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Ethical living

Using up all the food

26 replies

Emmie412x · 15/01/2020 11:50

That's it really - been on a mission to ensure that we don't waste any food this year... at first it felt really overwhelming with all the things left over from Christmas and NYE but getting into the swing of it.

Actions taken include:

  • portion control (not boiling a huge amount of pasta for example but really thinking how much will be used)
  • freezing the loaf of bread we buy and popping only the number of slices required in the toaster. No more stale or mouldy bread. A couple of slices also defrost quickly if required.
  • constantly observing the fruit bowl and ensuring that we eat before they go too ripe. A couple of bananas went into banana muffins last week but in general we are actually eating more fruit.
  • incorporating leftovers into new meals, e.g. today leftover pizza sauce, slightly wilted carrot and some slightly soft tomatoes will be made into a pasta sauce together with some leftover chicken mince
  • using up random bits of cheese and making tortilla pizzas from leftover wraps that were going stale
  • hiding random bits of veg into foods like chilli, pies, soup etc.
  • going through freezer, fridge and cupboards to meal plan

Further tips are more than welcome!
OP posts:

TW2013 · 15/01/2020 12:00

Having a raclette night which is really just leftovers and cheese, but sounds more exciting.

Doing a MN chicken-just boiling the last of it for a chicken broth lunch.


Cocomobile · 15/01/2020 12:07

Meal planning works for me, but it takes a lot of time to get your plans set up.

Buying small amounts regularly. I do a shop twice a week (delivered) and only buy small amounts of fresh fruit and veg at one time. Again, this is more time consuming than just buying a lot in one go

Making sure things are visible in the fridge. I find I only throw food out now if it’s hidden at the back of the fridge and so I’ve forgotten about it


TheDuchessofDukeStreet · 15/01/2020 13:42

At present I
Have a box or bag in the freezer for leftover or wilted tomatoes. I do this for carrots, celery and peppers to. Then I combine with a tin of tomatoes and cook to make a red sauce for chicken, pizza or pasta. It all gets blitzed with a stick blender at the end.
I don’t meal plan but I do batch cook. Individual portions of various dishes are taken out of the freezer in advance, then I do pasta/ rice/ potatoes to go with them.
Any potatoes left are mashed and frozen, again in single portions. New potatoes and pasta become salads for Dp’s Lunch next day.
Leftover or wizened fruit can become a crumble. Citrus fruit I juice and freeze to use for cooking or simply as a juice to take to work if there is enough. Black bananas are good on toast.
I’m bad at wasting a bit of rice when I cook. I need to estimate portions and tweak cooking times.
Visibility in the fridge is key, I agree.


TheDuchessofDukeStreet · 15/01/2020 13:43

Oh and most cheeses can be grated and put in the freezer to top various dishes.


tellmewhenthespaceshiplandscoz · 15/01/2020 13:49

I love this thread, trying to waste less so I'll be back.

To add -

I sometimes buy those 60p or 2 for a £1 small loaf cakes from Asda's bakery section (then lemon one and cherry are lovely). We probably have one then I slice and individually freeze on a flat tray and pop them all in a bag once frozen so they don't stick together as a giant wedge. We took a few slices out yesterday afternoon to defrost for a few hours and they were bloody lovely!

If you make stock, every time you too and tail veggies like carrots, spring onion ends stick them in a bag in the freezer them whack them in with your next carcass.

When you roast a chicken and you've taken it from the tray to carve let the roasting tray cool then carefully pour all the juices into a cup or container and poo in the fridge. Next day scrape the fat off the top and your left with a gorgeous "stock pot" which you can chuck into gravy, cooking dishes whatever.


tellmewhenthespaceshiplandscoz · 15/01/2020 13:50

Pop, obviously. Please don't shit in your fridge Blush


pumpkinpie01 · 15/01/2020 13:59

Just following to get some tips, we don't waste that much food but I'm sure could save more. I do meal plan every week - go through the cupboards and freezer before going shopping and work out what extras I need to make a full meal.


