Every year in the UK we throw away 4.2 million tonnes of good food. When you think of the effort it takes to grow and farm food this is a terrible waste.Every day UK homes throw away roughly:
By throwing away food we are throwing away our money. The average family could save up to £700 a year by throwing away less food. The Love Food, Hate Waste campaign aims to raise awareness of the amount of food families are wasting and teach us how to make food go further. Leftovers can be used to make great meals instead of being thrown away. I was challenged by Love Food, Hate Waste to buy £30 worth of food and use it to create meals without wasting anything. Read on to find out how I got on.
How many of us are guilty of going to the supermarket without a meal plan and just throwing food into our trolley randomly? By doing this you end up with lots of food but nothing that could actually be used in a meal. By taking the time to write a meal plan before you go and listing the ingredients you need you can save money. I also check what I have in my cupboards before I go so I don’t end up with duplicate ingredients. There was a time when I found I bought rice every time I went shopping and had about 20 packs in the cupboard. Love Food, Hate Waste have a handy two week menu planner to help you get started.The idea is simple, write down what you are going to have for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next week or two weeks. Look though the recipe and write down the ingredients you need. Check what you already have in and then write a shopping list. This ensures you food that you can use for meals.
Before I went shopping I planned what I was going to buy with my £30 and wrote a list. I then checked what was in the cupboard and crossed off anything I didn’t need.
From these ingredients I made the following meals.
Marmalade Glazed Ham with broccoli, red cabbage, roast potatoes, roast parsnips and gravy. This was perfect for Sunday lunch. I cooked the whole cabbage and divided the leftovers into freezer bags and froze them. I now have three servings of red cabbage that I can reheat in the microwave when I need vegetables to go with another meal.
I boiled the ham before roasting it and used half of it with a load of vegetables to make a big pot of ham and vegetable soup. This was served with bread for dinner the next day.There was a big pot full so we had enough for lunch the next day. The leftover soup can also be frozen and kept for another time.
I had also bought chicken, curry sauce and rice. I used this to make a meal, adding some extra onions. I had extra chicken breasts so again froze these ready to use another day. Not only had I got plenty of meals, I also had leftovers which could be used another day.
One of the things I consistently struggle with when making meals is getting the portion sizes correct. It is really easy to cook far too much rice, pasta and potatoes and end up having to throw them away. Left over potatoes can be used in bubble and squeak or pasta in pasta salads but it is easier to get the portions right to start with. Use your kitchen equipment to help you get portions right. One adult portion of rice is about quarter of a mug full. 100g measured on your kitchen scales is an adult portion of pasta. If you need more help the Love Food, Hate Waste website has a portion calculator to help you.
When you meal plan you often find that you have a lot of food in the house after you have been shopping. You need to be aware of how long that food will last, otherwise you may find that some of it has gone off and you need to throw it out. When you unpack your shopping check the use by dates. Use the food with the shortest use by dates first. If you are not going to be able to use some if it check if you can freeze it. Food can be frozen up to the use by date and used after, but if the use by date has passed it should not be eaten. Best before is different, food can be eaten after this date but may not be at the best.
To keep vegetables fresh store them in the fridge in the pack they came in. Potatoes and onions are the only vegetables that should not be kept in the fridge. Any vegetables that look as if they might not last can be made into soups and frozen.
With a bit of planning and preparation we can reduce the amount of food we waste and save money. Meal planning is a great way to do this and I find that by having a list I tend to buy less junk food when I am shopping. I can also prepare meals in advance and freeze them for later. This saves me time when I have had a busy week at work. Do you meal plan? Do you find it works for you?