Thursday, December 13, 2007
Posted by Abby
The recently launched Love Food, Hate Waste website reminded me that here in the UK, a third of the food we buy ends up being thrown away. Most of this is food that can be eaten, not just banana skins and tea bags.
For every three bags of food we carry home, we are effectively dropping one straight into the bin. As well as being a waste of money this is also a huge waste of resources.
As we approach Christmas, a time when many of us are buying more food than usual, it is particularly important that we think about how to ensure that we are not wasting food
Plan your meals and shop accordingly
Normally, keeping your cupboard and fridge stocked with the basics, and knowing what is in them and your freezer, is the best way to ensure that you can pull a meal together. Keeping an eye on best before dates and checking how your fruit and vegetables are every few days so you can use them up when they are at their freshest and ripest is also critical. For many of us there is no need for strict menu-planning.
However, during the festive season, when we often want to eat particular foods on particular days, planning meals becomes really important, both to ensure we shop for what we need but also to avoid waste.
Make a timetable and mark in the special meals that you want to cook and eat. Think about which of these are likely to result in leftovers and then work out how you can use these leftovers to make other dishes, not forgetting smaller meals when a sandwich or bowl of soup will be more than enough.
If you have gaps in your menu planner slot some of these in. If there aren’t enough gaps, think about which leftovers can be frozen for use another day. For example, if you are having turkey on Christmas Day you can freeze the carcass to make stock or, if you have the time, make and freeze the stock itself.
When you are shopping, obviously you’ll want to have some treats to hand for snacking on but don’t go over the top. So many festive meals are large and rich and those extra cakes, chocolates or nuts that you buy really aren’t going to get eaten. Or if they are it is just because they were there which is always a waste of calories!
Get your portion sizes right
When planning special meals it is so easy to get carried away. If you are anything like me, you write a list of everything that you traditionally have, add on a few of your new favourites and then an extra something, “just in case.”
Try and restrain yourself! If there are only two of you, that festive roast really doesn’t need six different vegetable accompaniments plus two types of potato dish as well as the usual trimmings of pigs in blankets, stuffing, bread sauce and Yorkshire puddings! Or if you can’t bear to cut back on the number of dishes, make smaller portions, particularly of those things that won’t freeze/work well as leftovers.
Think about eating your meals over an extended period of time. A mid-morning Christmas glass of something celebratory would be lovely with smoked salmon blinis, taking away the need to do a more formal starter. Similarly, your choice of pudding can easily be eaten an hour of two after your main course. This approach also helps your body digest the larger-than-usual amounts of food that many of us will be eating.
Think about smaller, lighter meals for the days when you’ll have already overindulged. Simple vegetable soups – using up some of those extra veggies you inevitably bought – are a lifesaver. And if you do cook too much of anything, portion it up and put it in the freezer.
Think about storage
Think about how you can store your food so that it lasts as long as possible. The Love Food, Hate Waste has some great tips about this as well as how to rescue foods that are becoming past their best.
It’s also important to be realistic about how much space you have and what space is needed for the festive food that you are planning to buy. If you have a garage think about using this for keeping drinks and vegetables cool, only bringing them in when you need them.
Fridges and freezers become particularly pressured at this time of year, so have a sort out and remove any items that are out of date or really don’t need to be in there. Using up almost empty jars can clear lots of valuable space. This weekend is a good time to go through your freezer and plan a few meals for next week that will use up large bulky items that could be cleared to make space.
And when you’ve done all of that, it’s time to think about how your saved pennies can be put to better use…
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This Post was written by abby from eat the right stuff