Mrs Green goes dumpster diving

Filed in Blog by on November 5, 2012 9 Comments
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Food waste from supermarkets

How to reduce food waste by shopping in your cupboards

Oh, ok, I didn’t really.

It’s something I’ve always aspired to but I admit I’m a bit too law abiding to actually go through with it.

And a bit too chicken if I’m honest πŸ˜€

But I really admire people who dumpster dive and wholeheartedly agree with the concept.

After all, a lot of food that is thrown away by supermarkets and other food stores is perfectly good enough to eat.

It’s only because the use by date is approaching, the best before date has gone, something is missing or the packaging is not perfect that most of it gets tossed in the first place.

And that is a waste…

According to Channel 4, Britain’s’ supermarkets waste 300,000 tonnes of food per year. And while some of it ends up in the mouths of the hungry, through organisations such as Fareshare, much of it ends up in landfill.

So I decided to roll up my sleeves and ‘dumpster dive’ in my own cupboards. It feels a good time of year to be using up all the old stuff and restocking for the winter months. Here are some of the delicacies I found at zero waste towers:


Organic passata

With a use by date of:


use by June 2010


food waste soup

The most amazing soup that gave Mr Heinz a run for his money

Served with:


Pitta bread with best before date of July 12

Now I have to admit, these were like tough rocks, but they weren’t actually off, so I did this with them:

food waste

Fried in olive oil and butter with spices to freshen them up

Followed by pudding, zero food waste style. A tin of pineapple:


A tin of crushed pineapple, supposedly past its best

with a best before of:


best before May 2011

Was mixed with some stewed plums from the freezer and made into cobbler:


pineapple and plum cobbler – surprisingly good!

And no pudding in this house would be complete without:

food waste uht milk

Some UHT milk

With a date of:

food waste milk

best before December 2011

Turned into Little Miss Green’s favourite …


There’s no photo of it I’m afraid because it barely touches the sides of her mouth!

What about you – when did you last create a dish from food that would otherwise have been wasted?


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 (9)

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  1. Richard says:

    I love this, very creative. Might give this concept a try myself.

  2. Definitely time for me to do that here as well. Thanks for the reminder and inspiration!

  3. Jane says:

    Your soup and cobbler look lovely.

    I had been ignoring some white flour at the back of the cupboard because I much prefer wholemeal flour and I realised shamefully a few weeks ago that the white flour was about 4 years past its best before date! I made some delicious blackberry and apple crumbles with them using blackberries gathered from local hedgerows, some apples from our garden, and some windfall apples that someone invited us to pick up from her garden because she was not going to use them. We still have several of the crumbles in the freezer. Also, a neighbour gave us some small green tomatoes from his greenhouse that would not go red. I was going to make some chutney out of them. Until I was ready to do so, I put the tomatoes into a fruit bowl with the bananas because that was the most convenient place to put them in a hurry. Because I was busy, I left them longer than I had intended (several weeks) and they went red, so, instead of chutney, we had some nice red tomatoes to eat.

  4. Mrs Green says:

    @Richard: Hi Richard, welcome to the site – let us know what you discover!

    @Kristina (The Greening of Westford): No problem Kristina; have fun!

    @Jane: Oh you can’t beat a freezer full of fruit crumbles. We still have two from last year to use up before we start on this years meagre glut. I’ve had that happen with tomatoes too – putting them in a drawer out of sight usually ripens them as well; they just need warmth πŸ˜‰

  5. self discipline–my cupboards show a serious lack of it—so, as per your sage advice, i have decided to put the sale flyers from local stores in the paper waste basket..and..ding-ding! use my own storage items.
    the basement holds enough to feed a family of 4 for a whole year (if well planned) –and i am the only one here who devours fruits and veges..

    time for the fall clean-up…don’t dare looking at best-by-dates..and much is home canned anyway..note= i am careful of ensuring food safety–boil or microwave 4minutes, each item, prior to using in soups or stews..much will be used in winter baking to heat home and heart..

    anecdote: i had to take my wheelbarrow to pick all the fruits in town as it appears no one else “needs” them? but the donut shop is doing brisk business and so are the weight loss clinic and hospital..freezer full of pears, applesauce and every which way i can conserve the precious fallen bounty.
    with gratitude to the people who offer goods rather than let it perish..and to those who inspire the necessary trend. thanks Mrs G.

  6. Mrs Green says:

    @nadine sellers: Wow, I would love an inventory of your basement; I think it’s wonderful you have so much stored away. Thanks for the tip re home canning safety too – I wasn’t aware. As usual I learn something new from you …

  7. Jane says:

    Try making the Eden Project’s Spicy Tomato and Chickpea Soup!

  8. Your website is terrific, Mrs. Green! I found it when I was looking for uses for pesto. Since I also abhor waste and hear that we may get an overnight freeze or two soon in North Florida, I plan to make pesto with the rest of our fresh basil. Thank you for all your creative ideas and commitment to responsible living.

  9. Poppy says:

    Hi Mrs G,

    Just popped by to say hello. It seems one heck of an age since we last spoke. I’m going to bookmark you on my new toy (iPad – it was a gift!!!) and I’ll have no excuse not to come by again xx

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