Watching Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s recent BBC series, I was astonished by the colossal amount of waste this country produces. I was staggered to learn that the average household in the UK throws away 25% of the food that we buy and I was disgusted to see the enormous piles of vegetables that farmers are forced to throw away because supermarkets have ‘cosmetic standards’ when it comes to how straight the average parsnip is. To see family farms forced to go out of business by these supermarkets, made my blood boil and made me shout even louder about the importance of shopping at farmers’ markets where the local producer can sell directly to the customer and where bendy cucumbers and short, stumpy parsnips are welcome.
So, inspired by HFW, I have been really aware of waste in the house (although I think we probably do OK). I compost all our peelings, teabags, coffee grounds, egg shells and tumble dryer fluff, we make a roast chicken dinner stretch to packed lunch sandwiches on Monday, risotto for dinner and stock for soup, I recycle all our plastic and paper and the garden gets watered from the water butts. However, because I have been mulling over the whole issue of waste, I guess I have become even more careful and so here are five top tips that I have been practising and which I would love to share with you. If you’ve got a minute, then why not send me your five tips back and before long we’ll have a whole book full!
1. I always have scappy old bits of cheese in the fridge that are too small to slice or grate. So collect them all up, the more varietes the better so even the rock solid end of the month old parmasan, is a treasure, and either make cauliflower cheese or just freeze the sauce for when you need it.
2. Gather up the crushed up, dusty remnants from the bottom of the cereal bag and make krispie cakes . They can be a whole mix of Cheerios, corn flakes, Krispies or shreddies – who cares when they covered in chocolate?
3. Every few weeks I dare to delve into the bottom of the bread bin where I dig out the stales old bits of sliced loaf, pitta and an occassional bread roll and I whizz them into breadcrumbs and stick them in the freezer ready to use in bread sauce or chicken nuggets.
4. I must admit I have only done this once and it did make me feel a bit Domestic Goddess, which I’m not sure I liked but hey, it stopped me chucking food away! So, those wilted bits of coriander, basil, dill and other herbs that you use but don’t necessarily grow? Resue them from the mouldy little plastic bag they are shuffed inside, in the corner of the fridge, chop them up and make ice cubes from them. Honestly, you will use them over the next twelve months and it will feel good!
5. Finally, I must credit this one to Nicola Miller of The Miller’s Tale who Tweeted this tip a few months ago and it is right up my street. If you are a Granola eater than you will know that the end of the bag is always a bit ‘un-granolaly’ as the oats and the fruit and the honey all become a bit unstuck. So bag it up and next time you make a crumble, pour the old granola on the top and hey presto, it makes the most delicious crumble topping! Magic!
If you are inspired by any of these tips or if you would generally like to learn more about cutting down on waste, then why not join us, upstairs at Lavenham Farmers Market, on Sunday, February 22nd when Justin Kett, Head Chef at The Swan Hotel, Lavenham, will be showing us all how to make delicious family meals using nothing but leftovers. It will be an amazing opportunity to learn directly from one of the region’s very best chefs and, as with all our workshops, it will be fun, informal and packed full of information!