Washing and Chopping Vegetables to cut back on Food Waste

Most root vegetables can be washed rather than peeled, especially if it has come from an organic farm, or better still, is are home grown!

This will save on food waste and mean you get to eat more of what you buy. If part of a vegetable is bruised or looks as though it has gone off, chop off just that area rather than discarding the whole vegetable. This will save you from having to buy more vegetables when the ones you’ve got are mostly still edible.

A Zero Waste Life.  Washing and Chopping

Washing vegetables


-Scrubbing brush (I use an old washing up brush)


-Clean tea -towel (use two if you have limited space on your draining board)


1. Fill up your sink with cold clean water. No detergents or vinegars are needed. If you have a smaller section in your sink, use this part to save water.

2. Submerge all your vegetables into the water.

3. Take out one item at a time and scrub it with your brush. Dip back in the water as needed.

4. When clean, add it to the colander, which can be set over the draining board or on a tea -towel

5. Keep cleaning the vegetables. If your water gets very muddy, scrub all the vegetables in the muddy water, then drain the water and clean in fresh waster all in one go, so you’re not wasting water.

6. Leave the vegetables to air dry if possible, or dry off with a clean tea- towel if needed.

Note- certain leafy vegetables like spinach, lettuce and kale can’t really be scrubbed like root vegetables or courgettes can. For these vegetables, submerge and shake in water, then remove from water, drain water and repeat twice more. You will have no mud left on the leafy greens by the end. Use a salad spinner, if you have one, or leave to dry on a tea towel.

A Zero Waste Life.  Washing and Chopping

Chopping Vegetables

If you’ve given your vegetables a good clean, it is likely that you will be able to get away with peeling and chopping less to be discarded. When chopping vegetables which need inedible parts discarded, cut as near to the tips as you possibly can.

Vegetables like onions can be peeled and trimmed only slightly meaning you get to eat more of your wonderful veg! The peelings can be frozen to use in a vVegetable peeling stock.

A Zero Waste Life. Onion

Chopping Onions to produce less waste

I learnt this method directly from real life actual chefs when I was at a volunteer cooking event! They were way quicker at this method than me, but it the method I have used ever since.


  • A medium sized sharp knife

  • A chopping board

A Zero Waste Life.  Chopping an onion


1. Take the knife in the hand you normally cut vegetables with and use the other hand to steady the onion on the board. Cut the end off the onion which is at the opposite end to the roots. Don’t over do it! It only needs about a cm cut off.

2. Now you have a flat surface to place downwards on your chopping board. Cut directly through the root towards the flat edge you created.

3. Put your knife down, and peel off the skin of the onion. Keep the root in tact.

4. Freeze your onion scraps to make Vegetable Scrap Stock or compost them.

5. Take one half of the onion and place it onto the board- the roots at one end and your first cut at the other. Place your fingers on the top of your onion. Take your knife and cut horizontally from the first cut you made towards the root. If your onion is big enough, make two cuts. Keep the root in tact.

6. Now cut the top of your onion in long strokes. Cut from the root all the way down the onion (you are following the lines of the onion) Keep the root in tact.

7. The final way to cut is perpendicular to this last cut. Start at the opposite end of the root and work towards the root. You will chop off the root this time, and will have a lot less to discard!

A Zero Waste Life. Chopping an onion

Did you follow these instructions?

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a

picture on Instagram with the hashtag #azerowastelife!


This article links in with a weeklong Zero Waste food challenge, which aims to produce Zero Food Waste, which you can partake in whenever you like.