Apparently food waste is costing households £470 a year on average. That’s crazy!
I really feel proud of myself if I manage to make a meal from leftover ingredients or food in the cupboard and freezer – almost like it’s cost me nothing. It’s silly, because of course I did buy the food in the first place, but I suppose I’m pleased that I’ve managed to make a meal from stuff that would otherwise be thrown away. And it’s saved me from buying new food in its place – which would cost me additional money.
So I thought I’d share my top tips on avoiding food waste and using up leftovers – this is for a competition called ‘wasteless journey’ by AO.
Only buy the food you need
I think my first point is stop buying excess food in the first place! Go to the supermarket armed with a list of ingredients you need for specific meals so you don’t buy things you aren’t going to use.
Part of this is ensuring you never go food shopping when you’re hungry. Trust me, it’s a disaster and you’ll fill your trolley with crisps and doughnuts. It’s bad for your body and it’s bad for your bank balance.
I spend a bit of time every week planning lunches and dinners I want to eat and then I buy ingredients for those specific meals. I’ll also buy a few other bits to ensure I have some back up foods for the days when I run out of fresh things. For example, Rob and I tend to do a weekly shop and I know that means any fresh fruit, veg, fish or meat I buy won’t last a full week till the following shop. So I plan it so that I eat meals requiring those ingredients first and then will look to using tinned or frozen ingredients (and any leftovers) towards the end of the week.
Ensure you always have these basics at home so you can always base a meal around them or bulk up a meal. The basics I’m talking about include dried pasta, rice, tinned beans, quinoa, bread (stick in the freezer), frozen veg and so on.
Do a regular monthly or quarterly check of the dried and canned food in your cupboards and use up anything that is near its use by/best before date or find a way of using it in your next meals when writing your weekly shopping list.
Use leftovers creatively
There are loads of ways that you can incorporate your leftovers into a meal to avoid food waste.
- Tomatoes: make a salsa (like the one I made in this fillet of bream with salsa recipe)
- Mediterranean vegetables like courgette, peppers, aubergine: use in a pasta dish or curry
- Winter vegetables like leeks, potatoes, carrots: use in a stew – chuck some tinned beans in there too
- Eggs: make an omelette
- Ripe bananas: use ripe bananas instead of flour in biscuits (see recipe below!)
- Berries: put them in the freezer and use them in porridge
- Spinach: use in a green smoothie
If anything is near its use by date, make up a big batch of food using those ingredients and freeze it. For example, if your vegetables won’t last long, cook up a big batch of veggie bolognese/lasagne/curry and put whatever you don’t eat in the freezer. Get it out on days where you don’t have much time to cook!
Don’t forget that milk, bread, meat and fish can be frozen.
The following recipe is a great new one I’ve learned courtesy of Deliciously Ella and I love that it uses up ripe bananas. To be honest, I think brown squishy bananas are probably what we end up throwing away the most in our house so it’s great that I’ve found a way of using them up – and they make something healthy and delicious!
This is based on Deliciously Ella’s Simple Oat Cookies recipe. It’s gluten-free and low FODMAP!
3 ripe bananas
4 tbs peanut butter
4 tbs maple syrup
1 tbs coconut oil, plus extra for greasing
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees
2. Peel the bananas and put them in a big mixing bowl. Mash them all up!
3. Add the peanut butter, maple syrup and coconut oil and mix well
4. Add the oats to the mixture
5. Grease a baking tray with coconut oil and dollop 10 equal sized blobs of the mixture onto the tray. Flatten them as much as possible
6. Bake for 18 minutes until brown
7. Place on a cooling tray and allow to cool
Do you have any top tips for avoiding food waste? I’d love to hear your favourite leftovers recipes.