zero waste week day 5 – breakfast and meal planning

Filed in Blog by on January 30, 2009 17 Comments
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cherriesBreakfast wasn’t difficult this morning. Little Miss Green said she wasn’t hungry and didn’t want anything.

Now I’m a bit of an old fashioned bird when it comes to breakfast. If she’s ill I feel not eating is the best thing, to let the body put its energy into healing rather than digesting, but if she’s well then breakfast is the most important meal of the day as far as I’m concerned.

I told her to choose some fruit and she choose an apple and some cherries. This week we called into a local town where they had an amazing green grocers. I’m going to go back there just to take a photograph. Virtually everything was sold loose and items were presented in wooden crates and wicker baskets. It made your mouth water just to see everything.

I’ve had a look in the fridge this morning and it’s a bit like the five loaves and two fishes in there. Just as I think there can’t possibly be anything else to use up, more food appears. There are assorted oddments including some salmon, cooked rice, a bit of curry sauce, some cooked lentils and black eye beans…… I reckon we can eat for the rest of the week!

While I was waiting for some rice to come to the boil last night I chopped some potatoes and carrots. They’ve been sitting in a bowl of cold water over night for use today. One meal today will invariably consist of mashed potato and vegetables. I might give Little Miss Green a treat and serve that with fish fingers. She loves fish fingers and fortunately they come just in a cardboard box – no waste!

We also have heaps of eggs. Two friends have donated us some beautiful offerings,  and poached egg on toast is always well received at Chez Green. Lunch needs to be quick; we have a busy morning and need to be out of the house early afternoon, but I feel completely prepared for the “I’m hungry” moments that will be sure to pop up at some point today.

What about you – what has been the best meal you’ve ever created from leftovers?

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About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (17)

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  1. Mrs Jackson says:

    Hi Mrs Green
    It does feel odd to me when I think about this as I never consider myself having leftovers, except after Sunday lunch and that’s always gone by the evening. I am hopeless at meal planning but buy basic things and instead just make what meals I can with the things we have – considering what needs using up first. It’s the same thing I suppose just with a different perspective of it.
    For example today will do something like shepherds pie as I need to use up my vegetables.

  2. Katy says:

    I’m also generally a no-leftovers person. Hubby and I both eat what’s on our plate, having cooked a moderate, healthy sized portion. If we cooked more, we’d just eat more! I try to watch what I eat quite carefully (see previous statement 🙂 so I am used to weighing things and know what a portion is.

    This week I have had a few part-used ingredients that I’ve subbed in to planned meals – half a butternut squash from when the only ones I could buy were too big, for example – that went into my “stroganoffy” thing last night instead of having it with potatoes or rice. But “leftovers” as in cooked things that weren’t eaten… foreign concept in our house, sorry! 🙂

  3. John Costigane says:

    @Katy: I am the same, Katy. However whole chicken/turkey roasts always have “leftovers” from cooking. Finding good recipes for the unused meat etc is very worthwhile.

  4. Sarah says:

    We had poached eggs and toast for lunch yesterday! Fresh eggs from our hens, who have just started laying again.

  5. Kris says:

    Hiya, we’re another house that normally does one-meal portions, though roast chicken normally goes into sandwiches, for nibbles and into another meal (chucked into pasta or curry).

    I’ve had a funny old morning which included a free breakfast, and a wander along the excruciatingly cold Farmer’s Market – but worth it as always. I find I am largely zero waste there most times, but did make one exception for meat from my favourite supplier. (I had intended to ask if that’s the only means of packaging they’d consider – but it was so flaming cold I didn’t – apologies all!) Just before heading out of town, I remembered that I could do with some shoelaces as mine are thinning alarmingly. I headed into Schoon, thinking that if they only sold vacuum-packed ones I’d leave it and keep looking for ones with a bit of paper round only to be delighted to see a basket of entirely naked shoelaces, neatly baled into pairs.
    Then Waitrose where I bought lamb pieces, bacon and cheese in my own tubs, though the cheese does have a small plastic sheet to tuck it in. They also had very appetising new potatoes loose, and half price loose grapes.

  6. Mrs Green says:

    @Mrs Jackson and @Katy: and
    @John Costigane: I love hearing how different people tackle this issue. It sounds like you have portion control down to a fine art in your households. In some ways I quite LIKE having leftovers because it means an easier couple of days meal prep. The downside is if things change (say someone is ill and doesn’t have an appetite) you run the risk of food waste.
    I understand that for some, having leftovers is just temptation that is best avoided 😀

    @Sarah: That sounds lovely Sarah. Some of the best meals are simple and quick as long as they begin with the best ingredients. LMG has just had scrambled eggs for tea, courtesy of one of our friends 🙂

    @Kris: Another excellent shopping trip for you, Kris. Good news on the laces.

