I got a call today from some fellor or other researching food waste in Norfolk, which got me thinking.
Which got me writing.
Food waste is just something you cover in the average cookery lesson, its tips on what can be frozen, how long you can keep stuff, what’s a ‘best before’ date and stock rotation. It’s rammed in to us at college, NO WASTAGE, WASTE IS MONEY. Then as a chef in catering – money, waste, use up’s, don’t over buy. We’d often change the menu or put special on to use up something equally as scrumptious. In fact I find some of the best dishes are those made up, or made up of use ups – maybe you make more of an effort when you have to combine a whole side of Salmon with 10 kg of Yams.
So it’s become second nature in my family kitchen.
I’m always telling my hubby of for eating the ripe bananas first, but then again, he likes them green while I like them over-easy!
Here’s the figures – In the UK there is 7 million tonnes of food waste per year equalling over 13 billion pounds, that’s nearly £500 per household – it’s been said at least a ¼ of all food bought is wasted.
By weight that equates to household food waste at 70%, 17% in manufacturing, 10% in hospitality & food service leaving 3% in retail.
Potatoes, apples and bread are the top wasted foods by quantity but more salad is thrown away in the greatest proportion.
The majority of wasted food is avoidable, with a small section like teabags being unavoidable and some foods being wasted due to preference like potato skins and crusts.
One third of all the worlds food is wasted.
So, I was thinking what are we doing now –
I know lots of restaurants that give good yummy food waste to charities. Some cafes and supermarkets are selling food off at certain times of the day – love that. I’ve heard of factories having staff shops to sell of the oddities.
There’s campaigns like ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ with an amazing website https://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/article/welcome-love-food-hate-waste-community offering tons of useful information.
Community fridges are an amazing resource not only for people who hugely benefit from them like homeless but also to reduce waste by swapping.
Offer shelves in supermarkets are good, better the supermarkets that give to charity’s and sell wonky carrots than see them binned.
Farms are offering the rejected produce in farm shops, organic bags and community incentives – – – I think the biggest waste I’ve actually seen is from farms, with the rejection of ‘anything but perfect, pert little veggies’ – it’s getting used as cattle feed or rotted down for manure but it’s still a waste – good food someone in need could have eaten. I like seeing the farm producing something good from its excess stock – the good old farmer’s wife churning out artisan cheese and making more money than her husband’s actual farm.
I’ve seen incentives for use ups – community lunches, feeding the homeless, fund raisers – it’s all amazing.
it’s us at home tossing half our fridge in the bin that makes up the biggest percentage of food waste, the bin lorry’s full of it that we don’t see, the land waste stacked high in thrown away, out of date dinners. If we could see it piled up, maybe we’d think differently about it all.
So, here are some tips from Lodge Farm Kitchen to help reduce waste and SAVE lots of money.
If I spend £80 a week on a family of 4’s food, plus £20 in top up shopping and throw 25% of it away – that’s £25 per week x 52 weeks in the year = That’s £1300 per annum in stuff I could have used or simply not bought in the first place.
Say there’s 100 houses in my village of Bawburgh and we all do roughly the same, that’s = £130,000 just for our 3-mile square patch of inhabitance. Even if that’s not the right figure and its less than half of that – it still means the Village of Bawburgh, more than likely wastes Fifty Thousand Pounds in food waste, that was once yummy and fresh.
I specialise in Asian cookery and all these lovely spices and flavours are ok to freeze –
Chillis – they chop easily from frozen.
Lemon Grass – a little soft but good for slow cooked stuff and pastes.
Coconut Milk – as above but runnier.
Ginger – grate from frozen, skin on is fine
Chopped fresh Herbs – in ice cubes or small bags, whack ‘em in a sauce.
Any dish in a sauce– freezes lovely.
Rice can be frozen and re heated once.
Noodles and stir fry dishes – better defrosted and made in to a Ramin with stock to moisten.
Garlic, ginger and lemon grass last for weeks in the fridge, they do go a little soft after a while but they still pack good flavour so add to roasted vegetables and meat to boost the flavour. Use up in stocks. Or flavour oils with them.
Or make up pastes and freeze them.
Dairy – surprisingly some dairy products can be frozen.
Cheese – freezes ok but lacks its original firmness, but use up grated or melted in to sauces. Cheese is so easy to use up – toppings, melted in to a sauce, mixed in to salad, stuffed in to a burger, made in to a dip.
Milk – can be frozen, however it comes back thinner, so use for milk shakes, smoothies and sauces. The same goes for yogurt, cream and crème freish – they split and the structure weakens but can be pureed in to sauces.
Do you know what (Cold peas aren’t hot!) – you can even freeze jams, marmalades, curds and pickles – bag, defrost and use in manageable amounts.
Eggs last for a long time, in the old days we used to put them in water and if they floated they were off – they can be pickled or boiled and frozen (for use in egg mayo or fish pie), or use as omelette toppers for stir fry’s and rice dishes. Bound in to burgers and meat balls, whooped in to fritters to use up other vegetables. Egg dishes are endless – –
Did you know ripe bananas make lovely ice-cream, just MUSH and freeze – – there its ready.
