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Cook lucks: turn random ingredients into dinner with friends

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Food waste is a major cause of climate change, because food production pumps out greenhouse gas emissions – gases that are emitted for no reason when food is wasted. The Youth Food Movement have come up with a novel way of fighting food waste: “cook lucks”, dinner parties using ingredients that were destined for the scrapheap. By Zo Zhou of the Youth Food Movement. 

Say hello to some of the ingredients for your next dinner party. Those bendy carrots you forgot about. Your friend’s bread that went rock hard on their counter. Your workmate’s spinach that’s in need of some serious CPR (that’s culinary produce resuscitation, for the uninitiated). Wait, what?

cook luck vegetables Instead of bringing a plate, get your friends to bring those things that need rescuing from their fridge or pantry. You then have everything you need to recreate a collective Masterchef-style mystery box challenge, in your own kitchen. You pick up cooking hacks from your friends. You save food from ending up in the trash. Best of all, you get to spend time with your mates without having to shell out a dime.

Youth Food Movement Australia are dubbing them “cook lucks,” a combination of a pot luck and a good old cooking sesh.

It all started from a successful string of food-saving workshops called SpoonLed. “We wanted to start a new way of looking at food with creativity and friendship at its heart,” Creative Producer Helena Rosebery explains. Each workshop essentially shared food saving hacks with attendees, who went on to run their own food-saving parties to inspire their friends. “Seeing the creativity unfold on social media has been amazing,” says Rosebery.

food1The “teaspoon” events that attendees have run so far have been a total hit. “The Teaspoon Party was a massive learning curve for my friends,” says Ania Newbery, who rustled up a feast from food rescued from friends’ fridges. “They were pleasantly surprised at how tasty all their leftovers could be. It made me so proud to be able to teach them about something I’m so passionate about.”

But what if your mates aren’t confident enough in the kitchen to turn old carrots into new dips, falafels, and baked goodies? “Even if none of your friends are amazing cooks, you can do something like a pizza ‘cook luck’, where you supply the bases and everyone else brings the topping. We’ve seen pizza nights that have totally blown the lid off what can be put on a pizza!” says Rosebery.

Indeed, there’s nothing quite like turning your fridge shame into something you’re proud to Instagram. All while doing your bit for food waste.

“Together, we can turn food waste around,” says Rosebery. “We can turn the one in five bags of food that we normally chuck, into something delicious. We can support food we believe in with the $1,000 a year that households spend on food that’s thrown out. We can grow our creative muscle as we send 40% less trash to landfill. In the process, we can even turn climate change around – because if the greenhouse gas emissions from rotting food was a country, it would be the third biggest contributor.”

Hit up #SpoonLed on Instagram to get a little inspiration for your next dinner party or to share your own.

A huge thank you for the support of the Environmental Trust as part of the NSW EPA’s Waste Less, Recycle More initiative, funded from the waste levy.

YFM2About Youth Food Movement Australia

Youth Food Movement Australia is growing a generation of 16,000 young Australians who care about their food choices and are co-creating a more sustainable food future. Their volunteer-powered food projects work with industry, councils and universities in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Launceston and Western Sydney, with more chapters already sprouting up. An estimated 32,000 hours of volunteer time have resulted in 36 events all over the country.

Photos: Youth Food Movement

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