Sunday, May 11, 2008

Love food, hate waste!

I was sent an email this week about the love food hate waste campaign and I definitely had a little twinge of conscience. I think I’m pretty good about avoiding food waste, I try not to be suckered into the buy one get one free offers unless I really think I can use the second before it dies on me, I consider the use by dates when I buy items and when practically I will be consuming them and all my leftover food goes into the green bin. But I could do more, for example, really my green bin should only contain egg shells, vegetables peelings and the odd exhausted tea bag. It shouldn’t have whole slices of bread, forgotten rashers of bacon and strangely green furry bits of chicken thigh. I hang my head in shame; I guess the rule should be - if I buy it to eat it, I should actually eat it – otherwise I could cut out the middle man and chuck a few pounds straight into the bin. And then of course the conundrum would be which container to put it in, could it go in the black box with the bottles and cans? If I just decide it’s a fiver, does that go with the paper in the blue bag or the white bag for the plastic bottles, foil and card? The answer is that I should pay attention to the love food hate waste five sure fire ways to save money off the weekly food bill and then I don’t have to throw away any money. I can't promise to improve the lot of the 2.8 million tomatoes we throw away every day, but at least I can promise not to add to the discarded tomato heap, I just won't ever buy any!

1. Get familiar with you fridge & friendly with your freezer

This is where my best intentions occasionally flounder, I have definite plans to concoct greatness from some well chosen items and then I eat out or work late or horror of horrors get attracted to something more sparkly on the way home and eat that instead and let other things expire in my fridge.

2. Storecupboard savvy

I probably fare a little better here but there is the perennial habit of bulk buying exotic whatnots when I am abroad or lured into purchasing a small basil mustard mountain at a food show and then letting them languish in the back of the cupboard until a decade has passed. So I guess a regular spring clean should be in operation so a) I don’t just stockpile needlessly and b) just as important I don’t run out of the critical stuff.

3. Carb control

Apparently this is a common offence and we throw away 7 million slices of bread and 5.1 million potatoes every day. And yes I can be accused of the bread crime, it is hard to believe for a well-known bread monster but I don’t generally get through a loaf before it’s growing some exciting new culture. The first problem is that I don’t really like the crusts, but then M&S do a half loaf that doesn’t have the two crusts so I should confine my loaf buying habits to just that particular one. And then as sometimes I don't really want all that bread, I should always (rather than occasionally) spilt the loaf in half and freeze some for toasting later. It is helpful when you can buy one or two potatoes to whip up a little mash or a small handful of Jersey Royals for a potato salad but loaves are more 'one size fits all'.

4. Lovely leftovers

I’ve mentioned on various occasions that I enjoy the challenge of revitalising some jewels from a previous meal and repurpose the remainder into a new delight. For example my recent foray into risotto resurrecting, my joy at a well turned bubble and squeak and turning some delicious remnants into an oeuf en cocotte or scrambled eggs. But occasionally you look at the remains and wonder if you should just put them out of their misery, so again I need to take a leaf out of Rose Prince's fabulous new book and always recycle.

5. It pays to plan!

I do occasionally stick a list of the items in my latest Ocado order and an eat-by-date to the fridge to remind myself of what lies within, but still get the odd surprise when I find an inadvertently unopened packet of salad complete with a brown sludgy liquid lurking at the back of my fridge so I must do better!

With all these tips in mind I was determined not to succumb to shiny new food today but see if I could conjure up a feast from a few sad pieces. Firstly the question of the salad, as it was indeed questionable. But with a new found zeal I washed it thoroughly and span it in the salad spinner until it was positively dizzy and it did seem to bring it back from the brink. I had some stems of purple sprouting broccoli remaining and hoped they could join the party but they were way too furry and no amount of mouth to mouth resuscitation would persuade me to eat them - so straight in the green bin. They were a few remaining rashers of smoky bacon left after the canapés on horseback the other night so they got snipped into a a frying pan. A few cubes of slightly over-mature Cheddar and a golden yolk oozing over the Balsamic drizzled resurrected lamb's lettuce later and a new dish was born!

And rather dashing did it look on my new RE-found objects cutlery-printed linen table mats. It seemed very appropriate as re-found specialise in REmarkable, REcycled, REscued and REstored objects which seem entirely in keeping with the theme of today's salvaged salad.

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