Category Archives: War on waste

My Zero Waste Kitchen – book review

I have said before in this blog how much I dislike the pervading waste culture. We are a throw away society and no longer seem to value our possessions or how much they cost in financial and environmental terms. Easy come, easy go!

This also applies to food. I remember learning about wartime rationing at school. Food was scarce but nobody starved in the UK because nothing was wasted. Now we are guided more by use by and best before dates than commonsense and a lot of perfectly edible food is thrown away with barely a thought.

I am generally careful to avoid waste like this, but I am not perfect and could definitely try harder, so I was delighted to receive a copy of My Zero Waste Kitchen from Dorling Kindersley.

It is a prettily designed, small hardback book and good value at £6.99 I think. The advice given is clear and simple, although probably aimed more for those who have just begun to think about reducing their food waste rather than the seasoned waste free cook.

I like it though – there are a lot of useful tips that I hadn’t come across before, such as the page on eggs. Did you know you could use crushed eggshells as a stain remover or as a calcium supplement? Or that you could revive stale cake by putting it overnight in an airtight container with a slice of bread?

Why not put apple cores and kiwi skins in your smoothie? I am sure they would taste just as nice and add nutrition. I was less convinced about adding banana skins, however, as I think they would be too bitter.

If you want to get maximum value from your lettuce, you can cut off the end and root it in water to start a whole new plant. I have never tried this and I am sceptical, but might give it a go.

The recipes in the book look interesting. I like how a base recipe is presented such as hummus or flapjacks alongside ideas for foods you could add to save wasting them. I will definitely be trying the Waste-not want-not savoury muffins, as they look yummy.

If you want some fresh ideas on how to begin to reduce your family’s food waste, or you want to teach your children more about the subject, then this book will be a great place to begin.

If you decide to buy this book using the link below, I will receive a small commission from Amazon.

The urge to wander

We had a lovely short break away on the south coast. There are still so many places in the UK to explore! On beautiful sunny days such as we had why would anyone feel deprived if they can find the cash for a couple of days at the English seaside instead of the Maldives 😀?

Seriously, I love to travel. There are many places I wish I could afford to go to but there are just as many fabulous areas in the UK that we can easily get to. We need to start a serious savings plan to buy the camper van we have always wanted, then there will be no stopping us. If we are going to manage that we must be even more frugal than usual!

I came back to find I had been sent a copy of Zero Waste Kitchen to review for my frugal bookshelf. It looks right up my street. I hate waste and I think it could give me good ideas for avoiding it and save money at the same time.

The review will follow as soon as o get the chance. The forecast for this weekend is excellent and I want to spend some more time out in the garden. I also want to take a trip to the garden centre as I have some vouchers from my birthday. 

But first the cleaning, then we are meeting up with some of Mr S’s family for lunch. It will be a busy weekend for me! How about you?

Save money, save the planet

I wrote this blog post in my first year of blogging in 2013, when I had no readers! I thought it was worth revisiting 😀.

Happily, lots of things that save you money are also good for the environment. Simply consuming less, wasting less, holding onto things for longer, repairing rather than replacing, buying second-hand, etc, will give you a greener lifestyle. Getting off the treadmill of working more to buy more stuff pays dividends to the state of your bank balance and the planet – not to mention your sanity!. There is so much you can do to get a warm green glow…

Don’t waste food. Plan your week’s meals and then go shopping with a list. Stick to the list!!! Watch your portion sizes too. This will help your waistline as well, so double bubble.

If something stops working get out the manual to see if it is something simple. Look on the Internet to see if there are any suggestions. Get a quote for repair.

Likewise, repair your clothing and get your shoes mended rather than throwing them away.

If you need to replace an expensive item check Freecycle or Freegle first, then the noticeboard at the local shop, eBay, charity furniture shops, etc. If you really need to buy new, look at as many reviews as possible and buy energy saving devices – they are cheaper to run.

If you have a garden, make your own compost. Don’t throw peelings, apple cores, teabags, eggshells, etc in the bin. Mix them with your garden waste and compost them. Save as much as possible from going to landfill.

If you like crafts check out websites like Pinterest. They have a whole section of ideas for recycling and upcycling. I spotted some fabulous planters made from old tyres and also brilliant Christmas tree decorations made from old lightbulbs.


