April: Before the trash bin

Dear reader, April is here and spring is coming, bringing with itself an abundance of greenery and fresh new seasonal produce. This month I would like to dive into ways to prevent food ending up in the trashbin and thus increase the amount of tasty foods ending up in our bellies!

1. First things first, organization is key. Keeping track of what is in your fridge and pantry as well as using what you have before buying something new really are the foundation of preventing food waste

My advice to shop more consciously would be to use a shopping list and a meal plan leaving some space for a leftover meal here and there. Really try to think ahead about your week and what you really need to buy taking into consideration what you still have at home

Here you can find an example of a meal planner I designed for you, feel free to download it or take inspiration from it! 

Just like for all the visuals and recipes in this newsletter, you can click on the picture to enlarge it! 

2. Making leftovers more exciting

Here is the fun part! Trying out new recipes and getting creative using only what you have at home. Whether it is using up your rice leftovers by turning them into a salad, brightening up two day old roasted veggies by mixing them into savory waffles or making a spread out of your lentil leftover, the possibilities are endless. There are even some websites and apps that help you find recipes that match the type of leftovers you have at home

This is my favorite part and with time I have been stocking up on recipes that are versatile and include ingredients that can always be found in my pantry

I thought I would share with you one of my recent favorites that is perfect for using a mix of various small vegetable leftovers you might have in your fridge and that is a Korean inspired vegetable pancake. 

3. Learning how to store and preserve fresh produce can help save a lot when you have too big quantities. Here many options are available and I would like to recommend these three.

First, is pickling

It is one of the most well known preserving ways, everybody has at least once bought a jar of pickles and it turns out you can easily do it a home and pickle a wide variety of things other than the classic cucumbers. 

Pickling is a preservation process that derives from fermentation. Just like in lacto-fermentation, the concept is simple, creating an acidic environment in which pathogens can not develop. To do so, the vegetables are immersed in a vinegary solution.

In addition to extending the shelf life of your product, you also get a whole different range of flavors.

To help you get started I thought I would share with you a simple recipe I found online, it is super easy and delicious

Second, is lacto-fermentation

Fermentation is a very energy efficient preservation method, that is also one of the safest. Just like pickling it relies on creating an acidic environment in which a wide range of bacteria and yeasts compete, making it extremely hard for pathogens to develop and take over. The only difference here is that we do not use any vinegar. Instead, we rely on the lactic acid produced by the fermentation of the vegetables in salty water. 

Besides requiring very limited energy and being super safe, fermentation also offers health benefits given it's probiotic content and the fact that it preserves the produce's nutrients

Here you will find a basic recipe but if you're curious about fermentation in general you can have a look at this website that was created in a youth exchange two of our organizations partnered in last year on the topic. 


Third, is learning more about the different environments our produce thrives in.

Often times our vegetables go bad, because of various reasons, whether we forget them at the back of the fridge, bought more than we can eat or simply don't store them properly

A great way to avoid waste is to understand the needs of our products. Here is a small recap made by a french organization called the LowTechLab. 

They categorize various fruits, vegetables and herbs depending on the type of storage they last longer in whether it needs light, cold, humidity or can be stored at room temperature, it is all there. 

Some fruits and veggies also produce a chemical component called ethylene and some are very sensitive to it. It is for example not recommended to store eggplants with peaches given that the first is sensitive to ethylene and the later produces it. The ethylene produced by the peaches will fasten the rotting process of the eggplant. 


A more detailed table can be found on the LowTechLab's website as well as a tutorial on how to build this storage system with repurposed materials (only available in french so far).

4. Make sure you understand the labels before throwing anything away

The two most widely used labels in Europe are "best before" and "use by". 

We have all seen them but what do these labels really stand for? 

The "Best before" label refers to the quality of the product. It is still safe to eat after that date but how long after that really depends on the product itself. Its quality may decrease over time depending on how it was stored but cooking or baking it can be a good way to repurpose foods that are not the freshest anymore.

The "Use by" label refers to safety. It is used for highly perishable foods such as meat, fish, dairy and other chilled foods. These foods should not be eaten past the expiration date and recommendations on how to best store them should be followed. Their shelf life can be increased by freezing them before they reach the date.

If you know you're going to eat the food shortly after buying it choose the item closest to the expiration date, it might save it from ending up in the trash and might even be cheaper for you!


You should not eat food past the use by date, but you can eat food past the best before date if it looks, smells and tastes fine.

6. My Challenge for you this month! 

This month I challenge you to get organized!

Check out your food waste diary and implement ways to prevent the type of waste you were generating most last month.

Try out some of the recipes from this newsletter and share the results with us on social media and/or in next month's letter

My team and I are also excited to hear from you about the last challenge!

Here you can upload a picture of your Food Waste Diary and leave us some comments. 

I hope you enjoyed this month's journal and got a whole lot of inspiration and new motivation to get creative in the kitchen and reduce food waste with us! 

See you next month as we explore scrappy cooking, traditional recipes that prevent food waste and ways to make the most out of tired fruits & veggies!


Author & Editor 

You can't wait to dive into the topic?

Here are some local events that you can join this month! 

More information:

You were wondering what else we've been up to? Last month we had our very first study visit in Slovenia!

Our first joint study visit took place from March 14th to 17th.

Participants from Slovenia, Croatia and Hungary were welcomed in Krško, Slovenia by KNOF.

This partner visit focused on the Value of Wasted Plastic. We explored how sustainable companies, guided by the principles of eco-design and lean innovation, can contribute to a better world. With this field trip, we offered a unique opportunity to see inspiring examples and gain practical skills in the field of lean sustainable innovation and business modeling.

If you want to read more about it, a full article can be found here.

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