Limp lettuce

Lettuce!!! I love a crispy iceberg, but nothing upsets me more than when it's started to turn brown and limp its way towards the bin.

I thought hey, there's got to be a solution, and according to the internet there is. Ideas range from storing your lettuce in water (too messy), separating all the leaves and storing each layer between kitchen roll (too fussy) and my favourite…cooking it!

Now this sounded weird to me at first but I thought id give it a whirl, there's various recipes in this excellent Guardian article such as lettuce soup, lettuce pesto or my personal favourite – stir fry.

Lettuce stir fry sounds strange but really what's the difference between a Chinese cabbage and a lettuce? In the grand scheme of things, absolutely nothing.

So I followed recipe number two from the above article and to test out its success, I served it to my better half without mentioning the secret ingredient, and guess what – approval all round.

Never again will the be a limping lettuce in my salad drawer again.

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Ice Ice Baby – Freezer Benefits

In an earlier post, Sausage, Chilli & Tomato Pasta, you probably noticed that a lot of the ingredients I used had been frozen.

Now I’ve spent a large proportion of my adult life in shared housing where I’ve had to store my entire grocery shop on one lonely fridge shelf, and freezer space was nothing but a luxury to dream of.

It’s only in the last couple of years where I’ve had the very grown up pleasure of not only my own flat but also access to a fridge & freezer that’s all mine.

The benefits of having a freezer came instantly, I was suddenly allowed to take advantage of supermarket offers that I never could before such as Sainsbury’s meat, poultry or fish 3 or £10 which is one of my most purchased offers.

Batch cooking and the ability to freeze leftovers has also been a huge benefit. If I cook 4 portions of Spaghetti Bolognese, no longer do I have to spend an entire week eating it as the wonders of Tupperware mean I can freeze it for a later date. For days when I’ve got caught back late at the office, it’s great to come home, not have to cook and still be able to eat a nutritious home cooked meal that’s awaiting me in the freezer.

Recently, since I embarked on my food waste frenzy, I’ve started to freeze even more stuff, not just fresh meat and leftovers. Half of the stuff I wasn’t even aware you could freeze.

Ice cube trays have become my new found friend, I’ve used them to freeze home-made stock, the left-over dregs of an unfinished wine bottle and the end of bunches of those pesky supermarket herbs which never get used up in one portion. Once frozen, you can tip the ice cubes of stock, wine etc. into a freezer bag, label up and keep until a later date when a recipe calls for the ingredient. Freezing items such as stock & wine, not only stops you throwing left-overs out, it reduces the need to buy big packets of these ingredients when a recipe only calls for a small amount.

In my experience, a lot of what you do and don’t freeze comes out of habit, for example I’d never thought to freeze items such as butter and milk but I’ve tried both recently with no adverse effects. The butter I’d taken advantage of a 2 for 1 offer and the milk I’d picked up a couple of pints only to arrive home to find my partner had done the same. In days gone by, both of these ingredients would probably have lingered on my fridge shelf, past their best and been confined to the bin, but the freezer came to the rescue.

Other items I’d never dreamed of freezing were fresh fruit & veg, but my foray into food waste has taught me that a lot of fresh fruit & veg can indeed be frozen with little detrimental effect on the ingredient. So far I’ve frozen chillies, celery, lemons and peppers. The advice seems to be in all instances to chop up the veg first and then freeze in freezer bags. The ingredients probably won’t be up to being used in a nice fresh salad but for stews & stir-frys etc. I haven’t noticed any negative effects on the flavour or the texture. I suppose if you think logically, you can already buy a lot of frozen vegetables so what’s the difference in doing it for yourself.

If you’re unsure about what you can and can’t freeze, Google and the blogging world will come to your rescue. As mentioned the positives of this are not only reducing waste, it also helps to reduce costs as you’ll have ingredients on hand and not have to buy new over-sized packets of stuff and you can take advantage of those supermarket offers that I generally advise against. I’ve also found that I do not have to visit the supermarket quite as often as I regularly find that I have enough ingredients in my freezer to knock up an ad-hoc meal on demand. So don’t be afraid to get cold and get freezing, hopefully you’ll start seeing all the benefits that I have

UK families throw away almost a meal a day!

I’ve wanted to start a blog for a while, but could never quite motivate myself to get started. The motivation came last week, when yet another news story broke about the insane amount of food wastage in the UK.

According to statistics in the Guardian, the average UK family is throwing away  almost a meal a day, a cost of £60 a month. When converted to food quantities, the numbers are mind-blowing (86 million chickens, 24 million slices of bread, 5.8 million potatoes….). In a country where food poverty is on the increase, as is the reliance of food banks, it’s staggering to think that the solution to these problems, may partially lie in our own kitchen cupboards.

In my experience, most food wastage in the house occurs due to over-buying, poor planning and a lack of cooking skills. We’ve all seen the Jamie Oliver campaigns on teaching the nation to cook and eat healthy meals, the consumer programmes advising how to reduce food waste & shopping bills, alongside the media criticism of the supermarkets’ contribution to the problem via BOGOFF offers and use by dates.

This blog, on the other hand, isn’t meant to be a campaign or a lecture. It isn’t intended to be a criticism of other peoples habits, it’s simply a narrative of how me, as a busy working professional, keeps food waste to the minimum. I’ll be updating people with weekly meal plans, shopping lists and attempts and failures at new recipes & ingredient combinations, for any one who’s interested in not only reducing food waste but also food in general.