waste. Similarly, if you’ve got kids and you wish they’d eat broccoli but you know they gag on it it, then buy a different veg instead.
  • Meal prep once a week (or at a regular time that works for you). We spend an hour or two most weekends doing things like cutting veggies for lunch boxes and dinner sides, maybe cooking a few big trays of roast veg or a pasta sauce and the difference it makes during the week is amazing. Not only do we have the makings of a couple of dinner meals, but we also have at least a few days worth of lunch sorted too. Think things like: felafel, fish cakes, meatballs, pasta sauce, stews, soups, curries, salads in a jar for work lunches, hommus, veggie sticks…
  • Go shopping with a list and don’t deviate, to avoid the just-in-cases or the impulse buys
  • Be sure to learn your quantities and buy only what you need.
  • Check your pantry and fridge before you go shopping or write your meal plan
  • Use what’s in your pantry and fridge before shopping or plan next week’s meals around what’s already in there.
  • Make a habit to clean out the fridge before you do the groceries. Doing this gives a good indication of what you are and aren’t actually eating, and allows you to use what’s already there in the meal you go shopping for. It also stops food from mouldering away at the bottom of the fridge for weeks on end, as the leftovers get used up or composted.
  • Embrace leftover meals! We have one, sometimes two nights a week where we plan on eating leftovers. This, plus the fact we eat leftovers for lunch quite often means we don’t usually have leftovers in the fridge by week’s end.
  • Scratch it nights are bomb. It’s basically a meal where we use what we’ve got or have something simple from the pantry. It sometimes looks like an omelette or veg on toast, other times it’s French toast or pancakes.
  • Be less fussy with the appearance of food. A bendy carrot is fine to cook. Cut out soft spots. Mould is obviously to be avoided but don’t be so hasty to toss the entire lot if one apple goes bad.
  • Know the difference between Best Before and Used By dates, and (in some instances at least) go on smell rather than date. Yoghurt, dips, sour cream etc are good examples of this. Seafood is probably not.
  • Treat the “Use within 5 days” warning with scepticism. Be curious before assuming food has spoiled and defer to the common sense taste test.
  • Keep perishable food that won’t last long at the front of the fridge to ensure you don’t waste it.

Good Food Storage Habits

  • Put dry goods in containers once they’ve been opened so they don’t go stale, get weevils or spoil. (Crackers, flours, pasta, cereal etc)
  • Lots of veg can be stored in containers in the fridge to avoid becoming dehydrated and lacklustre. Celery, carrots, cucumber sticks, carrot sticks, zucchini, beans, snow peas, herbs – simply trim ends and put in glass jars in the fridge with a little bit of water in the bottom. This keeps them fresh all week.
  • To keep kale, spinach, lettuce and other greens fresh for as long as possible – rinse well and trim as soon as you get home from the shops or market and wrap a stack of the leaves in a damp clean teatowel, storing in the fridge. This keeps them fresh and green for much longer than leaving them in the crisper.
  • Meat – only keep out what you’re cooking in the next day or two. Separate rest of the meat into meal-size portions (or better yet, take containers to the butcher and ask them to separate for you) and pop in freezer, labelling if you need to. (We don’t.)
  • Glass jars are great for storing excess veggies, fruit, herbs, sauces, etc.
  • Sturdy glass containers like Pyrex are great for storing excess meals, meat, bones, offcuts for stock and soups, etc.

In the Freezer:

  • Broccoli and cauliflower stems can be fried up or rinsed and blitzed in a blender. Freeze the blitzed stems on a tray and transfer to jar. This can be added to sauces, pies, soups etc. It has the benefit of adding nutrients to your meals, and is undetectable to fusspots/kids.
  • Don’t compost your squishy, over-ripe bananas. Peel, slice and freeze on a tray, then transfer the rounds to a container. These are perfect for for banana bread, smoothies, protein pancakes etc
  • Freeze your parmesan rinds and add to soups.
  • Keep all your veggie offcuts, peels, skins and trimmings in a container in the freezer. When there’s a good amount, put it all in a big saucepan, cover with water, and cook for a few hours. It makes a delicious rich (free!) veggie stock that can then be frozen and used as needed.
  • Do the same with your leftover meat bones, roast chicken carcasses or seafood.
  • Try a bulk baking session once or twice a month. I make things like chocolate cake, date loaf, chocolate slice, bliss balls and apple muffins, freezing them in containers until needed.

