Cut down on your food waste – IT’S A WIN WIN

Reducing food waste saves money and is one of the most effective ways we can cut our carbon emissions and combat climate change.

One positive knock-on effect of the lockdown has been that people across the UK have been managing their food better, cutting the throwing-out of the most wasted foods (potatoes, bread, chicken and milk) by over a third [WRAP survey April 2020].

FOOD WASTE CHALLENGE                                                               

But we need to do better! October 2020 will see the launch of South Cambridgeshire District Council and Cambridge Sustainable Food’s food waste challenge. There’ll be online cookery workshops, recipes, talks and storytelling, and support for you and your family to reduce your food waste. Want to save waste, but not sure how? Concerned by how much food you throw out each day? You’ll be guided through how to measure your food waste and your food footprint, together with introductions to some top local chefs, their favourite recipes and tips for reducing food waste.

Sustainable Cottenham Eco Eats is partnered with CSF’s year-long Food for Our Future campaign to reduce all aspects of our carbon food-prints. See tasters below from favourite local chefs, Lucy Robinson and Jane Hackshaw. More contributions of planet friendly food ideas welcome – send us yours! Email to chris@sustainablecottenham.org.uk 

How to prevent food waste – tips & recipes

from Lucy Robinson, Chef, Stickies Pop-up Cafe

I’ve always been a bit neurotic about not wasting food, but the recent lockdown life change has made this even more crucial.  To begin with we had some food shortages such as flour, eggs and pasta, which encouraged me to be more experimental by substituting in other ingredients.  We were also trying to limit trips out for grocery shopping, so for the first time ever, I began to plan ahead and try to buy 2 weeks’ worth of groceries in one shop.  I really enjoyed this challenge and at times the enforced experimental cooking has led to some really tasty creations.

My top tips would be to start out by sorting your freezer.  Clean it out and make a plan of when you will eat up the contents.  If you have a chest freezer write a list of what’s in it.  You may find you can live off the contents for the next month!  With a zen-like freezer, not only will you know what needs eating but you will have created space for future storage.  From now on try to only freeze things in portion sizes that will feed your family rather than over-filling and having to throw away anything at the end of the meal.  If I make a big batch of veggie curry I portion it into meals for 3 and put them in food bags in the freezer. You can buy fantastic reusable food bags which save on space instead of using plastic containers.

During lockdown, when the fridge was full up after a big food shop, I was constantly checking what was in my fridge and how long I had on ‘best before’ dates to make sure nothing would be left to go off.  Menu plans are good but be flexible.  If something needs eating up tomorrow then swap meals around so nothing goes in the bin.

Even with the best planning there will always be leftover food but don’t worry as there are so many ways to use it up.  Here are just a few ideas.  A lentil curry works fantastically as a flavoursome base and can take all sorts of different veg and also freezes well.  Add your root vegetables at the beginning of cooking with spices and add your green veg at the end.  We like to use butternut squash, carrots, celeriac and then whatever we have out of courgette, green beans, peas and spinach.  A recipe isn’t fixed so play with what you have.  This principle also works well for soups and both options are a great way to clear your kitchen of wilting vegetables and line you up with easy lunches ready in the freezer. 

We have an ‘ifit’ meal about once a fortnight.  This is the name my partner refers to a dish of leftovers….. If it’s in the fridge it’s going in!  Usually a pasta sauce with slow cooked tomatoes, onion, garlic and rosemary, grated courgette and any leftover roasted vegetables.  Some herbs, a little creme fraiche and any scraps of cheese that need eating up.  It usually turns out so good that he complains I haven’t written down the recipe!

Bananas are my favourite use-up food. When the skins go brown I always slice them onto a tray lined with parchment and put them in the freezer. When they’re frozen solid, peel them off and bag up ready to use. They make the creamiest, healthy ice cream, blended up with a little cacao powder, cinnamon and oat milk. Also freeze berries this way and combine with the bananas for a speedy smoothie breakfast, add some yoghurt, oats and nut butter to fill you up for the morning.

Herbs are another thing that goes off very quickly.  Quite often I buy a bunch of parsley or coriander or tarragon and only need half of it. So with the remainder I get creative and make up alternative herb pestos.  Parsley, mint & hazelnuts make a delicious combination.  Also try using rocket in pesto to replace some of the basil. Pesto is great to add to kids’ meals for a quick flavour boost.  Stir it into leftover couscous, rice or quinoa.  Add a little oil to your pesto to use as a salad dressing.

There are just so many ideas and variations, the list is endless, but try to get creative with your leftovers and please don’t waste anything.

For Lucy’s Banana Chocolate Ice Cream recipe go to: www.sustainablecottenham.org.uk/recipes-for-reducing-food-waste/

OUR TOP FOOD WASTE SAVING TIPS

From Jane Hackshaw, Community Centre Coffee Shop manager

  • Our ‘daily do’ is any Jacket Potatoes left over from the lunch service we freeze and then use them to thicken our soups. This is a great use of leftovers but also ensures that all our soups are Gluten Free which is so important to many these days.
  • We have fresh fruits for sale (bananas, apples, oranges). When these are either too ripe or bruised we make cakes with them, another great way of saving wastage.

And don’t forget, STORING FOOD WELL saves waste TOO

From Vicky Lacey, SusCott committee

  • apples last longer if stored in the fridge
  • fridges keep food fresher for longer when set to 5°C or less
  • chicken breasts can still be put into the freezer right up until the ‘use by’ date

For all sorts of tips on food storage, meal planning, portion measurement and recipe inspiration, visit www.lovefoodhatewaste.com