Food waste Friday

Filed in Blog by on January 15, 2010 19 Comments
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Little Miss Green makes chocolate crunch; but there's no custard to go with it!

Little Miss Green makes chocolate crunch; but there's no custard to go with it!

Morning lovelies! On a Friday I share any food waste we’ve created this week. In addition we step our bin up to the scales for her weekly weigh in.

Our dustbin was due to be collected on Wednesday for the final time, but bad weather stopped play, so she’s still here with a full tummy until we don’t know when!

Food waste has been interesting this week, again due to weather.

Although we haven’t been totally snowed in, our road has not been clear for a long time. We are a little off the beaten track and not top of the list for the UK’s dwindling supplies of salt or grit.

Our local shop has a limited range of basic items and we haven’t ventured out much for the past week.

What this has meant, along with a desperate craving for fresh carrots and broccoli, is that I’ve had to get very creative with leftovers!

We’ve been using things up in the cupboards, freezer and fridge and along with feeding the birds our plate scrapings, there isn’t a scrap of food waste in sight.

It’s been an interesting time. Little Miss Green has been desperate for custard and I’ve had to show her about rationing things out. If she had 1/2 pint milk for custard, there would be nothing left for Mr Green’s much-needed cup of coffee in the morning. (And if Mr G doesn’t get his morning coffee, my life gets pretty miserable!)
If she eats all the apples on one day, there is nothing left for the rest of the week. It’s been a great education for her because she’s always grown up with a ‘if it runs out, we go and buy more’ reality. We DID get to the shops once, but there was no bread, no bread mixes, no milk, yogurt and much of the fresh fruit and vegetables showed empty shelves.

I wonder if we’ll see more of this as oil levels deplete….

Talking of food waste, Alex Renton and his family have been challenging themselves to reduce their waste. He estimated they were throwing out around 6kg of food per week!

He shows how he and his family have reduced their food waste to virtually nothing by composting, using up leftovers, giving the royal salute to ‘best before’ dates, and better meal preparation. It’s an inspiring and uplifting read, which is starkly honest – I think you’ll enjoy it. Go and have a read of his “Good riddance to bad rubbish” post over on the Times.

And if you want to know more about people’s food waste across the world; hop over to Kristen’s Frugal Girl blog where other bloggers share the trials and tribulations of their food waste.

How about you? Do you have a particular food you throw away every week? Do you succumb to 3 for 2 offers, only to throw half of it away? Do you have young kids that push half chewed food around their plates? Share your bug bears and successes in the comments!


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 (19)

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  1. John Costigane says:

    Your ‘weather permitting’ disclaimer was well judged. Maybe it should be tagged on to all year-based efforts. It is typical of the recent cold spell that everything is affected. Today, I missed the blue bin collection for the second time in succession but there is no problem since there are weeks of room for other recycables there. For those who produce full bins regularly it is a bigger issue and your neighbours may also be bearing the brunt of inconvenience.

    There have been food scarcity issues here as well. I visited a supermarket early evening and much of the fresh fruit & veg, particularly carrots, was sold out. People had been buying for longer supplies, partly due to worsening road conditions expected.

  2. Layla says:

    We don’t have much food waste here, and everything usually ends on the compost anyway!

    At times, the problems were ‘iffy things in the freezer’ (eg potica-pastry walnut filling from years ago, never used up again… So this Xmas I insisted on never freezing the filling & we gobbled it up in a day or two – it was yummy!)

    That chocolate crunch looks yummy!! Had to google up custard – looks yummy too (and DIY-able?)

    Dad says we ran out of carrots already (usually we had them much longer, this year there weren’t many in the garden!) so we’ll have to resort to shops too (which I’m not too happy about – probably either zero waste or eco again!) We still have sauerkraut, red beets, full freezer (including some broccoli and lots of beans), etc.

    It’s great you could teach Little Miss Green about rationing – it’s a useful & transferrable skill!!
    I wonder about possibilities of peak oil consequences sometimes too, though maybe the scarytalk is exaggerating? I try to source as much as we can locally, just in case (& cause it’s more eco too!)
    If you know a farmer with milk is only a nice walk away, it’s much easier to be confident about the future! (Except in this freezing weather it’s not so fun to go outside to get milk, so we sometimes ration too, he he!!)

