How to Fight the War on Waste | The Gourmand & Gourmet

How to Fight the War on Waste

Considering that the average Australian household throws away 25% of their weekly grocery shop, and 40% of our bin content is food, we would take a stab at saying we need some serious tips on how to be less garbage people – literally.

G&G sat down with local legend, café owner and fermentation expert Nims (of epic Greenslopes cafe The Jam Pantry) to find out how we can maximise our food, and minimise our global footprint. With The Jam Pantry at the forefront of #nowaste policies and a beacon of the support local movement, we were more than eager to share her pearls of wisdom – and clean up our own act.


Start out by only buying what you need. Sounds simple, but how many of us have a sneaky bag of carrots rotting away in the beer crisper – or a bag of spinach that’s more slime than sustenance? Proper planning is key to avoiding waste. Be honest about how many meals you’ll eat at home each week and only buy ingredients specific to those meals. Take a trip into the back of your pantry (hello four cans of tinned tomato)and incorporate excess items into your weekly menu.


Not all garbage was created equal, so recycle and compost as much as possible. Blessed with a green thumb and grow your own fruits, veg and herbs? Donate your excess to a neighbour – or Jam Pantry! With Nims at the helm, Jam Pantry is one of Brisbane’s no waste leaders: turning excess produce donated by the local community’s backyard gardeners into preserves, fruit shrubs and flavoured kombuchas. They’ve also partnered with Loop Growers, who collect the cafe’s compostible yield and use it for their garden (and in turn, Jam Pantry purchases produce back off them to use on their sensational seasonal menu).


Need two coffees to get through the daily grind? We get it. But you should get a Keep Cup – the key to caffeination with a conscience (after all, over a million coffee cups end up in landfill each year in Australia). Helping do their bit, Jam Pantry sells stylish Keep Cups in the cafe, and has a strict no takeaway cup policy for those dining in.


Don’t bin your leftover produce: preserve, pickle or ferment it! Jam is the perfect way to empty your fruit bowl, and use up all that extra seasonal produce that may otherwise be binned. Nims advice?

A quick and easy jam recipe is equal parts sugar and fruit, bring to the boil and  put a little on a saucer in the fridge to test its set point. If it’s the consistency that you like with your test, remove it from the heat and decant into well cleaned jars.

And when you’re ready to up the ante, try your hand at chutneys and relishes. #domesticgoals For those more fixated on fermentation, Nims says kombucha is one of the best – and most simple – starting points. You can then build your skills to whip up healthy ginger beers, fruit sodas and even a cheat’s mead with honey!

New to the joys of preserving and fermentation? Nims runs workshops from her quirky café – and there’s one coming up on October 28th – see the Jam Pantry website for more information.


As a good rule of thumb, any fresh produce that’s priced well is usually in season. It also pays to shop locally, go to your neighbourhood markets and chat with the producers about what’s being harvested. They’ll be happy to tell you what’s in season, what’s being locally grown and how best to utilise your produce. Jam Pantry is well connected with local farmers, and their menu is always changing to support what’s fresh. Honey is in abundance right now in SE Queensland, and if you step into the cafe this week you’ll find honey fried sour cherry loaf, omlettes with honey roasted daikon and honey cranberry jelly featured on the menu!


Because we can’t resist snooping into our favourite chefs’ kitchens, we asked Nims the one essential she can’t live without.

“My fermenting crock. I’m currently making kraut from beetroot leaves, carrot tops and daikon leaves. I’ve made a delicious Indian pickle from limes, and pears are about to be ready with a mulberry ferment for a pickle.

Umm.. can we move in please? So whether you’re a waste warrior, fermentation fiend or jam junkie – there’s an endless list of ways you can crack down on waste, save money, eat better and support local suppliers.

Let’s start now. 

Words by Emma Callaghan