Love leftovers

Here’s a joint Learn to Eat Well and Survival Guide for the Skint blog post for Christmas.

We throw away a staggering 8.3million tonnes of food every year in this country. That’s a shocking figure and something a skint person can’t afford to contribute to.

Reasons why you might end up wasting food this Christmas

  • Shops are desperate to sell you more than you need. Beware the eye-catching special offers that encourage you to get larger quantities. They can be very good value if you actually use the food. If you end up throwing it away, they’re very bad value.
  • Cooking for a different number of people to usual can make it tricky to gauge exactly how much you need.
  • You keep extra food in the house in case of unexpected guests and visitors.

Reduce the amount of waste that you create

  • Plan meals ahead and use a list when you shop.
  • Look at sell-by dates on any multiple offers. Buy only things that will last long enough for you to be sure that you can use them.
  • Buy food that freezes well and can be used later when you need it. I made my mince pies a couple of weeks ago and froze them. They’re lovely warmed up.
  • Use serving dishes when people come to dinner. You might overestimate their appetite or want to appear generous and overload their plate. Over-facing people means they are embarrassed and they’ll make themselves suffer by forcing down more than they need. Let them serve themselves so they can take exactly what they want and eat all of it.

Make best use of what’s left

Buying or preparing too much food needn’t mean that any is wasted.

  • Invest in a range of clip-top boxes. I often buy cream cheese and keep the containers which are a handy size for storing food for lunches.
  • Keep leftovers in the fridge for one or two days if you can think of exactly when you’ll eat them. ‘Just in case’ usually means ‘not at all’ then when you later find them covered in mould they have to go in the bin). So if you can’t identify just when you’ll eat your leftovers, put them in the freezer, in useful portions.

How to use leftovers

  • My lunch very often happens like this:

I put a good knob of butter in a small pan, add half a stick of celery cut into little pieces, pop in my leftovers (might be some mince, chicken, fish, veg etc), perhaps throw in a handful of spinach leaves or a bit of carrot (leftovers again). When it has warmed through I might put some cream cheese in and stir it round to make a sort of sauce. I usually serve it with a buttered rice cake. Delicious.

If I’m working away from home, I can take a container of salad with leftover meat or fish.

  • Make soup. For Christmas, I’ll strip the carcass after the meal and boil up the bones to make stock. The remaining meat can be fried with leftover potatoes and veg plus mushrooms to make a delicious Boxing Day tea. Then I’ll make chicken soup with the stock and throw in anything else that’s leftover.
  • is a site full of ideas on what to do with your leftovers. (Great recipes although personally I never cook with vegetable oil as it is unsaturated fat and therefore becomes damaged when heated.)

I wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous 2012.


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