I Used ChatGPT to help Me Reduce Food Waste
It’s another fridge cleanout Friday – the day I try to use up all the odds and ends in my fridge before I do the weekly grocery shop.
But this week is a little different.
This week, I’m using Open AI’s ChatGPT to help me come up with some meal ideas and recipes to use up all the fresh produce that’s wilting away in my crisper drawer.
Here’s how it went.
Reducing Food waste
My fridge cleanout Fridays started as a way to help me reduce food waste.
Because I used to have a terrible habit of ordering takeaway on Friday nights, doing the weekly grocery on Saturday morning, and then making meals using all the new food I’d bought, leaving the rest of the produce to die a slow death in depths of the crisper.
And I was ok with it because I have a compost bin, and I reasoned that it’s not so bad because I’m not sending any food to landfill. The wasted food is being composted, so no greenhouse gas emissions.
But waste is still waste, and the compost bin shouldn’t be treated like a fallback plan. Instead, the compost bin should be the last resort.
In Australia alone, we throw out about 2.5 million tonnes of food each year. And when we throw out that food, we’re also wasting the labour, water, energy, and resources it took to get the produce from the farm to our table.
And then there’s the money we’re wasting. Around a third of the food we buy, we throw away. It’s like buying three bags of groceries and then, on the way back to the car, chucking one of those bags in the bin, which equates to around $3,000 worth of food per household every year.
You have to agree that’s just ridiculous.
The Fridge Cleanout
So I decided to do better.
I’ve been doing fridge cleanouts for almost a year now, and this one simple habit has drastically reduced the amount of fresh food I was throwing away. It’d also been fun getting creative in the kitchen and learning new ways to cook up food that needed to be eaten.
Normally, I stand in front of the fridge each Friday and work out what to make using my trusty recipes. Or I would go to my saved Instagram and Tiktok meal ideas or Google what to make, sifting through dozens of recipes for inspiration, which can be a little time-consuming.
Which is why I thought, surely, AI could speed up this process.
Using ChatGPT to create recipes
Starting with a basic prompt, listing all the fresh produce I needed to use up.
So far, so good. ChatGPT even told me that the meals were quite basic and asked if I had any other ingredients it could use to jazz up this simple meal.
Now we’re cooking! These meal ideas sound really good.
I checked the freezer to see what else I could potentially add to the meal plan.
While that sounded fantastic – I was already drooling over dinner at 10am – but it did leave out most of the fresh ingredients I wanted to use up. So I prompted again.
Now this is a detailed meal, and not one bit of food is wasted! ChatGPT even gave me serving and plating suggestions.
The Future of Meal Planning
I loved the experience, all 3 minutes of it! All it took was some basic prompts and a few adjustments, and that’s dinner sorted for tonight.
But I’m sorry to tell you that I did not end up making this meal. I was tired and didn’t feel like putting together all the different elements. So instead, I made a quick and easy primavera-style pasta.
I roasted the ocean trout, pumpkin and broccoli, chopped up the tomatoes and rocket, and tossed them in the pasta with some dill and parsley from the garden, a squeeze of lemon, salt, and pepper. You can find the recipe video on Instagram.
If this is the future of AI, bring it on.
Of course, AI is not without its problems and should not replace the expert advice from doctors and nutritionists. But I can see how useful this would be for busy households, using it to create meal plans and grocery lists and find new ways to use up old produce and save a lot of time in the process.
Will I use it again? Absolutely! Stay tuned for the next AI-powered fridge cleanout Friday!