Helen’s Home Cooking: Cutting Down Food Waste Tips


food wasteWell Christmas is by, I do hope you all had a good one however…….

I shudder to think what food we all threw away; and if you are like me, it’s often a case of one down one to go; not because I don’t love the festive season, I do, but because it usually means another massive meal to prepare, this time for New Years Day feeding six. So the very first thing I want to do is sit down and reflect on how did the six courses for ten on Boxing Day go, did I have enough food, did everybody enjoy themselves and could I do anything different to help stop food waste?

I would always recommend preparing a menu, it sounds logical however you’d be surprised at the amount of people that don’t. Also think of food that is good for reheating; this not only gives you leftovers, but can hopefully allow the cook a well earned night off away from the kitchen.

The second thing I do is go back over the menu and a bit like Coco Channel who famously said “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take at least one thing off,” I remove an item from every course. What do I mean by this, well first and foremost remember; you are not feeding the five thousand, but your family and friends, so…. limit the choices; do we really need prawns as well as salmon, do we really need bread with soup, surely if we are having carrots, neeps and sprouts we can do without the parsnips; one pudding not two. The only course that I ever tend to ever add to is the biscuits and cheese. This way if people don’t yet feel like their bellies are about to do an impersonation of Vesuvius they can sit, nibble and yarn until their hearts content. This is my favourite part of every meal as people are satisfied, relaxed and hopefully by now having a great time. It is also the course that may have the longest shelf life too, so it won’t then matter if you have any leftovers.

The other thing I recommend is, if and where you can, make everything yourself from scratch. I know, I know, it sounds like giving yourself a lot of work, but it does cut down on what you buy. How many of us buy Melba toasts and only use half of what’s in the box; by using plain bread and making your own*, not only can you get fed up doing it, but when you do get fed up you will still use the remaining bread. This applies to nearly everything that you’d buy pre prepared. By making your own, potato croquettes, roast potatoes as examples you only make as many as you will need, which not only cuts down on food waste but it doesn’t clog up your freezer for months on end either.

Once you know exactly what you now need for your meal, write out a shopping list and wherever you can, stick to it. If using Supermarkets; I try and write everything in the order I imagine it in the shop thereby avoiding aisles that I don’t need to visit. To avoid package wastage try and buy from small grocers, this usually comes with the added benefit of not only buying exactly what you need; one leek instead of a plastic wrapped pack of three but it also keeps our small shops open and our High streets alive.

If you know of anybody that keeps small animals, find out if they would like any raw vegetable peelings, the animals will love them and your bins won’t fill up as fast either. If this is not an option then boil everything up for stock, which you drain and can then use either for your gravy or keep for soup. This works for nearly all vegetables. If you have the facility then compost what you have left.

Something else I love to suggest is packaging up any leftover food you may have and handing it into folk. Just because you’ve had enough Turkey to last until next year doesn’t mean that wee Jeanie or Jimmy doon the road wouldn’t be delighted to receive it.

I hope this helps with any preparations that you have. Please get in touch if you need any further advice.

But most of all; Have a Wonderful New Year, here’s hoping for a fantastic 2020.

Here’s a wee list:

  1. Make a menu
  2. Remove an item from every course
  3. Prepare a shopping list and stick to it
  4. Make everything from scratch
  5. Use local shops
  6. Check sell by dates eg buy biscuits with long shelf lives
  7. Keep all vegetable scraps for wee animals or stock
  8. Hand in meals to neighbours
  9. Compost any food waste
  10. Don’t forget to recycle
  11. Enjoy

*Melba Toast, Use plain bread; remove the crusts, cut into four or five soldiers, toast both sides, slice up the middle to reveal the untoasted white insides and toast.

GS-PieChart-430x450v2 Food waste

Top five foods we waste by weight (Greener Scotland)


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