Waste Free Feb – Day 8 – Reducing Food Waste

One area of waste that became more and more apparent as we recycled more was food waste. To some extent it is inevitable that there will be some waste as we are a family of 5 and the children don’t always clear their plates.

Composting

The first thing we did was to set up a compost bowl in the kitchen for our of our fresh fruit and vegetable peelings/waste. We are lucky to have a garden big enough that we can have a compost heap. Reusing these scraps by composting them to make rich compost for the garden is definitely a win:win situation!.

Other things you can compost are:

  • Small amounts of brown cardboard
  • Coffee grounds
  • Eggshells
  • Grass clippings
  • Hair
  • Hedge clippings
  • Leaves
  • Bedding from small pets (gerbils, hamster etc) – will mostly be wood shavings.
  • Old plants (not weeds).

We have tried different methods of storing compost before it goes out to the heap and we have found our favourite is to have a large bowl and line with a sheet of newspaper and store on a shelf in the freezer. By doing this we have no issue with the bowl getting dirty, no smells and most importantly in the summer – no flies!

Reducing Food Waste

We meal plan our evening meals and our lunches tend to be leftovers or sandwiches/crackers. This means that we more what we need only and ensure we do not have fresh food that will not be used. When cooking food I do tend to cook a big batch in one go and then put the leftovers into individual pots ready to be eaten. I also stack these pots in the fridge with the oldest at the front so they are being eaten in the right order.

Its good to check your fridge every few days to see if anything needs using up. Sometimes I’ll move some containers of soup or chilli into the freezer so that I can have an omelette or salad for the next few days to use up the fresh things. Having a freezer is an amazing asset to avoid food waste!

If you don’t use a lot of bread, you can store your bread in the freezer and just remove a couple of slices at a time as needed.

Love Food Hate Waste have an amazing website full of information on how to avoid food waste. It really is worth checking out.

For the leftovers that are left on plates that cant be re-eaten there are a few options – a Bokashi bin, a Green Johanna bin or a Wormery. We haven’t taken this step yet but it is something we are considering for the future.

Give your surplus food away!

If you do have too much of something and you know you won’t use it – give it away. There are many options:

  • For dry food that is in date – give to your local food bank collection point.
  • For fresh food – offer to your family & friends.
  • For any food – offer on the Olio app for people in your local community.


The Busy Week Healthier Meal Plan

In our family my husband works long hours, I work every day and we have three small children and a dog. Add in the fact that we both volunteer on committees, exercise regularly, have hobbies and the children do after school clubs and our weeks can get pretty busy. Having a good solid routine (that is habit) helps tremendously but some weeks an extra deadline or commitment can tip the balance and I need to focus on that and not spending lots of time in the kitchen.

Here is my version of a healthy eating meal plan when you are time short but wanting to still eat well.

NB: I normally try to make as much myself as possible in part to avoid excessive single use plastic. In weeks like this I have to put that desire to the side so that I can focus on health first. I am no health expert (clearly! haha) – this is just what we do instead of getting takeaways or buying lots of processed food and whilst it is far from perfect it is better than the take out option.

Mon – V – Vegetable stir fry

Buy a bag of stir fry vegetables and cook as per instructions on bag. At the same time boil a pan of water and put in a nest of medium egg noodles per person. Either add a sachet of stir fry sauce to the veggies or just add a splash of soy sauce and a sprinkle of Chinese 5 spice. Drain noodles, mix with veggies and serve.

Tue – F – Omega 3 Fish Finger Sandwiches

Cook Fish Fingers as per instructions on pack, serve in wholemeal or granary bread with lots of spinach and salad leaves.

Wed – V – Pesto Pasta loaded with Vegetables

I get a big pan out, chuck in some wholemeal pasta and an equal amount of frozen vegetables (green beans, peas, broccoli, spinach etc). Cook until the pasta is just cooked through and then drain. Mix with half a jar of red pesto and half a tub of soft cheese. Serve as it is or with a handful of salad leaves (from a bag) on the side.

Thu – F – Sardines on toast

Toast some wholemeal or granary bread. Add a tin of mashed up Sardines (the ones in tomato or spicy sauce are the best), sprinkle with a bit of grated cheese (buy pre grated if you have no time) and grill until it is warmed through and a little crispy on top.

My children normally have beans on toast instead of this – I am still working on convincing them…!

Fri – P – Chicken Wraps (or quorn if veggie)

Grab a bag of  frozen chicken strips/pieces, add some frozen sliced peppers – fry off and add the other half of the jar of red pesto (and a little water if too dry). Eat in wholemeal wraps with salad (from a bag if no time to prep).

Sat – V – Vegetable Soup & granary bread.

Either buy a fresh tub of soup from the supermarket (take caution though as they often have lots of salt and sugar) or buy a bag of diced sweet potato and butternut squash, put it in a pan, add a handful of frozen diced onion, two vegetable stock cubes and cover with water. Boil until cooked. Eat as it or blitz with a hand blender (you can make it less thick by adding more water).

Sun – P – Chicken Dinner

Put some chicken breasts in the oven (covered with foil) to cook. On the hob cook a selection of frozen vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, peas, green beans etc. Microwave a bag of frozen mashed potato. Once all cooked, serve with instant gravy.

Quick Healthy Snacks for the week (aside from fruit) can be:

Carrot batons (bought in a bag) with houmous or soft cheese.

Dried mango with a natural yoghurt ‘dip’.

Malt loaf slices.

Fruit toast lightly buttered.

Make it more guilt free:

To make it slightly more eco friendly make sure you check if the plastic bags are recyclable with carrier bags (a lot say on the back of the bag). One quick way to check is if the bag is stretchy (and not black) then it is likely to be able to be recycled. Save these up in a carrier bag and take to your local carrier bag recycling point (check your supermarket) or hand back to a delivery driver if you get online shopping. Also most plastic punnets can now be recycling along with the normal cardboard etc – check your local council for more info.

Healthy Meal Plan 1

I am going to share some of the meal plans I have used as I find sometimes seeing other peoples meals can provide ideas and inspiration.

As a rule of thumb I try to have two fish based meals (F), a minimum of two vegetarian meals a week (V), two poultry based meals (P) and one other (O). I made this decision as we were eating quite a lot of red meat and I know that this is something we should cut back on and we also were not eating enough fish.

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My Meal Plan – This was for the first week in January.

Mon – V – Homemade Tomato & vegetable pasta (using up mushrooms, courgette and green beans from the fridge).

Tue – F – Homemade Mackerel curry rice – using tinned mackerel (The Savvy Shopper Cookbook)

Wed – P – Homemade chicken super noodles + veg sticks (The Savvy Shopper Cookbook)

Thu – O – Quiche, new potatoes & salad

Fri – O – Homemade Macaroni cheese, with bacon, green beans, mushroom & courgette (pictured) (A Girl Called Jack Recipe Book)

Sat – V – Naan Bread Pizzas – using courgette, mushroom, pepper, baked beans and cheese

Sun – V – Crackers, Cheese, Veg Sticks, Chutneys (using up the Christmas food)

I have a few cookbooks that I come back to again and again for cheap, healthy, tasty but most importantly quick to make recipes. These are:
The Savvy Shopper’s Cookbook
A Girl Called Jack – 100 Delicious Budget Recipes
Cooking on a Bootstrap
Feeding Kids – The Netmums Cookery Book
If I use these recipes during my meal plan I will note next to them which book I’ve used.