  7. Sandra Jones says:

    My most recent leftover favorite is to add leftover lentils or beans of any type into turkey burgers. We have a fairly cheap source of ground turkey, so we end up having burgers quite often when we are rushed. My husband had made a lovely, spicy, split pea soup one day and there was a small amount left. It was nice and thick and not enough for a meal, so into the turkey it went. Made it feed an extra person, kept it healthy, inexpensive, and it was prettier than plain burgers. I just discovered your website today, and I can see that I will become a regular visitor. It is approaching 1:00 PM here and I think it is almost time to go to the kitchen and see if there are any leftovers for a mid-day meal. Great site. Thanks for sharing with the rest of the world!

  8. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Sandra, welcome to the site; it’s always lovely to see a new face.
    Incorporating beans and lentils with meat really helps to stretch things further and adds some valuable nutrition too. It can be great to do this when using a slow cooker with cheaper cuts of meat.
    I hope your mid-day meal was good and look forward to seeing more of your comments. I take it you are in the US?

  9. rosemary fitzpatrick says:

    Eating cherries in UK in January? Yes to zero waste but no to food miles. English apples, yes, yes.

  10. Sandra Jones says:

    Hello again, Mrs. Green. You are correct, I am in the US. We live in the state of Nebraska, which is right in the middle of the country. Seems like wherever people are, we all have similar environmental problems. I have spent a couple of hours on your site today and I’m sure I’ll be back tomorrow.

  11. Mrs Green says:

    @rosemary fitzpatrick: Welcome to the site, Rosemary. 🙂
    We agree that the food miles of cherries this time of year are not ideal. However, it is not within the scope of addressing the zero waste issue to go into the holistic environmental picture on the site.

    It’s impossible to be ‘all things to all people’ and while an item might score highly on one aspect, it can score low on another. Many of our readers find this and it’s a matter of weighing up personal values and ethics to make the best choice we can. As a good friend of mine says ‘there is no black and white; only varying shades of green’ 😀

    While we share many environmental concerns ourselves, this blog is solely to help others reduce their landfill waste.

    Ideally we would all eat foods from within a tiny radius of where we live. We feel sure this would benefit the environment, our health and would rebuild the strength of the community. But, we don’t live in an ideal world and not many of us are truly self sufficient.

    You’ll be pleased to hear that the apples came from an orchard just a mile over the hill from us – we have managed to store them successfully for 2 1/2 months 🙂

    @Sandra Jones: Hi Sandra; it’s great to know where you are – thank you! I’m glad you are enjoying the site – I agree; oceans may divide us, but we are bound by similar environmental concerns and issues. It’s great to be able to reach out, share ideas and encourage one another.

  12. Katy says:

    @John – good point. I guess we rarely roast a chicken (although a duck nearly derailed our waste free week!) but when we do the leftover meat becomes the protein in my lunch salad for the next couple of days. Also there is very little that you can’t chuck into an onion/tinned tomato/other veg pasta sauce! So I suppose that is my way of dealing with leftovers if we have them – but I would be thinking of those when planning our food for the week. If you know you’re going to cook a chicken and then use more of the meat the next day, is that still leftovers? 🙂

    @ Mrs Green – having a few handy ideas for leftovers certainly gives you flexibility. We are lucky in that we are rarely ill, and hand on heart I cannot remember the last time I lost my appetite! (If only it were so 😉 We do have only ourselves to please, though, and I appreciate not everyone is in the same boat.

    @ Rosemary/Mrs G again – I agree, it’s really hard to weigh up all the environmental aspects. Giving information and raising awareness about food miles, waste and everything else should hopefully let people come to their own conclusions about what’s best for them. I am not sure how good my diet would be if I lived on local and seasonal produce (not packed in plastic and available without driving) only 🙁

  13. Mrs green says:

    Hi Katy; I too would find a local diet limited, especially as I am vegetarian. I’d be ok for veggies but for protein sources, apart from eggs, there would be nothing without food miles. It’s a job to find anything that reaches all our ‘ideal criteria’.

  14. One of my favorite cookbooks “the moosewood” has a salad recipe where she basically says take any veggies out of your fridge and chop them up very tiny, ad nuts or seeds, and toss with dressing. I use this method all the time. Even people who hate zucchini will eat it when chopped fine.

  15. John Costigane says:

    @Katy: Hi again. A roast chicken’s spare meat is not technically leftovers but was worth a mention because there is always meat left which some may discard and waste.

    Leftovers are a more difficult area, needing imaginative recipes. I avoid leftovers by clearing the plate and with family or friends I allow for individual eating characteristics. It is a tricky subject especially with the young.

  16. Kris says:

    I think courgette/zucchini are much maligned, they’re lovely 😮

    We had one yesterday, chopped up, fried soft with mushrooms and spring onions – then smothered in sauce and draped sensuously over pasta 😀

  17. Mrs Green says:

    @Jen from CleanBin: Any salad like that gets my vote Jen – quick, easy and prevents food waste. Who can not like courgettes? I LOVE them!

    @John Costigane: I agree John, gauging a young one’s appetite is not easy – they vary from day to day, minute to minute, depending on anything from growth spurts, to mood to excitement levels! Still, it sounds like you have a good method at your home to ensure minimal food waste.

    @Kris: Mmmm, Kris that sounds yummy – courgettes and pasta work well together.

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