At least once a week I find myself chucking something out of the fridge that’s gone off. A bit of left-over coleslaw, a limp courgette, a forgotten-about-mouldy-stuck-at-the-back bag of salad leaves (I KNOW that’s not just me)… and every time, I feel guilty.
Guilty that I didn’t eat it, guilty that I forgot about it, guilty that there are so many in this country that don’t have enough food and guilty that I’m contributing to the ever-growing pile of food waste that this country generates. And it’s a very, very big pile.
Each person in the UK throws away the equivalent of around two and a half meals every week. That’s shocking.
AND every day in UK homes we throw away the equivalent of approximately:
5.8 million whole potatoes
1.4 million whole bananas
1.5 million whole tomatoes
I find this absolutely MIND. BOGGLING.
The last time I threw out food, was just before I went on holiday, and I made a silent promise to myself to never do it again. It’s just not ok. And all it requires is for me to be a bit more mindful about what food I buy and when I buy it, and what I can do with it instead of chucking it.
And you would be surprised at what you can create with a couple of old bananas and an end of a cucumber.
I am working with the super duper fantastic folk at Love Food Hate Waste who are re-educating the good people of the UK, one leftover roast potato at a time. They’re on a mission to get peoples’ brains clicking a little differently when it comes to food waste – saving food actually saves money (four flatmates living together could actually save up to £60 a month!) It helps to slow down global warming and deforestation, AND it means less packaging waste too (another huge gripe of mine).
Essentially, if we all make a few little changes and start using up all the food we buy, we can actually make a colossal difference.
When I was at uni living in halls, the food people bought was (erm) eclectic. Some people appeared to be living solely on toast and pasta and others, somehow, had spare cash to buy the odd bit of Port Salut, French bread and wine. (There was always wine).
We had a weekly tradition of an Everything Out Lunch (or dinner) which essentially meant that you would empty out your fridge and cupboards, put everything onto the table that needed to be eaten. We’d invite friends from neighbouring halls, who’d also bring their leftovers and half blocks of cheese etc and all of a sudden we’d be dining like kings with our pot luck Everything Out Dinner. It was amazing and where I discovered the most dreadful Norwegian brown cheese. (Which is apparently loved by all Norwegians). (I still can’t eat it).
I do the same now when I go on a self-catering holiday. Every day we empty the fridge and fill the table with our random and mysterious local shop discoveries, and it means that everything gets eaten. Every. Single. Thing.
The only reason, I think, that I don’t do it at home here in London, is sheer bad habit. I’m lazy. And I’m out and about a lot in the city during the days. And I forget. So, I have pledged to myself for this to stop and I am resurrecting Everything Out Brekky/Lunch/Dinner at least once a week at home, which I am hugely looking forward to! Bring on the crazy combos! It going to be my new London tradition.
If you’re at uni now, you should definitely introduce this to your friends and give it a whirl. It’s social, it’s money saving AND you may get to try something revolting, like I did :)
There are always a few stragglers in my fridge, and I suspect you have them too… but before you chuck these lonely foods out, see if you can come up with a cunning plan to use them in another way. For example, I often have a few loose berries knocking about – I chop them up and pop them in ice cubes! If I’ve got a leftover lemon, I stick it in the freezer to grate over salads/curries/whatever I fancy – this might be my favourite foodie tip ever. Overripe fruit can be whizzed into a smoothie, un-crunchy celery can be chucked into a soup and if you find any other limp veg, pop them into a bowl of cold water and they’ll most likely crisp up again. (They’re usually only limp because of lack of moisture).
Finding new recipes to use up fridge stragglers has also been a bit of a game changer for me. I so often find myself with brown bananas, or half a cucumber… so at the bottom of this post are two recipes that take care of those two culprits!
Come on team, we need to pull together on this one and just do better.
Let’s reduce our waste, switch our minds into the No Waste Gear and take a leaf out of my grandpa’s book, who used to say to me when I was small and we were having dinner:
“Take all you want. But eat all you take”
Clever chap, my grandpa.
EASY PEASY BANANA BREAD
100g butter, softened
170g caster sugar
2 mashed bananas
225g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp milk
Lightly grease a loaf tin and line with baking paper. Put all the ingredients into a bowl and beat for a couple of minutes, until all mixed together.
Spoon the mixture into the tin and smooth. Bake for about 1 hour at 180°C, until risen and golden.
Leave to cool and devour as soon as possible.
CUCUMBER, LIME & MINT ICE POPS
1 medium cucumber, peeled & chopped
2 limes, freshly squeezed
10 mint leaves
1 cup water
In a pan dissolve the sugar in the water over a low heat.
Blitz the cucumber, lime juice, mint leaves, and sugar water in a blender until smooth.
Pour into your lolly moulds and freeze.
For party lollies, you can add a teaspoon of tequila or rum to each popsicle before freezing. Mojito popsicles a-go-go!
This post is sponsored by Love For Hate Waste and all thoughts and opinions are my own. This is something I care deeply about and I’m hoping this post will go some way in spreading the very important message, that it’s time to stop wasting food.