The War on Waste: a Happy Foot Soldier

The War on Waste: a Happy Foot Soldier

I’m certain you’re aware of the environmental plight the world is facing; in particular domestic waste. Let me remind you. According to Cool Australia, each Australian produces 2.25 kg of waste a day. Part of this daily waste includes plastic bags which take between  20 and 1,000 years to break down, sitting in landfill producing greenhouse gases or harm animals through ingestion or suffocation.

And to compound local recycling issues, in July 2017, China decided it would no longer take foreign garbage to recycle.

These are alarming realities of the consumer society of the world we live in today, and I’m sure you’ll agree, a more active position to merely swapping out shopping bags at the supermarket needs to be done to address the war on waste.

As it happens, my good friend and inspirational business woman, Anna, has done just that and opened a wholefood store that encourages its customers to BYO their own containers for purchases: no tinned or plastic wrapped foods are available, and only supplies sustainable and biodegradable packaging to her customers.

Anna also stocks spray free or organic fresh fruit and vegetables.

And how to prepare delicious meals using all these beautiful ingredients is where I step in to play my part against the war on waste by way of recipe design. Anna wanted to supply her customers with delicious recipes cards for her range of in-store produce and the weekly vegetables boxes, in alignment with her aim of reducing domestic fresh produce and packaging waste.

You see, as a qualified chef and passionate food photographer, I have hundreds of recipes and photographs on hand. Anna is also a raving fan of my work, so it was only a matter of time before we nutted out the details of a twice-weekly supply of recipes and imagery that met her needs.

Healthy Happy Staff

I am really excited about this project, no longer a commercial cookery professional, I do like to keep my hand in the catering game and also considered it a strategic business alignment to my health & wellbeing consultancy, Healthy Happy Staff, so it fits perfectly into my business model of doing what you love.

As it was a business decision to work with Anna under the Healthy Happy Staff umbrella, I applied a project management approach to the supply of recipes, and three distinct phases emerged to work within: the range of goods available at Unpacked, my current recipe collection, and the supply of photographs.

Healthy Happy Staff

To commence, I had to know my audience and the ingredients I would be working with, which were split into 2 sections; fresh and dried.

The fresh component consisted of standard every week staples such as spuds, pumpkin and greens, the veggies a client could bank on and plan their roasts around, and the seasonal produce; Jerusalem Artichokes and broad beans – the weekly surprise that could have one scratching one’s head.

The dried foods include flours of all sorts, banana flour, quinoa flour, buckwheat flour, and the dried grains, legumes and pulses such as beluga lentils, borlotti beans and millet.

Being a bull at a gate, I quickly moved onto the second stage – the recipe selection.

The recipe collection required the most from me, an analysis of the recipes that included ingredients that met the Unpacked ethos was needed. The choc chip cookies simply didn’t meet the brief and were binned – figuratively of course, even as environmentally aware that I am becoming, I feel there will always be room for choc chip cookies…

The recipe formatting details needed attention, little things like consistency in style – tsp or teaspoon, c for a cup or the full extrapolation? Either or, but I had to be consistent.

To ensure the Unpacked customers knew what I was talking about, I created a recipe testing group. I knew what my scribing was telling me to do, but could others understand it and obtain the same result? Interestingly, when I presented 2 different methods to test for the one recipe, I would receive a 50/50 split from the group to which was better understood – a recipe composer’s nightmare!

My job was to elicit an immediate reaction; I wanted Anna’s customers to pick up the cards and want to cook up a storm. I wanted them to want next week’s recipe and to be excited about the weekly surprise as dinner that night was presented with pride and received with an explorative hunger. If the recipes didn’t work or were hard to understand, the whole project would come to a screaming halt.

And lastly, the accompanying recipe imagery; the fun bit for me. Food photography and styling has been a recent passion to emerge, and one I was keen to develop. I had 100’s of photos on file; however, with my internal attachment to continual improvement, a lot didn’t make the cut with the delete button getting a proper workout.

So the family dinner took on a whole new tangent, Mumma cooking and stylin’ up a storm, photographing, with wailing, hungry babes wanting to know what I was doing with their dinner…

Healthy Happy Staff

Part of the task was to supply recipes and images for what is coming up in season, not what had past, and while the supermarkets may have a year-round supply of apples or hot crossed buns, you won’t find them at Unpacked until it’s their proper time, seasonal eating is very important to me. An example being the Jerusalem Artichoke Fritter recipe card which is now ready for the first spring harvest, the season is short – yet Anna and I are ready, as are her suppliers who know to supply extra this year because customers will know what to do with these bulbous root vegetables.

Another example of my lead time planning is the gluten, dairy and refined sugar-free steamed chocolate Christmas pudding I developed in 2014. I have been sitting, waiting for the perfect moment to release this stellar recipe.

To have this recipe tested by others and photographed ready to be produced into the A5 recipe card, for release to the Unpacked customers in November, I was in production in August. An upside to having Christmas pudding ready midyear? You guessed it – Six weeks to cure nicely, the pudding was devoured wholeheartedly in late October by my family before the silly season even began.

The perfect storm to this gig was when a recipe and photograph met the brief – little more work was required to collate the recipe and supporting image. Inevitably though, some things don’t always go to plan. In my trusty recipe book are pages of handwritten notes and scribing of recipes, with no image of the family and friend approved dish to prove its worth. Or on my camera are images of culinary delights with no attached scribing…the two worlds just didn’t collide those days.

Anna is leading the charge on addressing the war on waste, and I am most happy to be a part of her army and be the recipe foot soldier. By supplying the recipes and imagery for the card production, I too feel I am making an impact on the war on waste, one shopping trip at a time.

A smaller, but similar recipe development project had me commissioned to supply recipes for the Hazell Bros Group, nationwide issued, staff winter wise booklet. The booklet was part of their corporate health & wellbeing program, and in particular, the Brown Rice Bircher was a hit with staff.

Get in contact if you’re looking for bespoke and engaging ways to interact with your staff and customers, tailoring projects is my speciality.


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