  3. I have 4 daughters who are vegetarians and one of them is super picky. She will now allow her main food to touch her side food. If they touch she gets grossed out. One way of avoiding having to throw food away (which I will not!) is to let her put her own food on her plate. This is much easier because she is 11 now and can do basically everything for herself.
    The rest of my girls will eat just about anything I throw their way. My husband is a human garbage can so unless I sneak some mushrooms in. He is such a baby but I love him.
    You would think with 4 vegetarians and one of them lactose intolerant, there would be some waste. Dont you feel sorry for me cooking our meals? Ohhh veyy! It can be difficult at times due to us parents being light meat eaters.
    I found that the only few times I have to throw things out is my own fault. Last night I left out the sour cream. Not a small package but a large one half way full. UURrrrr. Sour cream is like gold in our home. My fault due to me not doing dishes last night. Had I took the time to do this, I would of also cleaned the counter and put the sour cream away.
    Anyways, its a battle. And I plan to win this battle!

  4. Charity says:

    My kids (nearly 5 and 2) are very bad when it comes to food waste. They are so unpredictable – last time my toddler had pizza he devoured the lot, whereas today he refused to touch it and ate nothing but carrots! I do keep their half-eaten stuff and feed it tto my husband or occasionally the cats (they like fish fingers). But we have a friend for tea several times a week and I generally throw away their leftovers as I don’t want their germs. I do ask their parents what they like to eat but again they are unpredictable.

    I’m afraid I don’t feed the birds. I find when I do, the cats start bringing them in :(. I guess it is zero waste cat food…

  5. francis says:

    your article on bulk food bins. you must be in the last century because it is against the law to sell human consumed food in bulk bins and has been for 15 years. it is due to the cross contamination of the food by people all using the same utensil even if they only use it in the one bin.

  6. Condo Blues says:

    No food waste for us tonight. We ate leftovers for dinner 🙂

    Not wasting food is my husband’s big green button. Woe be a child that even tries to waste food in my house! My husband has a prepared speech about how people in disadvantaged countries don’t have a choice about the food they eat and how we should be grateful that we do.

  7. Jane says:

    Lack of fresh staple foods in the shops and difficulty getting there changed the way in which we ate too.
    We had several meals made from longlife ingredients from the cupboard and several were spicy.

    A good experience for Little Miss Green in making the best of what you’ve got!

  8. Hazel says:

    @francis: That’s puzzling- how do shops sell pick and mix sweets? I reckon either children don’t count as humans or as they’re all using their own utensils (ie fingers) that must create a loophole?! Hmmmm…

    I’ve decided I love our milkman. I hadn’t had milk delivered for almost 10 years, but after a change of address and having children (and so no leaving the house for work at silly o’clock in the morning) and finding Mrs A’s blog I started again, and on the day when our village was snowed in and the little shop was out of milk, the milkman made it in and delivered our milk! Fab.

  9. Eve says:

    I was brought up on no food waste as mum had 9 mouths to feed and we knew that if we didn’t clear our plates there would be nothing else to eat until breakfast.
    I remember we had very little in our bin each week as mum burned all packaging as it was mostly paper and cardboard.

  10. Josie Brock says:


    No food waste in our household other than from the cat who is very picky! I have subscribed to the web site of ‘Unpackaged’ as it is up in London and is free for me to travel. I would take issue with the idea that bulk food bins are against the law. They are certainly more difficult to find but certain farm shops have them. If anyone knows of a shop in South London or Bromley I should be most grateful.

  11. sandy says:

    no food waste this week and we have eaten out of freezer and cupboard, with veg and bread delivered, have missed some fruit but have eaten what was delivered, well maybe there is a reason for everything ?

  12. Mrs Green says:

    @John Costigane: I hope the weather is clearing now John. I must admit, even out bottles and cans was overflowing after a month of no collection over the Christmas period. We were able to drop them off at our local recycling centre the other day…

    @Layla: Hi Layla, yes you can DIY custard; home made to a traditional recipe made with eggs is lovely and rich 🙂 It sounds like you have food waste sorted in the Layla household – well done!

    @surviving and thriving on pennies: You’re doing brilliantly. I thought I had it tough with 3 of us – a meat eater, a vegetarian and a girl who swings from the appetite of a horse to that of a sparrow, seamingly overnight! You’re an inspiration and I love your determination/

    @Charity: Hi Charity, children’s appetites and preferences can be impossible to keep up with, but you are doing your best and doing what you can. It’s a phase that will pass. I understand about the birds; it used to be a problem with Cattus Green was younger; I never used to feed them either…

    @francis: Hello Francis, welcome to the site and thanks for your comment. I completely disagree with you, however, as the success of the store Unpackaged ( , in London and pick and mix sweets in stores around the country will testify. Are you a caterer in the UK? Perhaps there are different laws where you are …

    @Condo Blues: Oh dear! Those speeches rarely go down well, Mr G used to look at his mother and tell her to send packages of his leftovers to Africa if she felt so strongly – naughty boy!