Random Food Waste Tips:

  • Think about food as money. When you have to toss out your waste, picture yourself tossing cash in to the bin. It’s a great motivator to waste less food!
  • Chickens are great for reducing meal scraps to virtually zero. So are dogs!
  • Composting and worm farms are excellent for those scraps chickens can’t or shouldn’t eat, as well as scraps like egg shells and coffee grinds.
  • Composting/worm farm/chickens are great but don’t let them become your easy out. Try to only give them genuine scraps and veg offcuts, and instead focus on maximising your use of all the good stuff.

Now over to the collective wisdom of you, our wonderful listeners!

There were, of course, some common ones that many of you contributed, including:

  • Meal planning.
  • Composting (traditional pile, compost bins, enclosed tumbler set up OR Bokashi bin, which can be used to compost dairy and meat).
  • Backyard chickens and other pets.
  • Making your own freezer scrap stocks (both veggie and meat versions).
  • Be sure to eat leftovers for lunch/dinner.

Then there’s these super practical genius ideas too. Many of which I’ll be implementing over the coming weeks!

  • Freeze apple slices left over from the kids’ lunch boxes and when there’s enough, use them to make apple sauce. Freeze leftover cheese (you know the slightly hardened, maybe slightly sweaty pieces left over from a party) and use it for homemade mac and cheese. (Morgan)
  • Freeze foods that are commonly used but rarely all used in one recipe. Chopped onions, celery, small portions of lemon/lime juice, etc. (Candace)
  • Keep the top shelf of the fridge for food that needs to be eaten in the next few days. When going through the fridge, move things up to the top shelf as needed. (Em)
  • Use a meal planning framework. For example: Meat free Monday, Taco Tuesday, Pasta Wednesday, Soup/Slow Cooker Thursday, Freezer Food Friday, Kids Choice Saturday and a big, more involved family meal on Sunday (which is then used for leftovers during the week). (Briana)
  • Learn to recalibrate quantities of ingredients as your household needs change. And then challenge yourself to the occasional month of cooking from food that’s already in your freezer or pantry. This will likely mean lots of soups!  (Jennifer)
  • Combine backyard chickens (who get the fresh scraps) with a soldier fly larvae farm (that gets the rest of the scraps or anything not suitable for chooks). In a big old life cycle of food recycling, the larvae are then fed to the chooks. (Wallace Bear) 
  • Figure out how much meat your household eats in one meal (this family of four eats about half a pound of meat per meal, which is approximately quarter of a kilo) and then freezes meat in those portions. Pull out the meat as needed a day ahead and defrost in fridge. (Jessica)
  • Learn to love casserole dump bags! When you arrive home with your casserole ingredients, prep all meat and veggies straight away and put everything together in a large zip lock bag, freezing it until needed. Then when it’s time to pop the casserole ingredients in the slow cooker, it all goes in together. (Wendy) 
  • When meal planning don’t forget to account for all three meals a day and two snacks as well. This can help stretch her shopping out, saving money and food waste (Abby)
  • Get an enclosed composter, which means you can put soup bones and other traditionally ‘uncompostable’ materials in there. (Amanda)
  • Make a fried rice with all the little bits of veg left in the fridge at the end of the week. (Kim)
  • Move to Florida in summer! It’s so hot that there isn’t much cooking to be done (except the occasional crock pot meal) and as a result, eat mostly fresh veggies and fruit. (Deb)
  • Try getting a weekly seasonal fruit and veg box delivered. Plan your week’s meals around what’s in season once the box arrives. (Carly)
  • When meal planning, go all in. Figure out how many apples, oranges etc you eat in a week and buy only those amounts. Invest in a thermos for leftovers for school or work. (Kel)
  • Cook less food than you think you’ll need. If people are hungry there is always snacks like fruit and cheese. (Colleen)
  • Write a list and keep it on the fridge, to act as a reminder of what needs to be cooked or eaten before it goes off, then use that list to inspire meal planning and online food shopping. (Mandy)
  • Delay food shopping for a few extra days and get creative! (Sam
  • Worm farming is great for those people who don’t have the space or inclination for traditional composting. (Amy)
  • Avoid stockpiling randomly. Instead try having a 72 hour kit of ingredients and keep very little else on hand. (Danielle)
  • Make delicious bubble and squeak with leftovers! (Lisa)
  • Focus on only buying fresh fruit and veg, so all the leftovers can be composted. (Dallas)
  • Buy only what you know you’ll eat, not what you think you SHOULD eat and not what you wish
  • Make Friday night dinner an “allette”. ie An “all goes in the omelette”. (Mamta)
  • Make end of week stews and soups, learn to grow your own, learn to dehydrate foods. (Angel)
  • Keep leftover cooked veggies in a container in the freezer and make felafel out of it. (Teach me your ways!) (Margaret)

