‘Oh, I just chucked half a cabbage I bought last week. I didn’t think about making that.’
‘I didn’t know you could freeze pitta. I ate two and threw the rest away.’
‘I was going to cook [name your dish] and then something came up, so I ended up just binning the ingredients.’
‘I’ve got loads of bits and pieces in the fridge but no idea what to do with it all. I’ll probably end up just going shopping again.’
Sound familiar? Many of us are guilty of food waste, in fact, according to WRAP, £13 billion of household food was needlessly wasted in the UK in 2015. Just think of the impact this is having on your bank balance. With a little effort and thought, you could not only be financially better off but help the environment too. Win, win!
So, what can you easily do to reduce your food waste and save some cash? You could go all out and attempt zero food waste, using every last morsel including your peelings, but I said what can you easily do? Let’s start with a few steps in the right direction.
Using up leftovers and ingredients
When faced with bits and pieces to use up, it’s good to start thinking outside the box. With a bit of imagination, leftovers can be even more delicious than the first time round and scraps of veg left in the fridge can be turned into hearty soups, fulfilling frittatas or summery salads and slaws.
Some of my salad and slaw ideas for using up leftover veg.
Making it stretch
Make your expensive ingredients stretch in a stew, curry or stir-fry whilst using up the food in your veg drawer, freezer and store cupboard (including tinned or dried pulses). Not only do you not need as much meat, but you’ll also be easily upping your veg intake whilst saving your pennies.
Spend a little time after doing your shopping to portion up meat, fish or bread before freezing. Going for smaller portions gives you most flexibility when you want to use it and reduces the risk of waste.
Freeze anything you can’t use as soon as you can. The remainder of a tin of blitzed tomatoes, chopped chillies, ginger, herbs, egg whites, leftover meat or additional portions of curries, chillies etc.
Try my bread gnocchi recipe as a way of using up some crusts and other bits of bread.
You can buy some frozen fish and seafood at a fraction of the price of fresh. For dishes such as fish pies and fishcakes, frozen white fish, salmon and smoked haddock work brilliantly.
Not all fruit and vegetables freeze well, but as with the fish, there are some you can get away with, you just need to think about how best to use them.
Vegetables: think fritters, chowders/soups, cauliflower and broccoli cheese, pasta bakes, stir-fries and curries.
Fruit: berries for porridge, pancakes and desserts, peeled and sliced overripe bananas can be turned into ice cream, muffins or smoothies, stew apples and pears for a pie or crumble, puree strawberries ready to pour over ice cream or stir through natural yoghurt.
Getting into the habit of making a food plan will help you save time and money as well as reduce stress and waste. Planning ahead makes it easier to think about the ingredients that need using up. All you need to do then is make a shopping list and stick to it!
Once you’ve made a start, and the changes you make become second nature, it’ll be easy to build on what you’re doing to take it even further.
For more help, recipe inspiration and ideas for reducing your food waste and saving money, get in touch.