Here’s a statistic that we will all have heard in the last few months: In the UK we throw away a third of the food we buy. That means that out of every three bags of shopping we bring into our homes, we throw away one. We are shocked by these statistics, but are we genuinely doing anything about it?
I don’t want to preach about this but considering how much we waste working hard to use up what we buy is not only good for the environment but it is good for our bank balances. My food receipts are on a scary upward climb and I can’t afford all the luxuries I once bought; tropical fruits, artisan breads, posh biscuits and lots of meat and fish. I don’t want to cut back on the quality of my meat, so I need to find other ways to save money.
I think thrift is a lost art. Today on the whole we are better at creating exciting, healthy dishes, but we don’t posses the skills our grandparents had. They could stretch a roast chicken to make three or four meals.
There are loads of things we can do to cut the waste and cut our costs. One place I really recommend going to is the ‘Love Food, Hate Waste’ website (www.lovefoodhatewaste.com). It has lots of tips on how to store food for longer, portion sizes, how to make food go further and left-over recipes.
I want this post to be the start of a few posts about reducing waste and saving money. It is especially hard for a couple or a single person to reduce waste because so many products are made with a family of four in mind; jars of sauces are too much, loaves of bread go off before they are eaten and my difficulty is being able to eat a whole bag of spinach before it goes soggy because spinach is always sold in such huge packets.
I’ll start with a few tips from the Love Food, Hate Waste website and some of my own. Later I’ll add some recipes that will use up left-overs or that are generally cheap to make. I’d love to hear from anyone with more ideas on how to save money and use up food, so please leave comments with your advice for me.
Top waste reducing tips
1. Can’t use up all your bread? Either freeze half of the loaf and take it out as you need it. Or if you have a little bit of stale bread left then whiz it into bread crumbs put it in a bag and freeze them.
2. Make your own pasta sauces in batches out of two or three cans of plum tomatoes, garlic, salt, pepper, sugar and some basil at the end of the cooking. You will need to cook it for a good 30 minutes so it gets thick and concentrated. Freeze portions in boxes or bags. You can jazz them up once you defrost them by adding some Mediterranean roasted vegetables and some goat’s cheese on top. Or stir in a bit more fresh basil a knob of butter and some parmesan while it is re-heating.
3. Weigh all your dried goods, such as rice and pasta so you don’t cook too much. Two people need around 150ml or rice or 200g of pasta as a rough guide.
4. Freeze fresh herbs whole in a bag in the freezer or chop and put into ice cube trays, cover with water then freeze, remove the cubes from the trays when frozen and keep together in a freezer bag.
5. Always create a meal plan before making a shopping list. This sounds so boring but it will seriously cut down how much useless stuff you buy at the supermarket. Check the cupboards, fridge and freezer first to see what you have to use up, make a seven day list of what you are going to eat, then only buy the ingredients for the meals. I also note down what I will have for lunch so I can use up ingredients that will be left over. Eg Sunday: roast chicken, Monday: lunch, chicken salad, Monday evening: chicken pilaf using the last of the left-over chicken.