PHEW! I told you there was a lot of wisdom in this episode! If you’ve got a cracker of a tip we haven’t included please leave a comment below and we’ll pull them all together and update the master list.

In the meantime though, let us know what one change you’re going to make this week to reduce food waste, and be sure to share it on social media too. (You can use #slowhomepod everywhere there are good hashtags).

Enjoy!

This week’s poggie is sponsored by our friends at ettitude – makers of ethical, organic bamboo bed linen (and now pyjamas!). Head over to http://www.ettitude.com.au/slowhome and use the code “sleepbetter” to get 10% off your first order.

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Head over to iTunes to subscribe to the show and play the episode.

Or you can listen to the show directly, simply by hitting the Play button above. Enjoy!

——

Things to Check Out After Today’s Episode:

Keep Listening:

Support the show:

You may have heard that we recently hit 2.3 million (!!) downloads of The Slow Home Podcast! Not only does that fact blow my mind, it’s also thanks to your lovely self and the community of people who listen to the show every week, send in your questions and offer your feedback. I’m so grateful you’re here and part of this, and for anyone who has supported the show in any way over the past year – thank you so much.

If you do love the show and would like to show your support by becoming a patron, head over here to make a small monthly donation (as little as $1 a month) and know that any amount makes a huge difference to us being able to cover costs.

Most importantly, thanks for being here!

Your Why: Values

Your Why: Values

Last week Ben and I both went fairly deep in to the idea of legacy. I spoke about my eulogy and Ben spoke about the things that drive him in a big picture, high level way. We spoke about the kind of life we want to live in order for those legacies to come to fruition, and the jarring realisation that we often miss the mark.

Previously I’ve always left any discussion of my Why here – at the eulogy level. And while it’s so important to have that 10,000-foot view of the life we’re creating, it doesn’t really allow for much guidance in the granular, everyday decisions we’re faced with. How can something as grand and life-spanning as a eulogy help us to decide how to spend a weekend? Or whether to share a photo on social media?

There was always a certain level of specificity missing, and it wasn’t until we drilled down even further than the eulogy level and discovered the notion of values that it became clear. In today’s episode we look at values – what they are, what ours are, and how we use them in addition to our Why to determine our choices and actions on the day to day level.

According to the dictionary, values are:

“Principles or standards of behaviour,” and, “One’s judgement of what is important in life.”

As a definition in this context, I think the combination of these two really nails it. Not only do we need to know what we’re OK with in terms of our own behaviour, but also what is important to us in life. And neither of these things will become clear without doing some significant head-work (like that of the past two weeks) and digging in to gain some more clarity into what that actually looks like in daily life.

Today I pick apart my eulogy from last week and extract three key values on which I can essentially make any decision, and Ben does the same with his. It takes us from a nebulous idea of eulogy to one of values and it’s been so incredibly valuable to us as we navigate a tricky time.

My three core values are:

  • compassion
  • adventure
  • responsibility

And in this poggie I look at how those three values really do apply to everything I hold dear, and next week we look at how I use them as a framework on which to base decisions and take action.

This week’s task revolves around the work you may have already done as we’ve worked through this idea of Why. Go back to your first mind map, or even your legacy exercise from last week and simply start highlighting words that represent a value of yours. You’re looking for the attributes or principles rather than the specific actions. Then sit with these words for a while and let yourself consider the values they represent:

  • Are they yours?
  • Do they ring true?
  • Do they feel right in your gut even if you’re not currently living with them at the centre?

Write them down on a piece of paper and keep it somewhere close. Then, just let it roll around in your head and your heart for a while. You’re getting there!

