Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Food waste? Be clever with leftovers

Apparently we waste 4.1 million tonnes of food each year in the UK and this adds £420 to the average family's annual food bill. I have to say that I absolutely hate waste. Nothing frustrates me more than watching someone leave perfectly good food on a plate , just because they have helped themselves to too much, been given too much in a restaurant, or simply because they are not particularly fond of what is one the plate.

According to Gordon Brown, if we reduce our food waste we will help towards reducing food prices. I am no economist, but I welcome anything that will help the family budget during these times of increased prices. I bet Gordon is pretty frugal....

Anyway, here are some of my tricks for minimising food waste in the home:

  • Shop daily if possible (this is great in theory, but many of us can only manage to do one big weekly shop. If this is the case, then it is a good idea to plan what you are going to cook each day)
  • Use up leftovers carefully - use bones, prawn peelings etc for stock, leftover meat and veg for pasta and risottos.
  • Think before you chuck away - be inventive with what is left in the fridge and store cupboard before stocking up again.
  • Put the dishes of food on the table rather than serve up individual portions. In this way each person around the table helps him/ herself to what they want according to how hungry they are.
  • Keep the fridge cold enough.
  • Don't take use by dates too seriously - they are often worst case scenarios and the food is fine for a few more days.

I was very kindly asked to lunch at a friend's house last week. She served up a very fine dish of twice-baked butternut squash and goats cheese souffle followed by a really delicious chocolate courgette cake - the courgettes and the squash were both "lying in the bottom of the fridge" and had to be used up. I thought that that was a really inventive way of using up waste.

We had three meals this week from two chickens:

This Sunday we had the family to lunch. Mark had bought two beautiful chickens from the local farm and he cooked us a delicious traditional Sunday roast (I had the day off to do a big run and the washing!).

On Monday, I picked off the excess left over chicken, boiled up one of the carcasses for stock, slowly sauteed some onions and finely sliced mushrooms, then added the stock, bay leaves, the chicken and some single cream (also left over from the pud on Sunday). We had a delicious soup for Monday evening. My daughter added pasta to hers as she was off for a big swim early the next morning.

On Tuesday, I used up the rest of the chicken on the boys on Tuesday- chicken baguettes with mayo, cucumber and salad leaves- and then boiled up the second carcass for a French onion soup with cheesy croutons. I finely sliced and gently sauteed a pack of onions which were on the brink of sprouting in some butter and olive oil, bay and thyme, salt, pepper and a sprinkle of sugar, then added the strained stock and a splash of white wine. I sliced some baguette which was starting to go stale, toasted it in some olive oil in the oven and then we ate the soup with these croutons and some grated cheese sprinkled over.

I can proudly say that there is no fresh food in the fridge today. Whoops, what are we going to eat tonight.....?

A great fun website for ideas with leftovers is

1 comment:

Geoff said...

Definatly the right attitude to have.
I too get frustrated with waste, but what I really can't stand is how people waste food then complain about how expensive it is!