So after reviewing Zero waste home by Bea Johnson I said I was going to participate in Zero Waste Week which this year is focusing on food waste. Turns out that even knowing that this week was coming and therefore being more mindful about what was coming in, a lot has still gone out!
I usually have a rough menu plan for the week, however this week I was mindful of trying to use things up so as to not waste them. We often batch cook so have several meals that are quick to heat up on the three nursery nights a week. Saturday is usually wild card night to use anything up but this week it ended up being Wednesday as there were so many things about to go off.
||Butternut squash lasagne (left over from Sunday)
||Butternut squash lasagne
||Quorn Pasta bake
||Quorn Pasta bake
||Fish Pie (Frozen)
||Quorn Pasta bake, tofu wiener & coleslaw
||Beetroot & Goats Cheese Salad
||Spaghetti Bolognese (Frozen)
||Sausages & Frozen Yorkshires (that had been around a while!)
||Sausages & Yorkshires
||Tagine (made on Saturday)
||Tagine & Rice
In total I managed to “save” several items
- Mini mozzarella balls – ended up in the pasta bake.
- Pasta shells – ended up in the pasta bake.
- Tofu wieners
- The end of some goats cheese.
As for the waste, I’ve decided to try and use each item that has gone as an opportunity to learn. I should be clear, I’m not counting food waste (e.g. vegetable peelings) but rather food I have wasted. The grand total at the end of the week has been:
- Half a (mouldy) melon.
- Half a jar of mayonnaise that had gone funky even by my standards
- Crackers/bread sticks/oatcakes that were stale.
- 3 (mouldy) half lemons
- Half a pot of hummus
- Half a bag of funky spinach
- 1 portion of fish pie
Lesson 1. Visibility – Don’t forget you have a melon, or for that matter fish pie in the freezer.
Lesson 2. Correct storage. After eating half a melon, don’t leave the other half covered on the side for 24 hours when it is sweltering. Put it in the fridge. Equally breadsticks and crackers stored correctly last much longer than in open packets.
Lesson 3. More is not always cost effective. – Although the cost per gram is cheaper in a larger jar, the speed at which I consume mayonnaise would have made a small jar more economical. It’s better to use all of a small jar than half a large jar.
Lesson 4. Using waste food often takes creativity and time. Factor this in to life. In hindsight the stale crackers & breadsticks could have been used to form the base of a savoury cheese cake, however I have no plans to make this anytime soon due to time constraints.
Lesson 5. Stock rotation 101 – Agree as a household on a where things are kept so food is used sequentially. Clear storage containers would also have helped with this, so I might employ some of Bea Johnson’s go to solution: Jam jars!
Lesson 6. Take responsibility for your own waste – While there are somethings I’m willing to eat, others are my wife’s responsibility. She went away mid week and it didn’t last until she got back. Equally the fish pie was completely my responsibility as she is a vegetarian.
Lesson 7. Pay attention to food you don’t eat as much. This again was the wife’s and while I don’t eat as much of it (she is Popeye) I would have eaten it if I had noticed it before it dissolved.
Lesson 8. If it’s been in the freezer for a year, I’m not eating it – We need a stock rotation system for the freezer for the infrequent items.
Other lessons I have learnt:
Lesson 9. Bizarre combinations of food are edible, even if they won’t make the regular meal plan. Wednesday night’s dinner was left over pasta & quorn bake, tofu wieners and coleslaw.
Lesson 10. Portion appropriately. The pasta bake was more successful this week as I halved the amount of pasta so it fed us all one night with only one portion left over for my lunch (which I had forgotten I didn’t need).
Lesson 11. Don’t stockpile items as whims can change like the wind blows. We currently have 13 tins of chickpeas and 3 packs of cod pieces (plus various other fish in the freezer from when my daughter was eating fish). My action plan at the end of Zero Waste week is to identify oven baked cod recipes I can do easily.
So how have you been doing with reducing your food waste? What are your top tips? Do you have regular offenders that get wasted?
If you are in the mood for a different minimalist challenge, Anne over at Minimalist Sometimes is doing a 21 day declutter challenge getting rid of 231 items in 21 days (Day 1 = 1 item, Day 2 = 2 etc). Current circumstances mean I’m not going to join, however if you need the motivation…