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Head over to iTunes to subscribe to the show and play the episode.


Or you can listen to the show directly, simply by hitting the Play button above. Enjoy!

——

Things to Check Out After Today’s Episode:

Keep Listening:

Support the Show:

You may have heard that we recently hit 2 million (!!) downloads of The Slow Home Podcast! Not only does that fact blow my mind, it’s also thanks to your lovely self and the community of people who listen to the show every week, send in your questions and offer your feedback. I’m so grateful you’re here and part of this, and for anyone who has supported the show in any way over the past year – thank you so much.

If you do love the show and would like to show your support by becoming a patron, head over here to make a small monthly donation (as little as $1 a month) and know that any amount makes a huge difference to us being able to cover costs.

Most importantly, thanks for being here!

Creating a Slow Home with Amelia Lee

Creating a Slow Home with Amelia Lee - Episode 141 of The Slow Home Podcast

Given the name of this podcast it’s perhaps unsurprising that Ben and I often talk about the idea of creating a slow home – that is, a home that works for you, dependant on your lifestyle, circumstance and priorities. So often we talk about this in really broad terms though, not necessarily getting in to the nitty-gritty practicalities of what a slow home actually looks like.

So this week we decided to go deep in to the question of home, and specifically, what does the ‘home’ part of a slow home really look like? How does the idea of slow impact the spaces in which we spend so much of our down-time? How can we adopt those ideas into the building we live in now, or the building we may live in in the future?

It was a complete no-brainer for me to speak with Amelia Lee about this topic, as Amelia is someone who walks the slow home walk. She’s an architect based in the beautiful Byron Bay hinterland, who helps people create homes that support the life they want to live, rather than create houses that require a life-support in order to exist, and what’s more, she’s been on her own journey towards intentional living for the past few years and understands better than most the impact it can have on the spaces we live in.

Today we talk about the philosophy of Slow Home design and why mindfulness and intention should be the cornerstones of the home we create. We also talk about Amelia’s personal journey towards intentional living and how a trip to Uganda proved the pivotal point for her in recognising the excess in her own life and society in general, as well as what that meant for her fast-growing architecture firm.

The idea of a Slow Home – one that is simple to live in and light on the environment – is something Amelia and I discuss in depth, including ways you can incorporate the idea of a slow home in to both your current house, or any future home.

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Head over to iTunes to subscribe to the show and play the episode.


Or you can listen to the show directly, simply by hitting the Play button above. Enjoy!

——

Check out after listening:

Keep Listening:

Support the Show:

You may have heard that we recently hit 1.8 million downloads of The Slow Home Podcast! Not only does that fact blow my mind, it’s also thanks to your lovely self and the community of people who listen to the show every week, send in your questions and offer your feedback. I’m so grateful you’re here and part of this, and for anyone who has supported the show in any way over the past year – thank you so much.

If you do love the show and would like to show your support by becoming a patron, head over here to make a small monthly donation (as little as $1 a month) and know that any amount makes a huge difference to us being able to cover costs.

Most importantly, thanks for being here!

Unsubscribe from the rat race with Paul Jarvis – The Slow Home Summer Series

Unsubscribe from the rat race with Paul Jarvis - The Slow Home Summer Series

WELCOME TO THE SLOW HOME SUMMER SERIES! BEN AND I ARE TAKING A BREAK OVER JANUARY, SO WE’RE WE REVISITING SOME OF THE BEST EPISODES OF 2016.

I’ve been reading Paul Jarvis’ Sunday Dispatches and listening to his Invisible Office Hours podcast for a long time. So long, in fact, I felt like I knew him before I’d ever spoken a word in conversation! So it was beyond a delight to sit and chat with him, and even more delightful to realise he is exactly the same in conversation as in his writing.

We spend quite a bit of time talking about the importance of being our true self online, and the BIG difference between that and sharing things we haven’t actually processed yet. Paul has written a lot about comparison and the myth that everyone else is living more interesting, photogenic lives that us, so we dive in to that too. I’ve linked to a fantastic post of his below that I would highly recommend you read if you find yourself playing the comparison game too often.

(Actually, I’ve linked to a handful of my favourite articles from Paul. Do yourself a kindness and take a read over the weekend.)

Paul also talks about his lack of routine, why busy-ness is a crutch we lean on to avoid feeling our feelings, and what he’s watching on TV these days.