Banana skins get rid of verruca’s – EWWWW – Some animals eat banana skins, my Geese do! (they don’t have any foot problems)
Grapes are lovely frozen – served on a cheese board, it’s all the rage. (As are other berry’s – I like popping frozen blueberry’s)
In fact, I use up all my old-er fruits, by chopping and adding to small containers to make the perfect 1 or 2-person smoothie. One bag from the freezer, 1 squishy banana, 1 glass of any juice – – WHIZZ and I’m in healthy mode. The same goes for older Kale, spinach, cucumber, tomatoes, carrots and anything else you can get away with in a smoothie – – mix with fruit and juice and its packed with essential nutrients.
What? I hear you say you haven’t got a Nutri-bullet blender – – use a stick blender, less than £5 from most good supermarkets.
Also, perfect for using up tomatoes in to tomato sauce – plus it can be frozen. Veggies in to soup (same). You can even add ‘use me up milk’ to make your soups creamy without using calorific cream.
Potatoes don’t freeze raw but cooked in to mash – they freeze like a dream. Plus, great for fish cakes, veggie patties and pie toppers. Skin on potatoes are good for wedges, dirty fries, sauté, roasted and baked – all the vitamins are just under the skin so healthier too and NO food waste.
Older soft carrots can be soaked in water to freshen up and hydrate – grate and freeze if you have a glut, good for (healthy) hiding in to bolognaise, casseroles and sauces.
Freeze tomatoes – use up as above. Or blend with chillis, onions, garlic and herbs to make a salsa dip.
Fish – – – goes off fairly quickly and does reek if left – – so buy what you need for that day or the next, any trimmings can be frozen and used up in fish cakes and pies. I gather a good few containers worth and make a lovely fish pie every now and then, adding a bag of prawns for extra yumminess. If you’re not going to use it – dice and freeze it.
If in doubt – Chuck it out!
Roasted meats – – yum yum use ups, go for ‘use up Mondays’ (Lovely HASH), Buffet Fridays (empty your fridge, make up some stuff and help your-self family!). All cooked meat can be frozen once and heated up once. They make lovely curry’s, stews, stir fry’s, pasta dishes, toasties and my favourite ‘minced down’ for croquette’s.
Just don’t leave it in the fridge for too long before you decide to freeze it.
All raw meat can be frozen if slammed in before the ‘Use by’ date (that’s a command) and used up to 3 months later. Defrost overnight in the fridge and enjoy something delicious.
Every month or two have a ‘use up in the freezer weekend’ – – Stock rotation and always old before new.
Bread Crusts can be whizzed in a machine or grated, put in to Tupperware and freeze – shake out when needed, they don’t stick together. Make croutons with stale bread (toss in olive oil and bake for 6 – 8 mins) – they’ll keep for a few days and are great in salads. Toasties are a good way to freshen up bread for a sarnie as is Gypsy Toast (I like mine with berry’s and maple). Two amazing salads using stale bread are the Italian Panzanella and The Middle Eastern Fattoush.
Stale Cake can be crumbled for truffles (melted chocolate, crumbs, ground almonds and a splash of rum) or frozen for toppings. You can even chop ‘em up, sprinkle on some dried fruits, spread on some jam, cover with egg custard and bake for a scrummy ‘Queen of sorts pudding’, enjoy or freeze it!
Marinating and pickling gluts of veggies is a fab way to preserve as is drying and smoking. Cucumber lasts a tad longer sliced, doused in rice wine vinegar and dressed with sesame seeds.
Cucumbers a pain, with its quick to squidge nature. So, give it a little squeeze every now and then make sure you catch it to use it up. Cucumber soups lush. ‘Tagliatelle it’ with a peeler for a salad. Add it to a stir-fry – it’s very Malaysian! Or add it to those bags of fruit for a frozen smoothie – it will hide, you’ll never know, but instead get its nutritional content and juiciness.
‘Best By’ dates are still good for a bit – – like beer, I use mine up in Beer Bread.
500g SR flour
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
330ml – 400ml any beer or cider
- Fork together to mix, splodge on to a loaf tin – bake in a preheated oven 180*c/gas 6 for 35-40 minutes.
Sparkling water is good for flat breads and tempura batter as is lemonade. Some fizzy drinks make good marinades for meat – all that sugar and spice breaks down the fat making it tender and lush.
Lolly pops can be made with tins of fruit, pureed over ripe fruit – mixed with lemonade, milk or juice – – anything goes, it all freezes and is lickable and lasts for a few months in the old freezer – you can even blast it in to smoothies or use as ice cubes.
Pizzas, Quiche, Pies and Stews are all good combination recipes that you can shove just about anything in and get away with it. If it needs using up and sound ok – go for it. Plus pancakes, especially scotch along with battered or breaded (? us ups ?) are good for using up all sorts. You can add chopped ham and cheese to crapes, finely chopped veggies to scotch pancakes. Batter – – any vegetable, even celery (see pic)
I hope I’ve given you some ideas, I could go on but feel it’s getting longer than a strawberry lace – – you get the idea.
Love your freezer, be active, stock rotate, use up old before new and keep an eye on what needs using up first.
If in doubt have a buffet.
Challenge yourself to make something gorgeous from the door busting freezer.
Love Food Hate Waste
That’s a potential stack of £20’s in your pocket a year.
By Zena Leech-Calton ©