Saving Money in the Sustainable Kitchen

sustainable kitchen

As the cost of living rises, some of the changes we’ll make in our kitchens arise out of necessity too. As it turns out, opting to upcycle food (which can include using the same ingredients for multiple meals, or growing your own garden plants at home out of used veggies) is a means to making eating more affordable and sustainable at the same time. Affordability and sustainability meet when we have the most cost-effective ways of sustainably using produce and products for the good of our wallets and environments. As a chef, I am passionate about keeping waste to a minimum in our sustainable kitchen and ensuring that everything is used not only to save money, but also to reduce our impact on the environment. And I enjoy sharing my tips on how to do this with others. 

Become a food hero and reduce waste

One of the biggest contributors to food waste is overbuying. It has long been said that shopping on a hungry tummy increases the chances of adding unnecessary items to the trolley. Simple tips to counteract this include writing out what the next week’s menu might include for breakfast, lunch and dinner. When you already have an idea of what you might eat, you’re more likely to stick to it. Select an evening each week to plan your menu for the following week and use this to create a grocery list. This menu planning will also help to curb ordering takeaways when food is already in the fridge waiting to be prepared. Aim to use dinner leftovers for lunch the next day and use this food method to become a food hero in no time. 

Upcycling food

The idea of using one ingredient over several days has been around for decades. Today, this is known as food upcycling. Sunday roast chicken leftovers become Monday’s chicken mayo sandwiches, and the bones and leftover chicken then become Wednesday’s broth. This could turn into frozen chicken stock to be used for future soups, stews, pie fillings, and more.  

Upcycling food is sustainable because it reduces food waste and gives your food a longer life cycle. There are so many things that can be done with the foods that one wouldn’t ordinarily think to use. 

Vegetables like celery, radishes, green onions, lettuce and sprouts can all be grown on a kitchen window sill. Instead of discarding their roots after using them, immerse the bottom of the vegetable in a glass with a little water in it and place it in partial to full sun. Watch the vegetables grow and use them as desired. 


These are days when one ingredient becomes one meal. Like intermittent fasting, mono-eating was originally a means for our digestive systems to have a break. The body spends less time digesting a mixture of foods and is meant to be able to absorb more nutrients as a result. Think about eating only sweet potatoes for lunch or just oats and water for breakfast and a simple oven-grilled fish for dinner. These breaks in multiple-ingredient meals ensure less food wastage and give our bodies a day to experience something different, meant to boost the digestion process. 

Sustainably sourced and affordably sourced

Ingredients like fish and meat have become increasingly expensive because of the costs of mass farming them for consumer needs. To add to that, local retailers have turned to sourcing some fish and meat products from international markets. Local organisations like the sustainable fish farming app, Abalobi, have partnered with local fishermen. The groups sell fresh local and sustainably caught yellowtail, cape bream, snoek, carpenters and hardeers caught by local fishermen. Another local sustainable fish supplier, La Lunga, specialises in locally caught tuna focusing on freshness and affordability. Products are home delivered and sold at select retailers across the country. Look to local markets across the country for independent local meat, fish and seafood suppliers or look up local butchers.

Issues like climate change and food security are greater than any one individual can solve by their actions alone. However, as recent research suggests, making a lot of small changes such as eating less meat, selecting fish that is sustainably sourced and recycling can make a big difference to our environment over time.

Use food and waste in your garden

If you have green fingers or you have envisioned growing your own food, you can do just that with items you already have. Tomato seeds, for example, can be used to grow more tomatoes. Here are some tips on seeding out tomatoes for home growing:

  1. Take a tomato and use a toothpick to remove the seeds onto a separate plate
  2. Place seeds in a sieve and rinse with water
  3. Place clean seeds on a piece of tissue paper and place them on a sunny window sill
  4. Let them dry for two days
  5. Place a few seeds a few centimetres apart in potting soil, place in partial sun, and water every few days. Watch the plant grow! 

You can also use food waste in your garden. If you have a compost heap or bin, you could add your off-cuts from fruits, vegetables and even egg shells, while coffee grounds can be used as mulch and fertiliser. 

sustainable kitchen

As a hotel and restaurant, Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront and Tobago’s naturally have a lot of coffee grounds at the end of each day. We use this in the hotel gardens for additional fertiliser and we give it to the team to take home for their own gardens, too. It should be noted that coffee grounds are quite acidic so only add it to plants that love acid. 

Just these few small changes can make a big difference to how much waste you contribute to the environment, and also go a long way in saving you money.  

Article courtesy Chef Norman Heath, Head Chef, Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront

sustainable kitchen

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