Regular readers will know that I am always looking for ways to reduce food waste. Wasting perfectly good food is like tipping your wages in the bin! It saves money when you reduce food waste. It also seems immoral to chuck perfectly edible items away when so many people don’t have enough to eat.
In addition, there are the environmental consequences. Much food waste ends up in landfill and produces methane gas. It is a crazy waste of our resources to throw away food when you think of the energy expended growing, packaging and transporting it.
Here are some of the steps we take to reduce food waste at Shoestring Cottage.
If you don’t eat much bread, keep it in the freezer and defrost slices as you need them. We only get through a sliced loaf a week so this works for us.
Make croutons and breadcrumbs out of stale bread and crusts. Toast bread that’s a bit stale. Revive day old baguettes in the oven. Make French toast by dipping in beaten egg and frying (this is a good way to use up eggs too!)
Make bread pudding! My favourite recipe for this can be found in this post.
Store your veg correctly. Keep spuds in a cool dark place. However you feel about plastic, I feel that vegetables store best in plastic wrap. If you buy items loose, you could put them into plastic storage boxes with lids so they keep their crunch longer. However, mushrooms are best kept in a paper bag to avoid them going slimy.
Add chopped spring onion tops to mashed potatoes or mix with cheese to fill a jacket spud.
Save your cauliflower, broccoli, carrot and cabbage trimmings to add to soups or make stock.
If you are on your own or have a small family, buying frozen rather than fresh can be a good option. We have started buying frozen peppers, for example.
Freeze leftover veg to thicken soups and stews. Mashed potato is great for this.
I also throw leftover salad items into my soups. No one notices a bit of limp lettuce when it is whizzed up!
Fresh herbs – if you can’t use them in time, try finely chopping them and freezing them with a little water in ice cube trays. You can pop a couple into your recipes as required.
If you don’t use a whole lemon or lime in one go, freeze it in segments to pop straight into your G&T (or sparkling water if you are better behaved). You could also freeze the juice in ice cube trays for when you need it in a recipe.
Dry citrus peels for baking. Chop them up and spread them onto a baking sheet, then put them in a really low oven – about 80 degrees centigrade for around 2 hours. Allow them to cool completely before storing them in a glass container.
Chop up bananas and freeze to use in cakes and smoothies. We always seem to have the odd black banana. I wait until I have 3 or 4 then make banana loaf.
You can freeze chopped bananas for a couple of hours and then put through a food processor for an easy vegan ‘ice cream’.
Cook up wrinkly apples with a little sugar for compotes. These also freeze well. The can be used for crumbles or pies. I also enjoy them with custard or yogurt.
Keep fruit in fridge, especially in the summer. It lasts much longer.
If you have a glut of fruit, make some jam or jelly. There are lots of recipes online. I swear by my ancient copy of the Home Preservation of Fruit and Vegetables. I am amazed to find this is still available on Amazon new, but you might be able to pick up a second hand copy. As well as jams, it gives clear instructions on pickling and freezing and is a bit of a gem, in my view (this is my affiliate link).
You can refreeze meat if it has been frozen then cooked. However, make sure it is defrosted thoroughly before use and reheat thoroughly. The leftovers from your Sunday roasts are ideal for this.
You can use it in curries, pasta dishes, soups and casseroles.
Leftover rice and pasta are great to thicken soups and stews.
Put day old doughnuts in the microwave for 20 seconds to revive them.
Omelettes and quiches are good for using up all kinds of cooked veg, ham, bacon and hard cheeses too.
Risottos are also perfect for using things up. You can chuck in cooked meat, vegetables and herbs.
So many things can be frozen. For example, you can freeze leftover wine for cooking. Hard cheeses can also be frozen. It’s a good idea to grate them first for ease of use.
There is some very good advice on how to safely store food on the NHS website. You might also like to read my post How to Prevent Food Waste – and save money too, about getting organised to reduce food waste.
How do you use up all the odds and ends?