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Make it your mission to save £430 this year!

January 27, 2012

Every year in Scotland we waste around £430 each by throwing away our unwanted food.  Just think what you could do with that extra money – £35 a month could pay your phone or electricity bill, or you could blow the whole lot on something special.  Even the most savvy food shopper can trim down their waste and make a healthy saving in 2012.  Below are some of the resolutions I’m making this year in a bid to rid my bin of expired treats and put some pennies back into my pocket.  Why not join me in adopting some of these habits, or come up with some of your own?

Leftover day

A devoted hoarder of leftovers, my fridge is often full of Tupperware boxes and little cling-filmed bowls filled with the excess of my week’s meals.  Too often these lurk around in there until it’s too late and ultimately meet their fate at the bottom of the kitchen bin.  This year, as I plan my meals for the week, I’ll be leaving one day free to focus on the tasty overflow from the past few days.  Try mixing things up by joining forces with some friends, turning a revisit to the week’s leftovers into a sociable smorgasbord with just one important rule – no food should be thrown out!

Be brave – ask to box up!

It’s time to extend my food waste rules to the restaurants I eat in.  This year I’ll be taking a tip from our friends across the water, and instead of sending the food I just can’t manage back to the kitchen, I’ll be unashamedly asking for a doggie bag please!  Not only will the leftovers be heroically saved from the bin, but I’ll be able to enjoy restaurant quality food all over again the next day.

Stop guessing and start measuring

Measuring out the exact portion needed can seem like a hassle at the time, but later that night, trying to figure out what to do with a quarter portion of pasta makes you wish you’d reached for the scales earlier – not to mention the overwhelming urge to just eat up the excess there and then.  Even in the absence of scales, you can use other guides to portion your food.  For example an adult portion of rice is 75g, or ¼ of a cup.  Try playing around with your raw ingredient measurements and once you’ve found the perfect portion size, make a note of how much that was.

Experiment with substitute ingredients

Using recipes to use up leftovers can often feel like a vicious circle – in order to use up the quarter onion you have to buy a green pepper and only use half; in order to use up the other half you’ll need to buy a packet of bacon to get a couple of rashers…  Often there’s a tasty alternative right in front of your eyes screaming ‘pick me!’  Root vegetables can be easily interchangeable; recipes involving meat aren’t usually fussy; and in many cases that sprig of parsley adds little more than presentation points.  There may be a few disasters along the way, but ultimately getting to grips with this skill could lead to improved recipes and getting to use the ingredients you want more often.

Learn to love my freezer

The ultimate solution to extending the life of food, my freezer never lets me down, and yet it’s usually disorganised, under-utilised, and unloved.  Almost any foods, up to the end of their ‘use by’ date, can be frozen, and although the taste may fade after a while, it can stay in there for years without becoming unsafe to eat.  And what’s more, freezing seals in the goodness and nutrients so it doesn’t have to be a last resort – why not cook an extra portion and pop in the freezer to eat at a later date?  Just make sure you label anything you put into the freezer, unless you prefer to play the guessing game at dinner time.

Become a smarter shopper

In 2012 I’m saying goodbye to the erratic supermarket sweep – rushing around on an empty tummy, impulsively stuffing deals into my trolley and arriving home with barely a complete meal to cook.  Planning out my meals for the week and making a shopping list means that a trip to the supermarket is an altogether more pleasant experience, while having a plan means that I’ll avoid buying BOGOF offers that never get eaten, and all the deliberation about what to cook for dinner will be over in one fell swoop.  Just remember to include a degree of flexibility, and if plans change, why not utilise your freezer.

Take the store cupboard challenge

We all have them.  Items bought months ago as a bargain that sit idle in the back of the cupboard, constantly being dismissed in favour of a dependable favourite.  My mission is to rid my cupboard of such items, reaching for the jar of mince-meat, tin of azuki beans, or packet of spring roll wrappers and getting creative.  These patient ingredients will finally see their day come, and I’ll hopefully discover some new favourite recipes too.  Use the LFHW blender to find inspiring ideas.

Visit www.facebook.com/lovefoodhatewastescotland to tell us what your food waste new years resolution is!

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