Did you know that the average household wastes around £470 worth of food and drink every year, even more for families? The most common reasons for throwing out food is that we cook too much or it gets left too long and spoils. As a budget cook, preventing food waste is high on my list of priorities. I go shopping weekly and buy exactly what I need for that week with the help of meal plans and a shopping list. Because I am on such a tight budget, if some thing goes to waste, I don’t have the luxury of buying any thing else. I make sure I eat before I go food shopping so I am not tempted to buy any thing that isn’t on the shopping list. Other wise, I would end up buying junk that just sits in the fridge or cupboard until it starts growing some other kind of life form! The only things I buy that aren’t on my shopping list are £2-5 worth of shopping for the food bank each week. You can also donate any thing in your cupboard which you are unlikely to use that is unused and in date.
My meal plans are different every week so we don’t eat the same thing week after week! The meals for each week will include the same kind of ingredients as well as the trusty kitchen cupboard staples.
I thought the best way to explain how I keep my food waste to a minimum is to share my week of meals. It isn’t in any particular order so don’t worry, I don’t eat chicken four days in a row! The meals feed two hungry adults, one fussy toddler and one weaning 11 month old baby. So there is no need to cook separate meals or buy baby food. I do not have time to cook meals in bulk and freeze them so they are all quick and easy to prepare, my three-year old daughter helps with every meal so she knows exactly what goes into her food. Maybe one day she will be a thrifty cook too!
I buy a whole chicken and separate the meat so it can be used in 3-4 different meals. This dish uses the chicken breasts from the chicken, the sauce is made from ingredients from the kitchen cupboard and the bacon, which will be used in another meal at the end of the week.
Moroccan Chicken Curry With Cauliflower Rice:
Cauliflower rice is a clever way of getting extra vegetables into my families diet but its top secret! Again, this dish includes meat from the chicken legs and the stock is made from boiling the chicken carcass.
Chicken Taco Ramen:
As I don’t like to waste a thing, I use all the leftover bits of chicken from the legs, wings and carcass in this dish. If there isn’t any leftover meat, it is just as delicious meat free. I use frozen sweet corn as I can just take what I need from the bag. It saves money and reduces waste.
Chilli and Rice:
This is pretty much your bog standard chilli. I buy and cook more than I need and put the leftovers in the fridge for tomorrow nights meal.
Chilli and Nachos:
Heat up the leftover chilli, heat up the nachos, top with cheese and sour cream….delicious!
Cheesey vegetable Bake:
I got the recipe for this from another fellow blogger Mrs Bash Says… It is all the leftover vegetables, plus a few extras in a cheese sauce. So simple and yummy!
Soup is a really good way of using up any leftover vegetables, pulses and meat. I make it quite a lot, just so I don’t waste any food so it’s a cheap meal to make. Minestrone soup is so versatile, you can put any vegetables, pulses or any type of pasta or rice too. Because it has so many components, it’s pretty filling. I have used lentils as they bulk out a soup and store well in the cupboard, you could use any kind of beans, such as baked beans, as long as you drain them first. I have made this from all the leftovers from the meals during the week and I have added extra water and rice so it is enough to have for lunch tomorrow too. If you are vegetarian, use vegetable stock instead of beef.
Serves 4 Costs 32p a Serving
1 onion, finely sliced
3 small carrots, peeled and chopped
50g bacon, cut into 1cm squares
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 litre beef stock, made with 2 stock cubes
400g tinned chopped tomatoes
50g lentils or a can of beans, drained
100g pasta or rice
1 tsp dry mixed herbs
2 tbsp tomato purée
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp mild chilli powder
Salt and Pepper
- Fry bacon until crispy, add onion, carrots and garlic.
- Stir continuously for 5 minutes on a low heat or until vegetables are soft.
- Add stock and tomato purée, bring to the boil. Add tomatoes, mixed herbs, paprika, chilli powder, lentils, rice and salt and pepper to taste.
- Bring to the boil again. Simmer for 30 minutes. Serve.
Remember to freeze any thing that you aren’t going to use straight away. Using your freezer to your advantage is the best advice I coud give to you. Separate and freeze your meat as soon as you can. You can freeze almost every thing such as, vegetables, fresh herbs, bread, milk, fruit, fresh ginger, chillies and this is a controversial one but, you can even freeze ready-made sandwiches for the weeks packed lunches!
The Waste-less Journey has been created by AO.com