Roundup of the “Use it up!” challenge

Filed in Blog by on June 8, 2012 8 Comments
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We are using it up across the world

Wow, you guys never cease to amaze me.

On Monday I threw out a challenge for you to use up the food you already have in your freezer and cupboards and I’m overwhelmed with responses.

We have people taking part via this site, our facebook page, twitter and on various ‘green’ forums across the internet. Our zero wasters live all across the globe from the Netherlands to Australia!

Let’s have a look at who you are and what you are doing:

It appears Helen has the ultimate tip for reducing food waste. She doesn’t have a fridge or freezer! She benefits from zero food waste and pocket money electricity bills!

Palemintmummy says her ‘Use it up!’ challenge will take longer than a week. She has loads of dried stuff that really need to be cycled through and a freezer that needs defrosting but is currently too full. On top of that her baking ingredients need a serious overhaul. Looks like she may be gone a while!

Snowleopard says that compared to many people they are short on cupboard space so finding old food isn’t really an issue. However, on closer inspection she discovered 5 different types of rice that need using up! What tips do you have for snowleopard and her differing packets of rice?

MamaIckle is raring to go. She’s just bought some flour so she can use up the caster sugar and eggs in her pantry and is planning a marathon baking session which she’ll freeze for packed lunches. She’s also found lots of tinned tomatoes so is on a casserole and soup making mission.

Rainbowmama agreed not to buy anything until her end of week trip to the farm shop. She admitted it was laziness that sent her to the shop when she could make all her bread and biscuits from her cupboards full of flour. She has plenty of pulses to use up and wants to make ‘Use it up!’ a new habit.

The aptly named Hungrycaterpillar agreed with Rainbowmama. She tries to have a one week a month using up freezer items which started a while ago with lack of funds. Although she was reluctant to begin she now loves the feeling of accomplishment that comes from knowing she’s made a meal from what would otherwise have been waste.

Heggle is moving house in 3 weeks so is running down her cupboards and freezer in preparation for that. She’s decided that until they are virtually empty she’s not buying anything except dairy, fruit and vegetables. She’s on a baking mission to use up her stock pile of baking goods and thinks they might be eating some rather interesting meals by the end of her challenge!

Laura is also trying to use things up. Apart from milk, butter and chesse she’s using up things that she already has at home. She buys in bulk which means she has lots of certain items to get through but makes the most of that by baking for her local homebirth group. Last week she found three separate containers of home made soup in the freezer so that freed up the containers, made some space and enabled her to prevent food waste.

Jim over at Buy Vertue has stepped up to the challenge and has even issued a blog post encouraging his readers to take part. Jim reminds us that foods with high sugar content such as jams and marmalades can be kept for years after the best before date, but he’s a bit concerned about the jar of Harissa sauce looking at him menacingly from the back of the cupboard. Any ideas for Jim and his jar of Harissa sauve?

Organised Pauper is a new blogger on the block. She has £163.12 this month to buy food, toiletries and cleaning products for 2 adults, 1 teenager, 2 dogs and 2 cats! She regularly buys out of date items from an online discount retailer and finds most jars, tins, dry goods and UHT items keep far longer than the date specified. Organised Pauper recommends tortillas, wraps and chappatis as a good store cupboard standby because they are so versatile. You can put all sorts of things inside as she demonstrated when she stuffed tortillas with two different types of salsa and half a tin of kidney beans.

Kira says this challenge has come at the perfect time because, just like Heggle, she’s running down stocks in the hope of moving home. She’s short on time for shopping too so a “use it up!” challenge will enable her to eat without wasting money or food.

Sarah is definitely in after spending a huge chunk of June’s food budget on a Jubilee celebration barbecue. It’s only fruit and vegetables to be bought in her household for the rest of the month; everything else is coming from the store cupboard and freezer!

Naomi is ready to sign up as her freezer is full of bulk bought grassfed meat that she purchases through local co-ops. She shares that rice and pasta sauce is a great ‘use it up!’ meal and reminds us that reduced food is not a ‘deal’ if we end up wasting it. She’s on a tight budget so as well as reducing waste she’s experimenting with more beans and rice.

Lesley finds that shopping once a month means her cupboards are well maintained but not overflowing. Her freezer is another matter! Her mission for the ‘use it up!’ Challenge is to turn her glut of frozen damsons into flavoured vodka. She’s also planning a ‘freezer dive’ meal where everyone eats different bits of leftovers.

I’m excited to see Small Footprints on board. She runs a popular ‘Change the World Wednesday‘ challenge and has encouraged participants to run their own “Use it up!” challenge.  She brings an element of fun into this challenge by trying to create new dishes with whatever she finds. For this week’s challenge she’ll be dragging all those ‘out of sight, out of mind’ goodies from the back of the fridge and adding them to her recipes. She’s already used up some peaches by making a crumble topping and she’s used up some pinto beans and half a can of tomatoes to make a delicious-sounding chilli. Even the leftovers were blended to make a dip for chips – such inspiration!

