20 ways to save money and avoid wasting food

I have had a rummage around on the internet to find the best tips to avoid throwing away food. There is some general advise and some which I specifically looked up because they combat things which often escape being eaten. So whether it is a problem with hiders at the back of  the fridge, or fluffy pesto I have the answers…… well some of them.

1. Walk or cycle to the supermarket – you are less likely to over shop if you know you are going to have to carry it all home.

2. Invest in a magnetic whiteboard for your fridge. Then you can write on the items which need using up first, or what to buy to go with what you already have.

3. Use over ripe bananas to make muffins or banana bread. If you don’t have time immediately peel and freeze them until you have a moment.

4. Don’t leave the fridge door open for unnecessary amounts of time or put food in the fridge which is not completely cold. Both these things compromise the efficiency of your fridge.

5. Best before, sell by and use by dates are not rules. Often food is perfectly fine after them, just use your eyes and nose.

6. Don’t shop when you are hungry. The amount of times I have gone shopping a little bit ravenous and come back with an overly plentiful and very strange assortment of food.

7. To use up any stale bread or just crusts: toast them, put them in a food processor or use a hand blender to make bread crumbs and then freeze until needed. Or chop them into cubes and freeze for croutons.

8. Make sure you are well stocked up on herbs and spices. This will mean that when you have left-overs to re-invent this will allow you to be more creative and come up with concoctions worth remembering.

9. Old lemons and limes can be used for de-greasing dirty dishes.

10. If you have zested a lemon/lime/orange – it won’t keep as long. So juice and freeze in an ice-cube tray until needed. Or just cut into slices, take out the pips and freeze – ready to ice and slice your G&T in one fine sweep!

11. Coconut milk is something that goes off quickly if you don’t use the whole tin – so freeze it in a Tupperware most suited to your portions.

12. Use chicken carcasses for making stock. Strip off most of the leftover meat and put aside for salads, sandwiches or adding to the stock later to make soup. Then cover the carcass in water, season, add herbs, onion, garlic and maybe celery. Boil and then turn to a low heat for three hours or more. The longer the more intense the flavour. Once cooled this can be frozen until needed.

13. Keep sliced bread in the freezer and only take out what you need.

14. Green leafy vegetables and whole lettuces keep a lot longer if treated like cut flowers. Cut a slice off the base of the stalk and place in a bowl of water / jug.

15. Pesto is always going off in my fridge, with fuzzy intruders lurking under the lid and round the edges of the jar. To avoid this, clean the excess pesto from around the lid and the neck of the jar. Then if the pesto looks a little dry, cover it in a bit of olive oil to preserve it. To just use it up a quicker, remember that it is always great in sauces, for a bit of extra basily-ness add to sauces, soups or even a tomato based stew or casserole.

16. Eat the stem of your broccoli as well as the florets! It is really tasty – just peel off any thick skin on the outside, slice. It works really well as a crunchy addition to a stir fry.

17. It might help to write down food which usually gets wasted in your house, and then buy less of it or replace it with something that is less likely to end up thrown away.

18. I always find that fresh herbs go off too quickly. A handy way of preserving them is to chop them up and put them in ice-cube trays or freezer bags with a tiny bit of water and then yes put them in the freezer.

19. Organise your fridge so there is a shelf dedicated to food that needs to be eaten asap.

20. Use all of the pineapple. Keep and boil up the peel and the core to create either a digestive tea or chilled juice, but remember to wash the pineapple before you peel it.

Thanks for reading!  If you have any tips of your own, comments would be greatly valued.

Some thoughts on celeriac and soup

I love celeriac and soup, so a combination of these two things makes me very happy. I am going to share my recipe for a chunky vegetable soup with a celeriac base. This is the first of a series of recipes I am going to write – intending to revive and inspire the use of this vegetable. It is such a great ingredient – it has a stronger flavour than celery without the stringy-ness some people hate. It gives a velvety texture which is quite similar to potato (but is much lower in starch) and is in short a perfect soup ingredient. It is a vegetable which is sadly overlooked. I have often found that people don’t know what to do with it, or even what it is. It does look quite strange – the white old man of root vegetables. Its appearance is also slightly reminiscent of the ‘root baby’ in Pan’s Labyrinth  – for those of you I have already lost along the wayside, I have included a picture comparison below.