    @Jane: Hmmm, how do you get on with things like longlife milk? We don’t use that, but we had assorted tins of stuff which keep for ever and a day. yes, the educational side was positive.

    @Hazel: Yay for your milkman; they work so hard to keep household services as normal as possible, don’t they?

    @Eve: Hi Eve, has your upbringing had an impact on the way you choose to live now? I’d love to hear more about it!

    @Josie Brock: Hi Josie, how fab you can get to Unpackaged. I would have a field day in there – come and tell us all about it when you go!

    @sandy: Sounds like a good week for you too, Sandy. I believe there is a reason for everything 😉

  13. John Costigane says:

    @Mrs Green: I realise the recycling builds up quickly for the family, especially over the festive season. Part of my reason for missing the local blue bin round was simply to save the workers some time in this trying few weeks. They did pass by later just in case but I stuck to my guns.

    The weather today was a complete change to wet and windy but mild. The forecast eventually matched the real situation after so many false starts. At the butcher, I noticed ham houghs complete with thick skin, These are ideal in making stock for soup and the meat is a meal on its own. The skin which is removed for cooking could be put out for birds or bokashied.

    The Sweet Basil plants are still alive but the younger one is really struggling with even some of the recent growth dropping off entirely. Possibly I removed too many leaves for freezing leaving it weakened. The older plant is in good condition with just a few leaves slightly damaged.

  14. Jane says:

    @John Costigane: Ditto my mixed green box recycling. I don’t always bother to put it out and with the lousy weather just put out the weekly food bin (with the remainder of last week’s in it as it was frozen in there) and an empty cereal packet filled with the rest of the week’s (sometimes 2 weeks) cardboard packaging flattened and packed inside.

    Instead of putting one of everything that can go in the collection I just do say tins and tetrapaks one week and glass the next. It is no big deal for me and makes it easier for the collectors.

  15. Poppy says:

    In a bizarre and slightly smug way, I have enjoyed not having post or bin collections and would very much like it if the council and Royal Mail used this experience as a way forward. I doubt that will happen though. I had the same feelings after our flood experiences, but people very soon slipped back into their old habits and state of mind 🙁

    I don’t want or need my bin emptying every week or post though my door everyday.

  16. Jane says:

    @Mrs Green: Longlife milk tastes horrid in tea BUT is not noticeable when used for custard, hot chocolate, cheese and other sauces requiring milk. We usually have a carton or two in the cupboard.

    Our storecupboard meals (we have no working freezer at present) were chilli with rice (tinned beans, tinned tomatoes, tom puree, onions, garlic and peppers + spices+ secret ingredient) and a spicy Moroccan chickpea and tomato soup made with passata. We also had a very simple pasta sauce which is basically the same as the chilli one without those spices and beans but with mushrooms. (I make one lot of tomato mix and then split it.)

    We started dreaming about brocolli – so it was top of the shopping list – but brocolli is so much better fresh, really green and steamed that I wouldn’t want to stock up on it!

  17. Poppy says:

    Interesting that you mention tinned tomatoes Jane. I saw an article earlier that says Sainsbury’s are changing all their own brand tinned tomatoes to tetra packs. Supposedly easier to transport – lighter and more compactable and they say, just as easily recyclable. Posts left on here would seem to say otherwise, but it may be a good stick to beat individual stores with!

  18. Jane says:

    @Poppy: We are lucky that we now have kerbside Tetrapak recycling. Before that we collected them and took them to several banks sponsored by these paperboard/carton manufacturers and before that we wrote to the Council asking them to take up the offer of money from these manufacturers – although I don’t believe this relationship was quite as hunky-dory as it might have been. There are plenty of people who do still avoid buying food and drink in these containers. The big Sainsbury’s near me has recycling banks for these.

  19. Mrs Green says:

    @John Costigane: Hi John, good to get an update on your basil plants. I expect the recent cold spell really was too much! You’ve done brilliantly though; these plants are sun lovers…

    @Poppy: Hi poppy, I like to think we could all learn something too, but, erm, I don’t see many signs of it – we simply wait for normality to reappear and then breathe a sigh of relief…

    @Jane: Hi Jane, thanks for the feedback on longlife milk; it’s worth noting that it’s good for custard as a custard craving is usually what throws our milk supply short. I might get some this week and try it…Your recent meals sound delicious…

    @Poppy: Poppy, it’s right about Sainsburys – I’ve been getting chick peas in tetra pak cartons since the middle of last year. They are tiny cartons, compact and of course lighter than tin. I’m not really sure that it’s a move forward on the recycling front, but on the overall footprint front it might be.

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