Eat less meat – firstly, it is expensive and, secondly, according to Donnachadh mcCarthy in his excellent and informative book ‘Saving the Planet without Costing the Earth’, one acre of land can produce 30,000lb of carrots but only 250lb of beef. Also 15% of methane, a gas that contributes to global warming, comes from farm animals.

Let your garden be a bit untidy – don’t waste money on chemicals, and create a wildlife friendly garden. Gardening costs very little, is good exercise and a great stress buster.

Grow some of your own food! I can’t afford to buy organic in the shops, but everything from the garden is chemical free. Packets of seeds cost just a few pounds and produce masses of delicious vegetables.

Use vinegar and bicarbonate of soda to clean your house. It is extremely cheap, plus do you really want your home to be full of chemicals?

Buy large containers of washing up and laundry liquid. This produces less plastic waste and usually works out cheaper.

When you need new items for your home, buy second-hand. Most of my furniture, curtains, bedding and rugs has come from the charity shop, eBay and auctions. If you are a creative sort you can shabby chic a solid piece of furniture and make it a work of art.

Forget nasty chemical air ‘fresheners’ and plug ins. You are literally inhaling pollutants! If you want fresh air, open a window.

Insulate your house – check to see if you are eligible for any grants. Your energy supplier should have information on this, or try the Energy Saving Trust.

If you exercise, try to resist the urge to buy energy drinks and bottled water. Invest in a sports bottle and fill it from the tap.

Train your family to turn off lights, PCs, TVs and DVD players. Don’t leave items on standby.

Don’t buy clothes that need to be dry cleaned. This is expensive and the dry cleaning process uses toxic chemicals.

If you like to read, use the library or buy second-hand from the charity shop or online.

If you have a baby check out reusable nappies rather than disposables. This saves so much money!

This one will separate the greenies from the dark greenies! Consider using washable sanitary towels or perhaps a Mooncup instead of tampons.

Keep a scrap paper box. The back of junk mail letters and the envelopes they come in are good for list writing!

Re-use wrapping paper.

Save water – if you are on a water meter this makes financial as well as economic sense. Shower instead of bathing, but put the plug in and use the ‘grey’ water to water your plants in the garden.

If you buy fruit in the supermarket, save the plastic bags it comes in and reuse them as sandwich bags.

Keep your accelerator foot light and save petrol. Boy racers must all live at home with their parents – once they have to pay their own rent and bills they may slow down a bit…

These are just a few ideas. There are so many other things you can do once you start to think about it. I would love to hear your suggestions.

Using it all up! Clearing out the larder

Happy New Year! May 2017 bring you love, health and happiness, with maybe a side of wealth if you are lucky.

Today my no spend January begins in earnest. As well as buying nothing except necessities such as food and petrol, I am aiming for a low spend month even on groceries. To this end I will be making meals using up everything in the fridge, freezer and larder, buying only what I need to make meals out of what we already have. 

Yesterday I cleared out all of the frozen chicken carcasses and bones to make a good stock. I then pulled out a couple of bags of frozen courgettes and all of the slightly wonky veg lurking in the fridge to make a huge pan of soup. This will do us for lunches for the whole week and I have also put about half of it back in the freezer to eat as and when.

I had two bags of apples taking up far too much space in my fridge what also needed using up. They have been there for months and had kept really well but I hadn’t got around to doing anything with them. So I made two big pots of stewed apple which is also now in the freezer. I will take some to work instead of fresh fruit once we have eaten everything in the fruit bowl.

This morning I will be making banana nut loaf as we have 4 bananas past their best as well as plenty of bits left over from Christmas. 

Yesterday I managed to get a great bargain. I have been generally ignoring the sales in preparation for my no spend January but I spotted a pair of lovely leather boots in the Brantano concession in the Co-op where my daughter works. They were reduced from £60 to £40 , which was still too much, but my daughter had a 20% staff discount so I thought they were worth trying on. The lady at the till then pointed out that they had a further 25% off for one day only so I couldn’t resist. When she rang them through she discovered they had been reduced even more so in the end I paid £14.50! Not bad! Good job January hadn’t started so I could justify the spend 😀. I did actually need some more boots as I had to glue the sole back onto my other pair for the second time last week so I don’t think they will last much longer.

We are off to friends for lunch and a nice long dog walk today. It’s so great that we have yet another bank holiday tomorrow and I don’t need to go back to work until Tuesday. 

How are you reducing your food waste? Anything you need to use up?

Not wasting food

I am so enjoying my Christmas break. We have been taking things easy for a change, seeing family and having a good rest – plus eating too much!