Leeks, celeriac and carrots - all waiting impatiently to get into my soup.

Leeks, celeriac and carrots – all waiting impatiently to get into my soup.

Celeriac relative in the bowl?

Celeriac relative in the bowl?

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium celeriac
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 leeks
  • 2 onions
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 3 sticks of celery
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1800ml stock
  • 1 generous glug of olive oil

Use the celeriac as a base and then vary the other ingredients according to what you have in the house. A soup is the perfect way to use up tired vegetables and prevent them from going to waste.

Method:

Dice the onions and mince the garlic and gently cook on a low heat for about 10-15 minutes,  stirring regularly until they are translucent, but not coloured.  Meanwhile peel and cube the celeriac and chop the other vegetables. Add everything to the pot and allow to sweat on a low – medium heat for a further 5-10 minutes. (A low heat preserves the vitamin content and flavour) Then add the stock and cook for an hour minimum – long slow cook is better. I like to half-blend this soup. By this I mean when it is cooked I take out half the soup put it in a food processor (or a magi-mix and a big bowl works well) and then put the blended half back with the rest and cook for a further 5 minutes. The result of this is a chunky soup with a smooth base, avoiding the reminder of baby food which a completely processed soup sometimes gives.

Left-overs into Jambalaya!

Among my crowded shelf of cookbooks I discovered  an old brown copy bearing the somewhat ironic name ‘Modern Cookery’. It looked out of place among its brightly coloured neighbours, who boasted celebrity names and colour images. It turned out to be the guide of choice for all my grandmother’s meals and while some of the advice it gives is best forgotten (forty minutes for cooking leeks!) there is wisdom to be found.

A whole chapter is dedicated to ‘New Dishes from Left-overs’.  This is something like clever PR job in your own home. Take something old, give it new bedfellows and a different dish is born. This section indicates how much our attitudes to food have changed in just a couple of generations, highlighting the culture of excess we now live in. I’m not saying we should return to rationing, but perhaps just remember some of those values which are so alien to us.  You would be very hard pushed to find a section in a modern cookbook that includes ideas for re-inventing excess ingredients.
 I decided to make something with the remains of yesterdays roast beef, which was lurking in the fridge and threatening to be forgotten. I also had some chorizo, cherry tomatoes and a bell pepper coveting a position in what I decided was going to be a Jambalaya of sorts.
So anyway here is my very easy Jambalaya inspired dish.

Because the aim of this dish is to use up left-overs, proportions and specific ingredients are not that important. But I’ll write down the essentials and the variables.
Essential ingredients:

  • 250g of any rice (I like brown short grain)
  • 1 tin of peeled plum tomatoes/chopped tomatoes
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, (or to taste) minced
  • pinch chilli flakes or powder, (more if you want it really spicy)
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • glug of olive oil
  • 125ml red wine or alternatively stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • seasoning

Variable ingredients:

    • Vegetables: I used a few handfuls of cherry tomatoes, one red bell pepper, a few spring onions and a handful of spinach. Alternatively any kind of pepper, aubergine, courgettes or tomatoes would work well. Coriander optional.

    • Meat or beans: I used around 400g of roast beef (chopped into chunks is better than sliced here) and 100g of choritzo. You could use any left-over meat you have! For a vegetarian version use any kind of tinned beans 400g and add extra veg – but remember to add a few tsp of paprika if you are not using chorizo.

Method:

  1. For the rice, cover with boiling water and simmer until nearly cooked, then drain and set to the side.

  2. Saute the onions garlic and chorizo in olive oil on a medium heat with a pinch of salt, until the onions become transluscent.

  3. Then the meat/beans and vegetables of choice and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes.

  4. Then add wine or stock, tin of tomatoes, oregano and chilli and simmer for 10 minutes

  5. Finally add the rice and cook until tender.

  6. Serve and enjoy!