By Elena Leeming
You hear words food waste a lot more now compared with even 10 years ago. Whether you are watching a cooking or food-related show or browsing social media, chances are the words will come up at least once. After a few months, you start wondering what, how and why is this such a big issue now globally. In the UK, we waste around 70% of the food we buy. Whether you fall into this statistic or not, there are things we can all do to help reduce waste. Benefits? Less rubbish, less money spent on food and more on the things you love.
I grew around a very frugal grandmother and great-grandmother (yes, lucky!). Both of them were naturally good at cooking and run a household like a clockwork. They did the shopping list, shopped in few different places, cooked in bulk for few days in advance, froze meals, veg, fruit and herbs, preserved veg, made conserved (my favourite with apricots and kernels) not to mention grew 90% of the veg on the plot they owned outside the city.
The word waste was only mentioned while talking to others and urging them not to waste something (even time!). I picked up some useful tips that serve me to this day and also managed to come up with my own ways over the years. All of these benefits my family and anyone else who likes to get better at reducing waste. So let me share a few with you.
Whenever I see sandwiches without bread crust I go why, why would you do it? Fussy eaters you say? Well, its the habit they picked up somewhere and can be unlearned. You may not think this, but it is a food waste right there unless you have a good way to use up those bits. If you keep giving in (after all it may become your habit as well as theirs) then we are continuing the food waste into another generation.
This applies to apples too. Why peal apples for an apple pie? My grandma did a quick and easy apple pie everyone loved and no one ever complained about apple peel…Save time, waste less.
Stop Bread from Going Off
If you have bought excess bread try freezing some and use for toast. If the bread is going dry, slice it up to make croutons, dry in the oven or elsewhere. Store in the air-tight container and add to stews, soups and caesar salad.
You probably know that ends of spring onions, lettuce and celery can be put in a cup of water to grow again? Well, you can do the same with onions and other salad. Potatoes gave roots? If you have a bit of garden or patio space, you can plant them straight into the ground or grow them in a bag of soil. Growing your own veg is great, but replanting something that would end up in waste and see it come again is even more fulfilling. Plus it saves you pennies off the shop in a few weeks or who knows…even an endless supply of greens! Full list of what you can re-grow with nothing but the water here.
Used teabags, for example, make a great fertilizer. My granddad had a huge bin at the back of the summer house where he would put all the veg bits and tea bags used as fertilizer.
I think they almost had no rubbish other than paper for recycling.
I never shy away from reduced shelves in any supermarket or shop, in fact, I actively look for something I could use. I hate to think it would go to waste! Back when my grandma shopped they did not have big supermarkets, let alone yellow labels. She would so love all the bargains!
Follow Dad’s Delicious Dinners for inspirations on this subject. He rocks the under 5-pound family dinner ideas that involve a lot of reduced foods!
I get regular slices of cakes and veg from my neighbour. There are only 2 of them next door as kids flew the nest and if they don’t eat all the cake they make or eat all the courgettes from the garden, they drop it off to us. I am always happy to take it in. Have something spare or going off? Offer it to someone.
You can use apps like Olio that can help you with this in your city/town/community. Every little counts and food waste is something that is caused by all of us after all!
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