Carrie finds she is saving lots of money by not going to the supermarket regularly and admits she has a household of ‘leftovers freaks’ who love nothing better than a plate of last night’s dinners. She’ll be sure to have lots of tips to share!

Jennifer did her own Use it Up! Challenge back in January; they ate the old things and gave away the rest. Jennifer is pretty good at NOT stockpiling and her freezer tends to consist of only frozen vegetables (but she’s dreaming of a walk-in freezer it would seem!)

Jane is manfully eating up bowls of strawberries and cream after the Jubilee celebrations. Well, someone has to do it 😉

Joanna is eager to jump in but says she’s scared of her freezer! My guess is that it has far too many UFOs (unidentified frozen objects) in there! Come on Joanna, we’ll hold your hand while you take a peek at what’s in there!

Sandy is super organised; she keeps an ongoing list of things in her freezer so she’s already ahead of the game. Her veg box was due to arrive mid week, so let’s hope she manages to use it all up!

Argentum Vulgaris is on a tiny budget over in Brazil, so food waste isn’t an option. True to style, however, he’s joined in anyway with the tiny bits of food he HAS found. Go and check out what he found lurking on his shelves.

Kristina has already enjoyed pasta with leftover veggies and ham in a light cream sauce and a veggie stir fry. Sounds delicious!

CelloMom has an unreliable electricity supply where she lives, so if she’s out of town for a few days she always runs down her stocks. Seems the perfect way to ensure there’s no food waste!

The Accessory Lady loves this challenge. She recently went through her preparedness kit and used up all the boxed soups, canned vegetables and prepared meals that were expiring soon. She’s now getting into the habit of putting the newer items into the kit and using all the older items. She’s also guilty of buying new teas before the older ones are used so will be going through all of those and making large pitchers of iced tea, which will come in handy now that the weather is warming up again! It’ll be 85 and sunny on Saturday; apparently!

Our friend Brian doesn’t have a problem with food waste. With an eleven year old, growing boy in the house his challenge is to keep enough food in the house until payday!

Pat is onboard for using up all the goodies in her fridge and freezer and is prepared to make up some wild concoctions if necessary. Good luck Pat; let us know what you eat!

Rewinn is making himself really accountable. He’s planning before and after pictures, plus some ‘in progress’ photos to encourage him to keep going. Go along and give him a cheer!

So there we are – you are definitely not alone! I personally find it interesting that so many people face the same issues. It seems many of us buy through habit without checking beforehand to see what we have in stock – I know that’s something I tend to do. Or we can’t resist those offers and we stockpile them but before we know it six months has passed and the best before date is looming.

I’m going to continue my challenge until the end of June and will compare what we spend on food this month with a ‘normal’ month. Keep me posted on your progress, share some of your wonderful recipes and if you have any ideas for Jim and his Harissa sauce or Snowleopard and her 5 different types of rice, please leave a comment!

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 (8)

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  1. sandy says:

    well I have used all in the fridge, now to tackle the freezer and veg box, its like a tardis my freezer I found some rhubarb from last year, and have made a pie and crumble, put that back into the freezer, I never seem to empty the dam thing, I am always making pies and crumbles, this year I have decided to bottle rather than freze, any tips please?, I have apples trees, pear tree, loads of blackcurrant bushes, and one new raspbery cane. any good book about, I have river cottage preserves already.

  2. TheAL says:

    Wow Sandy! That sounds amazing. You have a full orchard at home. One of my friends suggested pickling as a great way to preserve veggies and fruits. There are few fruits that are delicious pickled: Good luck and I hope you have a great crop this year!

  3. Jane says:

    We have pears that bottle well. I fancy making some spiced ones this year. Raspberries are lovely fresh with cream in a fatless sponge cake – a favourite summer treat. Then frozen and added to apple for hot puddings in the winter. Blackcurrants are superb on ice cream or with hot winter puddings – you only need to add a few to apple.

    If it wasn’t so cold, now is the time to freeze a few blocks of chicken stock from summer roasts for when the weather is cooler and you want soup all the time!

  4. I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to use up two jars of Kaffir lime peel and two jars of Kaffir lime leaves. I think I bought too many.

  5. Jennifer says:

    How interesting to see what everyone is doing! I love it! A walk-in freezer might be a bit too much for just two of us, but I do dream of having one of the large ones I grew up with. The type you have to bend over to pull the whole cow out of! ha! I was so impressed with the woman who had no freezer or fridge. I think about that all the time. I wonder what the Amish do…

  6. Green Steve says:

    I’m moving flat in less than a week’s time so I’ve been trying to use up everything in my fridge/freezer and I’m slowly getting there. What’s harder is decluttering my cupboards and finding useful homes for everything I don’t want….I feel a charity shop visit coming shortly.

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