Enjoy!

——

Head over to iTunes to subscribe to the show and play the episode.

Or you can listen to the show directly, simply by hitting the Play button above. Enjoy!

——

Things to Check Out After Today’s Episode:

Keep Listening:

Support the Show:

If you love the show and would like to show your support by becoming a patron, head over here to make a small monthly donation (as little as $1 a month) and know that any amount makes a huge difference to us being able to cover costs.

If you love the show and want to support it by continuing to subscribe, listen, share with friends/family or leave a review on iTunes, that’s awesome too!

Most important of all, thanks for being here!

Here’s to a simple year

A Simple Year

While I’m still technically offline until next week, I wanted to pop in briefly to wish you a Happy New Year!

I’m not really one for resolutions but I always find this time of year really exciting. Possibilities are refreshed and hopes are new and there’s just something wonderful about the potential fizzing just below the surface, don’t you think?

More often than not though, this feeling of excitement and possibility disappears before January is behind us. We find ourselves stuck in old habits. Revisiting old issues. Battling the same old piles of clutter and mess, and feeling the same old sense of overwhelm as we realise we don’t know where to begin.

That was me for years, until I discovered the delight of living with less. Less stuff, less stress, less pressure, less comparison, less shopping, less debt, less clutter.

I’ve spent the last five years learning that having less stuff actually gives you a lot.

It gives you the opportunity to focus more on the people and important experiences in your life.

It gives you more time, more energy, more care and more compassion.

It means you can focus on experiences over things. Travel instead of trend-hopping. Memories instead of souvenirs.

Over the past five years as I’ve slowly learned to pare back, find what’s important and live (mostly) according to those priorities, life has become easier. Simpler. Sweeter.

  • We have afternoon naps on the weekend
  • Cleaning up takes minutes, not hours or days
  • I spend less time dusting and organising
  • There is more time together on the weekends
  • We entertain more
  • Our horizons are expanding and we’re travelling more as a family
  • I worry less
  • I compare our life with that of others far less
  • The overall feeling of life is that of contentment
  • In other words, life is good.

Not to say that living a simpler life makes things perfect. It doesn’t.

Our kids fight. We get things wrong – alot. We make poor spending choices. We get impatient. There is still the annual influx of gifts at Christmas (although this is much less than it used to be).

Simplifying life just makes it easier to deal with this. And to me, that is the single biggest benefit of living a simpler life – over time it just makes living life easier. The daily tasks, the constant stresses, the annual pressures – these things become easier to deal with when there is less stuff cluttering up your home and your head.

The difficulty, I would say, is in getting to that point. How do you actually create that simpler life, when right now everything feels so complicated? When you feel so overwhelmed? When you don’t even know where to begin?

A Simple Year.

There are literally thousands of places to find simple living information and inspiration, both online and off. This blog and many others similar to it have hundreds of suggestions on how to start, where to begin, how to declutter and what to do once you’ve finished. And they’re all great sources of information. In fact, that’s how I came to discover simple living and finally get started on my own journey.

But if you’re looking to make 2016 the year you create a simpler life, you might be interested in joining A Simple Year.

This is the third year I’ve been lucky enough to be part of this course and I couldn’t be prouder of what we’re achieving.

Rather than having to work through the process of simplifying by yourself, A Simple Year is an interactive online course created by some of the best known writers in the simplicity movement (and me). Leo Babauta, Courtney Carver, Cait Flanders, Colin Wright and Tammy Strobel (among others) have come together to create something amazing. Each month you focus on a new area of simplicity by working with one of the simple living advocates mentioned above.

  • January – Clutter
  • February – Busyness
  • March – Travel
  • April – Cooking
  • May – Digital
  • June – Work
  • July – Money
  • August – Self-care
  • September – Mindfulness
  • October – Eating
  • November – Relationships
  • December – Gratitude

If you’re looking to make 2016 the year you simplify your life, I can tell you that our 2014 and 2015 members have had incredible success and this year is going to be just as transformative.

There are already hundreds of people signed up to take part, and registrations close at the end of January. Check out simpleyear.co for a full outline of each month’s module and to register.

In the meantime, we’ll be back to regular podcasting (and maybe the occasional blog post!) real soon.

Happy New Year! xx