We are all guilty of creating food waste. Overly ambitious trips to the supermarket, accompanied by a promise to be healthy that week, can mean ending up with an overabundance of vegetables that just won’t get used to. Life gets in your way, a takeout or an impromptu meal can derail even the most organized meal prep plan.
In the UK, food waste generated by households (rather than businesses) accounts for 70% of all food waste, according to Wrap, a non-profit organization focused on reducing food, packaging and packaging waste. textile. Edible food that is thrown away totals 4.5 million tons a year, while every day 20 million whole slices of bread, 4.4 million potatoes and 2.2 million slices of ham are wasted.
It is also an expensive habit. Love Food Hate Waste, a charity that fights food waste, estimates that a household of four can save an average of £60 a month, or over £700 a year, just by reducing their food waste.
Besides being simply inefficient, excessive food waste contributes to the climate crisis. About 6% to 8% of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced if we stopped wasting food according to the charity WWF (Worldwide Wildlife Fund). This is because of wasted emissions used to produce and transport food that is then not used, as well as emissions produced by rotting food sent to landfill.
However, all of our collective efforts to waste less can make a big difference to the environment. Since 2007, efforts to reduce food waste in the UK have saved 5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, equivalent to taking 2.1 million cars off the road.
By learning the best ways to store perishables and finding ways to use older foods to create delicious new meals, you’ll shop further while battling a serious food waste crisis at the same time. Here are some great recipes to get you started.
Zucchini Fritters are a great way to use up old zucchini and make a great alternative for weekend brunch (get moving, avocado toast!).
To make four donuts, to serve two people, Olive magazine recommends using one egg, 50 grams of self-rising flour and 50 ml of water, mixed with turmeric and cumin. Then add a spiralized zucchini (or simply cut into very thin strips using a vegetable peeler or a knife) and stir it into the batter mixture.
Then the mixture simply needs to be divided into four batches in the pan and cooked for two to three minutes on each side. Of course, you can scale up the recipe and make more to use more zucchini! According to Nigella, spare donuts can be frozen, but only if they’re separated by parchment paper and used within a month.
Roast vegetables for easy side dishes
When it comes to vegetables, the freezer is your friend. No, you don’t have to eat three meals a day consisting of only vegetables in a last-ditch effort to use up everything you have in your fridge.
Instead, cork all sorts of vegetable combinations – cut roughly the same size to make cooking easier – and toss them in the oven drizzled with olive oil, salt and a few herbs of your choice for roasting (which usually takes 30-40 minutes, but adjust accordingly). Once done, you can store the chilled portions in the freezer and you have a quick and easy side dish for many meals to come.
Instagram chef “fastfoodmystyle” recommends thyme and sage as herb accompaniments, while Delicious Magazine suggests a dreamy combination of parsley, lemon and cumin.
If you’re cooking a chicken for a good Sunday roast, then you’ll want to use up any bits of meat left on the bone (you can also find out why a meatless diet is good for the planet here). Curries are a great way to use up leftover tender pre-cooked meat – with very little extra cooking hassle.
Instagram account Amy’s Meal Plan, which is dedicated to making leftovers go further, recommends making chicken biryani because it can be made in one pot and uses common cupboard items for leftover ingredients.
In addition to the chicken, you will need 300g rice, 1 large chopped onion, dried bay leaves, cardamom, curry powder, 850ml chicken stock, a good handful of grapes beans, tomato puree and about 75 g of butter for cooking.
To cook, start by sautéing the onion, adding the bay leaf and four cardamom pods when they begin to soften. Then add a turmeric shake, the chicken pieces, a few tablespoons of tomato puree, a few teaspoons of curry powder and a few raisins, and mix.
When these ingredients are well combined, add the rice and stock water, bring to a boil, then put the lid on and simmer for 20 minutes until the rice is cooked and the stock is absorbed. That’s it!
Even if you like ripe bananas, after a certain point they can start to look a little too soft and the temptation to throw them away is strong.
However, bananas are incredibly versatile and can be used in a number of desserts. BBC Good Food recommends several, including a classic banana bread that takes just 20 minutes to make and 1 hour 15 minutes in the oven. However, not all of us are natural bakers, so if even the thought of trying to use baking soda scares you, there is a chocolate baked banana option, which only has three ingredients.
If you opt for this, simply make a slit in the top of each old banana (save the peels), add chocolate buttons in the middle, wrap each individually in loose foil packets and put in a heated oven at 200C / 180C fan/gas 6 for 25 minutes until skins turn black. Then serve the nice gooey banana-chocolate combo with ice cream (you can also cook them on the barbecue).
Alternatively, foodie Instagram account The Wandering Chickpea has a gorgeous Middle Eastern-inspired banana bread made with aged bananas, tahini, olive oil, milk, flour, baking powder and baking soda, brown sugar and cane sugar, and is flavored with cinnamon and Rendez-vous. Check it out!
Pizza is a great format to use up leftovers. Everything tastes better with tomato sauce and cheese, and you can mix in all kinds of toppings.
The Love Food Hate Waste Instagram account recommends using forgotten flatbreads (alternatively, a few pittas for smaller pizzas would do) and adding any veggies you might have on hand. This recipe opts for aged mushrooms and spinach as toppings. Both are items that tend to have to be used up pretty quickly before they get a little sad, but they’re easily revived here.
Start by adding tomato puree, a dash of water, dried oregano and paprika to the flatbread, then grated cheese, add leftover mushrooms and spinach (or other bits), before drizzle with olive oil, a little black pepper and grill for 10-15 minutes.
A quick homemade pizza can be useful using things like cherry tomatoes, peppers, and slices of sandwich ham or salami if you eat meat.
Leftover curry toast and Poppadom nachos to go
It’s very easy to overorder when you click on these takeout options. But don’t feel guilty, it just means more chances to use up delicious leftovers.
Too Good to Go, the app that lets you “save” food at risk of being thrown out by restaurants and cafes, has some really smart ways to use takeout in its recipe lists.
If you have leftover curry and mango chutney, they recommend turning it into a toastie for your lunch the next day. Take two slices of bread with mayo or butter on one side, the last of your chutney on the other. Then add the remaining curry to the chutney side – and top with grated cheese if desired. Then add another slice of bread, chutney side in, mayo/butter side out, and fry both sides for two minutes until the bread is a little crispy and the cheese is melted .
If you have an oversupply of poppadoms, they make great nachos. Simply add a nacho topping of mixed beans with spices, tomatoes and shredded cheese to the broken poppadoms and broil for five to 10 minutes. Serve with cilantro, sour cream and guac.
Finally, these leftover naan can be perfect for a sandwich wrap or pizza base (see above for “leftover everything” pizza ideas.)