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Food

Food waste: don't chuck the leftovers

by Sarah Randell

Serves: 2

We're all guilty of wasting food now and again – I've been known to throw out a mouldy loaf of bread or a wilting half-used pack of herbs – and a quick poll round the office showed I'm not the only one. Soggy bags of salad, opened jars of pesto, zested lemons, shrivelled chillies and past-its-best cheese are our most frequently thrown-out items.

But it's not just us – the news today is that two billion tonnes of food ends up in the bin each year – that's half of all the food produced in the world.

We spoke to the team at WRAP, an organisation that runs the Love Food Hate Waste initiative and has helped reduce food waste in the UK by over one million tonnes. 'Although people in the UK are now throwing away less food and saving money, of the 7.2m tonnes still being wasted, 4.4m tonnes is totally avoidable. This food waste costs the average family £480 every year,' they said.

It's time to put a stop to it, and we've come up with some great ideas and recipes for reducing our waste and making sure you actually get to enjoy all the food you buy! What are your tips for reducing waste? Tell us in the comments box below.

Plan ahead. We're not talking becoming a slave to a strict weekly menu, just roughly planning when you're going to be out socialising and when you'll be cooking at home so you can avoid over-buying and eventual waste.

Share buy-one-get-one-frees. We all love a bargain, but if you're not going to use that free pack of prawns or bag of oranges, give them to a friend or neighbour rather than letting them go off.

Make double batches of recipes and freeze half so you can take advantage of offers on larger packs of food while avoiding waste.

Use frozen veg. If you end up throwing away lots of fresh veg, buy less of it and use frozen veg a couple of times a week instead – it's just as nutritious.

Use up what you already have rather than buying more. It's a great excuse to get creative in the kitchen!

Make soup using blanched leftover veg. You can add half-used bags of salad to soups, too.

Use up your loaf. Make croutons or breadcrumbs from leftover bread and freeze them. Mix them into salads and stuffings or fry breadcrumbs in butter with sea salt and sprinkle on to gratins or toss with pasta.

Grate leftover cheese and freeze it, ready to use in recipes.

Make smoothies from overripe fruit.

Check out Love Food Hate Waste for more info and tips.

Don't let leftover cooked veg go to waste. Use up roast veggies from your Sunday lunch and turn them into a spicy hash for a midweek supper. If eggs aren't your thing, fry chorizo, bacon or pancetta with the leftover veg, or serve the hash with leftover cold cuts. Serve with salad.

SPICED ROAST VEGETABLE HASH WITH FRIED EGGS

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tbsp groundnut or light olive oil
  • a few cloves of garlic, unpeeled and smashed
  • 500g mix leftover cooked veg, such as roast potatoes, parsnips, butternut squash, red onion and peppers
  • fresh thyme
  • 2 eggs

Method

  1. Heat the mustard seeds and fennel seeds in a large frying pan until fragrant; transfer to a saucer and leave to cool.
  2. Heat the oil in the frying pan and, when sizzling, add the garlic cloves and cook for a minute or so. Add the cooked veg and toss over the heat for 5-6 minutes.
  3. Tip the mustard and fennel seeds back into the pan and add some freshly ground black pepper and a generous sprinkling of thyme; mix together.
  4. Make two indents in the vegetable mixture and crack an egg into each one (use 4 eggs if you’re really hungry). Cook for 5 minutes until the white is set and the yolk is runny.
  5. Serve the hash on warmed plates.

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