I know I haven't blogged for a while, but my efforts to stop wasting food continue!
It's been really interesting. The amount of food that we throw out has decreased dramatically. hardly anything is wasted anymore which is great and our shopping bills are much lower too. I think I have been more creative and haven't felt hard done by as I thought that I might without being able to pop out and buy new ingredients on a whim.
Things I have learned are:
1. planning is essential. You need to look at a whole week of meals, or at least a few days, then plan them to make sure that ingredients are duplicated but not meals. I find because I am cooking for two in the main, often you can't buy small amounts of stuff for just one meal, especially in supermarkets so you need to find two meals which use some of the same things but which taste different.
2. Because of this you have to be MORE not less creative. believe me, using a whole savoy cabbage between two people before it goes off and without boring yourself silly is tricky! But I have managed to make it into; a pasta sauce, a soup, a baked dish, a coleslaw type salad.
3. Keep more things in the fridge. Fruits in particular last a lot longer in the fridge (not bananas though, they go weird and black!). Also, if you have soft herbs and you wash and dry them and put them in zip lock plastic bags and get as much air out as possible, they last for ages. Same goes for salad leaves and things like chard and spinach.
4. always always look in your cupboards before shopping. When I did my inventory at the beginning of the experiment I had 5 bags of self raising flour. Presumably because each time I shopped I thought I needed it and bought more. My inner bakers was obviously on overdrive!
5. Following on from that, keep cupboards relatively tidy. You can't tell if you have 5 bags of self raising flour if your dry goods cupboard looks like Armageddon!
6. If you have a random ingredient left over from another meal and don't know what to do with it, go to this website You can enter up to three ingredients you may have to use up and it will spit out recipes for you to try! But BEWARE that you don't pick one that needs you to buy loads of other ingredients - therein madness lies!
7. If you are more budget minded, you naturally lean towards seasonal stuff, which is better for the environment. The more creative you get with something as humble as say swede, the less inclined you feel to buy something more exciting looking that has been flown in from Kenya or somewhere even more far flung.
8. The bin doesn't get as full! For those who get rubbish collections fortnightly rather than weekly, this is a huge bonus as your bin isn't overflowing come bin day. Also, the kitchen bin needs taking out less often which I don't know anyone who enjoys it, so that can only be a good thing!
9. It helps you lose weight! I am much more portion aware now as don't want to have lots of left overs that I struggle to do something with. In doing so and cooking less you end up eating less as there are no 'second helpings' of anything!
10. Having a good store cupboard really helps. If you have lots of basics like different flours, dried whole and ground spices, dried herbs, lentils, pulses, noodles, stock, sauces and flavourings like worcester sauce, tabasco etc, you can make something out of anything! So by always having a good stock of essentials like garlic, olive oil, anchovies packed in oil etc etc you can make a meal from little bits of this and that and it's will always be delicious and well balanced.
So that has been my adventure in reducing waste. I am going to continue, it's not an experiment, it's now a new way of life/ cooking for me. There is still a bit of me that yearns for reckless and wanton purchasing of stuff but having a hard look at the money, time and frankly the world's resources that I was wasting has made me realise that it's no way to run your kitchen.
There is more than enough food in this world for everyone, but we in the west and increasingly in the far east are wasting vast quantities of food and it's just not right. As the world's population grows, food will be scarcer and we are already seeing the impact in predicted wheat and milk shortages.
If we really are throwing away 1/3 of what we buy in this country alone as recent reports in the media suggest, imaging how much food globally is going from field, to shop, to home, to bin without ever being consumed. It's a really sobering thought.