I hate throwing food away. Passionately! To me it feels exactly as though I am throwing money in the bin, and that feels so very wrong. The thing is though, even though I hate it, I was still finding that every week I would throw away more and more food. Vegetables on the turn, bread turning mouldy, chicken we’d forgotten to eat. The list went on and on. It was even worse when we were moving house and I realised I had to empty the freezer. 3 cartons of ice cream, two bags of broccoli, ostrich steaks (just why??) plus an assortment of almost finished bags of all sorts. It just felt criminal. I knew that I had to figure out how to waste less food and make the most of what we had!
The biggest issue I came across was the difficulty in cooking for 4 people. It had been 2 of us for such a long time and I knew how to cook for 2. Suddenly though we had a 3 and 5 year old in the house too, and I literally had no idea how much they would (or in most cases wouldn’t) eat! This was definitely one expense of adoption that I just hadn’t expected!
So, I was determined that, in our new house, I would work out how to waste less food, make better choices and hopefully reduce some stress. And I’m pleased as punch to say I have managed it! Well, the thing is, I’ve had a little help. See the new house only has a small fridge. And when I say small, I mean small!! Like teeny weeny. Titchy. Literally no room! This has definitely helped my resolution. Here are my tips to help you waste less food.
1. Before you go and buy your next weekly shop, first go and look into the fridge/freezer. What do you already have? It can be so easy to overlook the half bag of frozen broccoli but don’t! Think about how you can use it in your next week’s shop. I’ve added vegetables to all sorts of different meals and it’s turned out pretty well. We’ve had broccoli in lasagne and bolognese, onions in literally everything and sweetcorn in shepherd’s pie. I’ve even been known to do a pasty and add loads of left over and frozen veg into that.
2. Think outside of the box during the week. The end of a week can be a pretty dire time, food wise, if you don’t have loads of food sitting in the fridge. The kids are starving and all you can find is a can of baked beans and some cheese. What on earth to do with that? Well, pretty much everything! Tonight’s dinner was pasta, baked beans and cheese – so cheesy bean pasta was served. The kids loved it – in fact what’s not to love? You’ll be surprised what you can make from 2 potatoes, a handful of carrots and some onions if you see what other store cupboard ingredients you have.
3. Use your freezer! Simple eh! The fact is, you can freeze pretty much anything. Bread looking like it might be about to turn? Freeze it! Left over soup? Freeze it! Vegetables threatening to go off? Cook and freeze them! There are so little things you can’t freeze and it’ll mean you will always have something in the freezer for those end of the week days before the proper shop!
4. Get a great cookbook. Before you say anything, bear with me here! I know that you are a busy person, with lots going on – and I know you don’t have time to faff around with complicated recipes! I know that the kids are pretty fussy and won’t want to eat fancy food every night (or any night). Really you just need good food on the table as soon as possible with as little fuss as possible. I know because I live it. So my recommendation is Delia Smith’s How To Cheat At Cooking. It’s brilliant! Seriously! I can throw together a cottage pie in less time than it takes to write this post all because of frozen mash. It was a genuine life changer for me! This way I buy only the food I need, create great recipes without 200 different ingredients, and save time as well as food.
5. Simplify. I guess this links to number 4, but also it was a lesson I learnt far too late on with the kids. I was spending a lot of the week trying to give them meals which were interesting, fun, full of vegetables and would increase their repertoire. Just why? It was stressing me out more than anything, so I took a leaf out of my childhood, and simplified the kids food. I now give them beans on toast, omelette’s, salads, soup and boiled eggs. Easy, quick food, which is simple to store and lasts a long time in a cupboard. Happy kids, much much less waste!
6. If all else fails ….buy a smaller fridge. Tongue in cheek perhaps, but since having my teeny tiny fridge, I have had to be much more aware of what we have, what I buy and what I need to use up before I buy more.
I’d love to know what tips you have to waste less food. Do you do batch cooking on a Sunday to help during the week or have a specific food order so you don’t overbuy? Any other tips will be hugely appreciated!