TheDuchessofDukeStreet · 15/01/2020 16:16

Tell me, your cake idea sounds nice. They might be good with some custard as a pudding especially if one had extra milk to use.


WeBuiltCisCityOnSexistRoles · 15/01/2020 16:20

Have teenagers.

As a proper tip though, if you have any stale bread, blitz it into breadcrumbs and put in a bag in the freezer - just take a handful out as and when you need it.

(We've not actually had any stale bread in the house for years though, due to teenagers)


IToldYouIWasFreaky · 15/01/2020 16:38

going through freezer, fridge and cupboards to meal plan

I'm trying to do this at the moment. I'm a bit guilty of stashing things in the freezers and forgetting about them so I'm trying to make sure I have a regular check and using things up before buying new. We're currently having at least one leftovers night a week.

I have one freezer drawer full of bread which needs to be used up. I often make a bread pudding but I'd welcome other ideas of what to do with it all!

Another key thing is not to take "best before" dates too seriously. I used them as a guide, so I can make sure that older food is used up first but I'd never throw something away just because it was past it's best before date. I'm sure that a lot a food gets wasted that way.


UnaOfStormhold · 15/01/2020 16:41

Pop small portions of leftovers into the freezer and take for work lunches - they're even their own cold pack!


SlowSigh · 15/01/2020 16:44

Definitely portion control.For example one cup of dried rice is enough for 4 people, even though it doesn't look it.

I have a list of everything in the freezer, which gets ticked off when something is used.

2 deliveries a week, with delivery pass, so food doesn't pile up. Before each deliver go through fridge and identify what needs using up before new food.

Once a month make list of all cupboard, fridge, freezer and menu plan. Sometimes this will be a meal where someone has a pie, someone else will have a portion of lasagne etc but we always end up with odd things like that.

Biggest thing for me was noticing what we were throwing away - dips never get finished so I don't buy any more.


PenelopeFlintstone · 15/01/2020 21:55

This is a great thread. Im just about to start creating three or four weekly shopping lists in my supermarket app, based on meal plans.
I hate both shopping and cooking, so I hope this helps with both and also is more economical and I'll now also try to include ethical in my plans.
Thanks for the timely reminder.
A tip for those who shop fortnightly or even monthly, is be aware of shelf life of fruit and eat accordingly. So, at the start, eat the stone fruit and bananas, then move to apples, oranges and mandarins, and for those who want to do monthly shopping finish up on tinned pineapple and peaches.
I read this online but thought it was obvious but clever at the same time.
And I also love the tip where on the day before shopping, everything in the vegetable crisper goes into a pot for soup. A nice clean and empty crisper ready for the new shopping to go into.


WeirdPookah · 15/01/2020 22:05

Get a week to view diary and plan, plan and plan.
Make shopping list from those plans and only buy what it required.

I have very little waste, I absolutely hate food waste.

I have an inventory for my freezer thats really easy to keep track on, or add too.
Peas OO
then you cross out a circle if you use it, or add a circle if you get another, no crossing out numbers etc


TorysSuckRevokeArticle50 · 15/01/2020 22:06

Lemons and limes, slice and freeze for drinks, or juice into ice cube trays and freeze then use in those recipes that call for a tablespoon or squeeze of juice.

Fruit, slice and freeze it, even if it's just 1 apple or a handful of blueberries. Chuck it all into the same bag in the freezer and use as smoothie mix or crumble filling.

Late summer and autumn we have a huge glut of raspberries and blackberries in our garden, then plums from MIL. We spend an afternoon making various combos of fruit compote with ginger and/or cinnamon and/or vanilla...then bag up and freeze. Instant crumble/pie filling during the winter or just warm through for compote with custard, add to overnight oats, or defrost and have with cream and meringues.

I give this same one on every quick meal thread, but buy trays of pork loin steaks, chicken breasts or thighs.

