As a society we throw away 7 millon tonnes of food and drink away every year*. It's an inconceiveable amount and I am as guilty as the next person for wasting food usually due to the fact that I hadn't planned my meals properly or used up leftovers. And it really annoys me. Living, as I do, on a farm, I see day in, day out the effort and resources that go into producing good food - something that we so easily take for granted.
So, I'm on a mission to reduce the amout of food I waste. Time for a little planning - and to think outside the box.
I have only just started to do this and it had a phenomenal impact on not only the amount of food we waste but what we spend. Both have reduced dramatically. Because I eat at home (and have a toddler and farmer to feed) five lunchtimes a week, where I can I make extra portions at tea time and have it as lunch the next day. It's timesaving and makes sure everything is used up.
SHOP LITTLE & OFTEN
Like so many families we ditched the weekly shop a long time ago. Yes, we still do a stock up on store cupboard items every now and again but we generally now buy milk, bread and fruit and vegetables every other day or so. Again, this has slashed the amount we waste and we only buy what we need.
USE STUFF UP
This sounds so obvious but it's a phrase to remember. I have seen me have caramelised houmous on toast for breakfast just to use stuff up. Just think outside the box - if a recipes calls for one ingredient but you only have another, try to adapt the recipe a little and see how it goes. And don't restrict certain meals to certain times of day.
- Ready to bin it? Old milk makes the best scones & bruised fruit is great heated with spices and frozen as a compote for later - beaut on porridge.
- Sunday roast leftovers make for amazing midweek lunches. I love left over mash potato and green veg fired up into bubble & squeak with cold meat.
- Pick the meat off and then boil up chicken carcasses to make stock. You can make soup or a pie with the meat and can freeze the stock for when you need it. The stock from a boiled ham also makes a super tasty base for pea and ham soup!
- Cold new potatoes are delish sliced and fried with a salad or make Spanish omelette for a quick meal.
USE THE FREEZER
Alongside my slow cooker, my freezer is my new best friend. I freeze everything - seriously EVERYTHING. Here's some of my favourite cheats:
- Make breadcrumbs from the heel of the bread and freeze them. When you come to make fishcakes, burgers etc you'll have them to hand and homemade is wayyy better than shop bought (and cheaper).
- When I buy ingredients for making green juice I freeze then right away. Spinach and kale especially freeze really well and blend well from frozen. I absolutely hate going to the fridge to find things have gone off before I come to use them.
- Buy reduced meat and stick it in the freezer, beef mince is especially good for this as you can make meatballs fro it first. Unless I am going to eat meat on the day I bought it I always (portion it up if need be and) stick it in the freezer anyway. If you see meat or fish reduced as its coming up to its best before date, buy it and freeze it to use later.
- There came a time recently when I was getting so fed up of wasting food that I started buying preprepared frozen veg. Chopped onion, butternut squash, mushrooms, baby carrots, sliced peppers, peas (obvs) and spinach are ones I regularly buy as well as frozen parsley. Buying fozen is sometimes just as cost effective as buying fresh and there is zero watse.
- Freeze leftover pasta sauce in portions for a super quick weeknight tea.
- Grate and freeze cheese that has maybe gone hard or is looking a but ropey. It's great to add to sauces from frozen to add richness. Butter freezes fine too and homemade herb butter is a fantastic way to make fresh herbs go further.
- Sarah Wilson, author of I QUIT SUGAR & SIMPLICIOUS blogs about using the freezer - check out this post as a good starting point and...
* Accoding to LOVE FOOD, HATE WASTE NI Website.