A couple of years ago, I was coming out of a tube station in south London when I was confronted by an interviewer with a microphone and a cameraman.
Do you use up leftovers or do you throw them away?
I was asked. I’d like to be able to tell you that I launched into an eloquent speech itemising all the food items I have left over and exactly how I make use of them, with a few tempting recipes clearly explained along the way so that TV viewers would be amazed and inspired by my resourcefulness.
Unfortunately, though, my mind went completely blank and I just mumbled some nonsense which had no chance of ever being broadcast. Which was a shame because, as I later found out, this had been my big chance to make an impression on BBC News! And, more to the point, I DO consistently use my leftovers and rarely throw food away.
I was born into a generation which still carried out repairs rather than buying new and which didn’t believe in wasting anything. What’s more, although most people in the west have more food than they need, everything we know about global warming and the Earth’s rising population tells us that there has never been a more important time to use resources carefully and to waste nothing. And on a more personal level, the average family in the UK throws away £60 worth of food every month – money that could be spent more wisely.
These are my top ideas for not wasting food:
1. Plan meals before you shop and don’t buy more perishable items than you will need.
2. Check the Eat before dates on all your shopping and put items you won’t eat yet in the freezer.
3. When you plan meals, look at the dates on perishable items and ensure that you eat those with the earliest dates first.
4. If you know you won’t eat a whole loaf of bread or box of cakes, put them in the freezer and take out a few slices or cakes as you need them.
5. If fruit or vegetables are starting to deteriorate, eat the items that can’t be cooked or frozen first. Then either cut them up and freeze them or cook them, because cooking them will extend their life by about three days.
6. And here’s how to use leftovers:
• Meal portions can be frozen or used as lunch the following day.
• Leftover bread can be used in bread pudding or bread and butter pudding or summer fruit pudding. Or it can be cut into squares, dried out in the oven and added as croutons to soups and salads. Or put in the food processor to make breadcrumbs.
• Leftover cake (sponge type) can be used in trifles.
• Soft fruit can be used in smoothies or stewed. It can also be used in cakes: banana loaf or apple cake, for instance. And a glut of fruit can be used to make jam.
• Leftover cooked vegetables can be turned into soups, or used in omelettes and frittatas. They can also be added to the following day’s dinner in dishes such as shepherd’s pie, curries and stews. Some cooked veg are also nice in salads.
• Leftover rice or pasta can be eaten cold in salads or reheated for dinners.(Ensure that leftover rice is refrigerated promptly then eaten the next day.)
And a final tip: resist the temptation to get a take-away when you arrive home tired from work. Home cooked is better for you, tastes better and it’s cheaper. What’s more, cooking is therapeutic!
Further ideas on preventing waste can be found at:
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