On the day you buy them, bag them up with enough for a meal and then dose each bag with different basic marinades like a good squeeze of honey and a spoon of mustard, bbq sauce, or a glug of red wine.... then freeze them. Take out in the morning to defrost, then cook for tea. They will have had plenty of marinade time so are really tasty.


minipie · 16/01/2020 14:32

I don’t meal plan but we do tend to eat the same meals over and over Blush so we always have the ingredients for X or Y meal and no random leftover ingredients from something we hardly ever have. Boring but it works for reducing waste.

We decide what to eat based at least partly on a quick review of use by dates/food condition, not what we feel like. Again boring but it works.

I have a shelf in the fridge on which I put all the “needs eating soon” veg, so we go for those first rather than into the veg drawers below. When I get a new shop any older stuff comes out of the drawers and onto the shelf.

Keep an eye on plans for the week, if you are going to be out several evenings then buy less, or if you already bought and plans change, freeze anything that won’t get used in time.

We are also quite relaxed about use by dates and go by smell, look and taste rather than printed date.


Emmie412x · 17/01/2020 07:46

Great tips here, thank you!

Out of curiosity, I tried 'Too good to go' app yesterday with a cafe and for about £3 collected the following, all freshly handmade that day with artisan bread and not in plastic packaging

  • chicken wrap
  • 2 x brie sandwich
  • cheese and ham sandwich
  • huge chocolate croissant
  • cranberry scone

All got eaten in the evening/some for breakfast and croissant is saved for an afternoon treat. Thinking of doing the same with a bakery and freezing the catch :)
OP posts:

KellyHall · 17/01/2020 07:52

When you peel potatoes, do it over a large oven tray then sprinkle the peelings with salt, toss and bake in to home made crisps - yummy!


minipie · 17/01/2020 09:35

There’s also a food sharing app called Olio where people can offer up food they won’t use to neighbours. I haven’t tried it tho


Emmie412x · 20/01/2020 10:53

Once again, thanks for the tips.

I have a big amount of cornflakes that no one seems to be keen on eating. I have used them instead of breadcrumbs when making home made chicken nuggets or similar - it has barely made a dent.

Over the weekend I discovered that if I run them through a blender I end up with cornflake powder which works beautifully in waffles!

I also discovered at the back of the fridge Philadelphia, unopened, expiry date 1/1/2020. If it doesn't smell, taste or look weird, I assume I am still okay to use it up?

OP posts:

Whiskeychaser · 20/01/2020 11:03

Definitely ok to eat if it passes the look, smell & taste test.


Whiskeychaser · 20/01/2020 11:21

I use bbd or expiry dates as a guide and use my judgement with the look, smell, & taste test. Some stuff lasts quite a bit longer than it says it will.

I have a contents list on my freezer, and when I buy new items the newer items go at the back of the fridge/freezer/cupboards.
I'm trying to use up stuff in the freezer rather than buying new things.
I meal plan every few days and I'm just trying to buy the basics atm when needed, so I'm relying on my stores to meal plan.
A new thing I've implemented is to keep the bits of veg (or any leftovers) I'd normally throw away eg, broccoli stalk cauliflower leaves, etc, and then once there's enough (for 4 portions) I'm making soup from it. I've been impressed so far as the soup has been lovely. I keep it in the fridge, but transfer to the freezer if I feel it's taking too long to get enough.

I also keep the juices from cooking any meat, and transfer the jelly left behind to the freezer to use as stock in other recipes. I scrape the fat off and will use for frying veg as it then imparts more flavour.

Love the idea with the potato peelings though. Will try that, maybe even with carrots/ parsnips, etc, too.


TW2013 · 20/01/2020 15:49

Made crisps with potato peelings and paprika. Omitted to inform the rest of the family and ate them all myself. Just to check that they were edible of course!


minipie · 20/01/2020 18:16

eg, broccoli stalk

Shock the stalk is the best bit, we have to share it out in my house!


Whiskeychaser · 20/01/2020 21:45

That's what I usually keep by for a friendnthat has a Guinea pig, but it made tasty soup, so no more for mr.pig Grin

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