It’s an old adage but it seems to have more resonance now than ever. Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s War on Waste recently highlighted that up to a third of the food produced in the UK never get’s eaten, whether that be through domestic or retail waste.
Did you know an average household throws away £700 worth of food a year? Or that farmers across the UK are literally ploughing vegetables back into the earth because they don’t comply with retailers cosmetic standards? Much of this perfectly good food we throw away is discarded simply because it has passed some arbitrary “best before” date. I am definitely with Hugh on this issue. The supermarkets are improving their image (if you believe everything you read), but coming from such a low base, they have a long way to go, and I for one am only seeing these initiatives on the news, and not on the shelves.
Well, in Box Local Towers I’m glad to say we do as much as we can to reduce food waste, and often have meals that re-invent the leftovers from a previous dinner. I was brought up by a thrifty mother who taught me frugality in all things, but in food there really is no excuse for throwing away so much stuff. She had been brought up in post war Britain when every mouthful was hard won, and frugality was a necessity, but she never lost that. It feels like the majority went into a rebellion from such ideals – we waste simply because we can. Encouraged to over-buy by supermarket offers, we fill our fridges with more food than we can eat.
But how do you avoid waste when getting a weekly veg delivery? It’s about changing the way you think about preparing a meal. We all know the benefits from the veg themselves, fibre, vitamins and antioxidants galore, aswell as making meat go further which is better for your pocket, and your heart. So how do we do it?
Firstly, our veg is super fresh so it will last longer than it’s supermarket comparison if stored correctly – it is designed to last you the entire week so you don’t need to make that mad dash to the supermarket for one item (and invariably end up spending £15 on stuff you didn’t really need…) Secondly our portions are realistic for the number of people so you won’t feel like you have too much of one thing. Thirdly you will need to do a little bit of thinking to make sure you use up things in a sensible order – even with super fresh veggies, for example mushrooms will be better used in the first half of the week.
Storing your food properly will help to get the best out of your box. Freeze meat on the day of your delivery if you aren’t sure when you will eat it – vac packed meat is easy, quick and safe to defrost in cold water. Some veg and leaves respond well to being kept in water, and anything bunched like carrots, radish and beetroot will last longer with leaves trimmed before storing in the fridge. Keep bananas away from other fruit and veg (unless it needs a bit of ripening). We give storage tips in the boxes to help you to know what’s what.
Salads need not be lettuce and tomato, think outside the box, and add whatever you like. Most vegetables can be eaten raw, or quickly steam and cool veg to add to a mixture of more traditional salad fayre. We have some salad recipes here but armed with a classic dressing, the world really is your oyster.
Stir – fries are another great way to get more veggies in your diet. Try to cook things for as little time as possible, adding chunkier veg first, or blanching items like asparagus and beans so they cook in the same time as others. Cook your veg before your meat and remove from the pan to retain their crunchiness. Our spring Pad Thai recipe is a good starting point for any stir fry meal and our pork stir fry gives you a great marinade base for meaty meals
Soup is one of my favourite ways to use up vegetables, heck, sometimes I buy vegetables specifically for the purpose (but admittedly not often) and in go the odds and ends that get leftover from meals, a bit of curry or some roast chicken bones and gravy. My theory is I’ve spent too long creating flavour to simply tip it in the bin. If I’m roasting vegetables I usually add a few more to the tray, firstly to use up that last lonely parsnip, but also knowing that they will add sweetness and depth to a soup I am yet to devise.
Here’s my little go to list of you are needing some inspiration on how not to waste
- Bits and bobs of cooked or raw veggies – soups, stir fries, omlettes and stews
- Fruit – freeze overripe fruit for smoothies or make a crumble
- Cooked meat – sandwiches, stir fries and soups
- Leftover sides from a roast – again these can be “souped” or make a delicious bubble & squeak
- Pasta/rice- add to a salad and take to work for your lunch (or soup?!)
- Bread – breadcrumbs for the freezer, croutons (for….soup?) or bread and butter pudding
Pretty much everything can go into a soup, add a quarter of a chopped onion per person (or a leek or spring onion if you have one hanging around), some herbs and stock and you can can transform the most unlikely of ingredients into a tasty lunch. Enjoy that soup though, its unlikely to ever taste quite the same again…