Maisie’s tips for reducing food waste
I’m taking a break from writing this week in honour of Cattus Green who died last Friday.
However, there will still be some great material on the site as I am excited to be sharing some wonderful guest posts.
Our first post comes from Maisie. Maisie has been one of our regular readers and commenters every since the site was launched and she’s full of tips on how to get the most from our food. This year she and her family have been concentrating on living a green and frugal lifestyle. Maisie and her family put out less than 200 gms of waste per week and she keeps track of their progress over on her ‘Year of greener living‘ website.
One of the main things which are necessary for reducing Food Waste is planning; not just meal planning so you know what to buy, but also planning your shop so as to get the freshest ingredients for those meals, which then means the ingredients are at their best. This could mean a weekly or monthly shop and then freezing the fresh ingredients to retain their nutrients and freshness; or shopping on a daily basis for just what is needed. There are many ways and each family will choose what works best for them.
I personally take a look at our calendar and see if there are any activities which need to be incorporated into the weekly menu plan, and if need be swap days around. Then I look at what meat or fish I have in the freezer (I bulk buy this), and go from there. I also have an organic veg box delivered weekly.
Personally I keep a stocked pantry and freezer so that all meals can be made from what I have in stock and just replenish as used. This way again there is no mad rush to the shops for something for dinner as it is all in hand. Just have to remember to get it from the freezer. I tend to shop weekly for things like dairy and any fresh fruit that is required.
I always plan meals for Sunday through Thursday, then Friday is usually jacket potatoes or toasted sandwiches and Saturday is eat it up/use it up days, unless we have guests or I will make pizza. If there are any leftovers after we have eaten the dinner these are frozen in individual portions so they can be pulled out on Fridays or Saturdays or even hubby can take them for a hot lunch at work. Sometimes I deliberately cook an extra portion just for this purpose for hubby.
A typical week for us would be:
- Sunday – roast
- Monday – stir-fry or curry (using up leftovers from the roast)
- Tuesday - casserole
- Wednesday – fish
- Thursday – pasta dish
Get the family involved
We as a family sat down and came up with a list of approx 30 dishes that we all like so those are what is made, usually on a 6 week rotation.
I use my slow cooker a lot, especially on days where the family need to be back out the door fairly quickly; as this means that dinner is cooked during the day and often I just need to add some boiled or mashed potatoes or some rice to whatever is in there and dinner is served.
If you only buy what is on your list after working out your meal plan there should be no wastage as items haven’t been bought on a whim. This in turn will also help to reduce your grocery budget, as food is not being bought and then just thrown out, basically throwing money out.
Obviously this is a lot easier if all family members are on board with the idea.
If after having done your grocery shop you take a little time to put things away in meal sized portions, this will also eliminate some waste as you will only be cooking the exact amount required. Of course if you prefer to cook in big batches then freeze the other meals worth for future use then this will also work, but discipline comes into this in making sure that if 3 meals worth are cooked 2 are frozen.
Another area where food wastage can be cut down is batch cooking and freezing things like cakes. I usually bake 2 or 3 lots of cakes but then freeze them and just get out 6 fairy cakes at a time or 6 slices of slab cake, this again means that freshness is kept and wastage is kept to a minimum.
As I said at the beginning it is all about planning, and that also means using your time wisely.
A few years ago I got talking to a chef and she said that the only fresh things she ever had in her household fridge was milk and cheese, she bought everything else either fresh for that days use or had bulk bought and frozen it.
Tags: food waste