Tuesday, 22 October 2013
Waste not, want not - Hints for reducing household food waste
You may have seen in the news how Tesco revealed that they threw away 28,500 tonnes of food in the first six months of this year, and estimate that families waste around £700 of food a year. In the current climate, it seems almost criminal to be throwing away food when the Trussell Trust are reported to be opening three new food banks every week.
It makes you think about what you can do in your own home to prevent food waste, including ways to use up that veg that might be languishing at the bottom of the fridge or those heels of the loaf that nobody seems to eat (no such problem with bread in my house, I must add - the trick is getting to it before everyone eats it all).
There are lots of handy hints available online to help you reduce what you throw away. I've had a look around and found some recipes and tips for reducing food waste.
According to Friends of the Earth, bread is the UK's most wasted food. On their site they share 40 ways to use up stale bread including making breadcrumbs, a delicious bread & butter pudding (lovely at this time of year especially), making your own stuffing, croutons or perhaps some pizza toast as a quick after-school snack for the kids, to name just a few.
FRUIT & VEGETABLES
A great way to use up vegetables is a hearty soup, my Family Kitchen Cookbook has a fantastic recipe for what is called 'bottom of the fridge' or harvest vegetable soup, which can be made with onion, leek, celery and any old root veg you might have with some stock and seasoning and then whizzed to a smooth consistency. You can then enjoy it with the croutons you made with the stale bread!
If you have some over-ripe tomatoes, quarter them and pop them in a pan with some oil and garlic, then add water until the tomatoes have broken down (or give them a mash to help them along) with a bit of seasoning, and you have a perfect pasta sauce (that can also be frozen to use at a later date).
Bananas past their best? Don't bin them - make banana bread! Perfect for popping into kids lunch boxes as a treat (particularly if you have made it as a tray bake) or enjoying after your evening meal, or perhaps just a slice with a cuppa mid-morning. Don't forget, you can also wrap up a banana cake well (cling film and foil/freezer bag) and then freeze it for another time. I found this banana bread tray bake recipe on allrecipes which would be equally as good without the frosting on top, personally I prefer my banana cake without a topping anyway. You could even whip up some banana breakfast muffins using this delicious recipe from Utterly Scrummy.
Fruit that is going over can be whizzed up with some plain yoghurt or cream & fruit juice and then frozen in moulds or little containers to make fruity frozen yoghurt/ fruit fro-yo lollies for a treat.
Alternatively you might consider jarring up some homemade preserves and chutneys using leftover fruits & vegetables, such as onion marmalade, mango chutney, applesauce or maybe a nice apple jam.
I have found that careful meal planning saves us a bundle. Every Monday I sit down with my recipe books and choose what we're having - along with some input from the kids and the Mister - and I grocery shop online for all of the ingredients to be delivered the following Monday. I also link up with Mrs M's weekly blog hop and get some inspiration from the other bloggers who join in each week.
We choose meals for each day - being mindful of what activities we have on those days - and 9 times out of 10 we do stick to it. However, sometimes life gets in the way of even the best laid plans so we might jig the week around & have Thursday's dinner on Tuesday because it was quicker/easier, and we have "emergency" chips & fish fingers in the freezer just in case. But - we stick to our meal plans, and I don't have cupboards or a fridge/freezer teeming with things that will end up unused & binned at the end of the week which saves us money, AND reduces waste.
FREEZER (& CUPBOARD) DIVING
We do this every so often to use up bits & bobs that for whatever reason have been unused and are sitting around taking up space. Freezer-diving is especially useful before Christmas, to save money and free up room ready for all the festive goodies.
Even with careful meal planning, you find that you'll be left with the odd packet of mince or jar of sauce or something. So, we empty the freezer & cupboards and make meals from what we have.
A good example of this is this baked bean lasagne recipe which always goes down well and is made entirely of things that we usually have hanging about in the cupboard. It's also worth checking out Fab Food 4 All where bloggers share their 'Credit Crunch Munch' ideas including tips on batch cooking and using leftovers to make meals.
Do you have any tips for reducing food waste at home, or perhaps a recipe to share that uses up leftovers, or those bits that languish in the bottom drawer of the fridge?