I have cleaned out a couple of kitchen cupboards though – that had been the extent of my efforts. I like to go through them all every now and again to remind myself of what is there and make sure we eat anything near its best before date.

We have plenty of food in the house which I do not want to waste. I bought the usual amount of fruit but because there is so much in the way of snacks and unhealthy stuff that it hasn’t been eaten. I will make a big fruit salad tomorrow and then it should go. We are all murmuring about eating too much rubbish so something healthy should go down a treat. 

We don’t have Christmas leftovers here as such as we weren’t here on Christmas Day, otherwise I would be making Christmas soup with it all!

How about you? Are you using it all up?

Sixty years of wedded bliss – plus moving towards less plastic waste

It’s another weekend!! How on earth did that happen? And a busy one to boot – I have  DD2 back from university with her boyfriend and we are all over to my sister’s for a family party to celebrate my parents’ diamond anniversary. Sixty years! I am so proud of them. 
  Family dos are always noisy affairs as I am one of four children, we each have our own kids and they bring along assorted boyfriends as well. We haven’t managed to give my parents any great grandchildren yet but I expect they will arrive at some point!

  I recently blogged about how I was looking for ways to reduce the amount of plastic waste I produce. It feels difficult to achieve when you shop in a supermarket. Everything is wrapped and double wrapped and it’s hard to purchase liquid items in glass bottles and jars these days. One of my followers, Sue, asked if I had heard of Splosh, a company with the genius idea of reducing plastic waste by selling their products as refills.  

I hadn’t so I decided to investigate and get a few products to try. You can initially buy a bottle of, say washing detergent, but you use this bottle again and again by ordering a refills. These come as small soluble concentrated sachets that you mix with water.

I have started with washing up liquid and fabric conditioner. I have yet to use them so a full review will follow!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Using wonky veg, making extra cash and cutting back on plastic waste

It’s all go at Shoestring Cottage! I have been working my way through the veg in the Asda Wonky Box I was given to review and I have to say it has lasted all week easily. It is excellent value at £3.50.  Asda has committed to putting 10,000 boxes into a selection of stores across the country at least once a month. This is currently making the boxes quite rare – I have yet to find one in my local store. Let’s hope they commit a little further! The problem will be, I am guessing, that if they really take off it will affect sales of Asda’s unwonky vegetables! The cure for this is simple – forget about perfection and just sell all of the veg as it comes…

spanish eggs and riceThe first thing I made was Spanish eggs – so easy and really delicious. I chopped a couple of the red onions and fried it up with some garlic and two of the red peppers from the box. I added a tin of tomatoes, a pot of Oxo Herbs & More rosemary and thyme that I picked up really cheaply in Home Bargains, a glug of wine and some salt and pepper. I cooked this up in the pan for 20 minutes then made some wells and dropped a couple of eggs on the mixture. I put the lid on and cooked this gently for 10 minutes then served it with some rice. As it was only me eating that evening I used two eggs, but you could add another couple and this would be a nice supper for two people – I had the leftovers for lunch the following day.

veg from boxWe also had a chicken and vegetable curry, which used more onions and peppers, sausages and  mash, using red onions, potatoes and the cabbage, and carrot and coriander soup, using the carrots. Tonight we will have beef casserole with yellow stickered beef, frozen tomatoes from last year’s harvest and from the wonky box red onions, parsnips and leeks. We will eat this with ‘wonky’ potatoes. We have eaten most of the cucumber in sandwiches and dipped into humus for lunches. The rest of the onions and potatoes will be used next week.

It is definitely worth buying a Wonky Box if you are fortunate enough to come across one.

peace ringI have also started a little Instagram/Facebook shop, selling some nice bits of inexpensive jewellery I managed to source plus the used designer dresses that I have been selling for a while on eBay.  I have also found some very pretty scarves so will add those as soon as they arrive. I sold two pendants the day after I made my page on Facebook, so I was pretty happy! You can find me on Instagram – @janeysboutique and on Facebook with the same name. I don’t expect it to make my fortune, but every little helps!

I am trying to cut the amount of plastic I use. It seems so difficult to avoid, but I am making a start. So far I have switched from butter in a plastic pot to the old fashioned stuff in paper, given up liquid hand soap for bars of soap and gone back to washing powder in a cardboard box. Of course I can recycle plastic containers but it is better to avoid them in the first place!