I’m about half way through my #FoodSavvy Challenge now and so I thought I’d give you an update on how things are going.
During the first week of the #FoodSavvy Challenge we shopped, stored food and cooked like normal. I weighed any avoidable food waste that we had to throw out. This was mostly just food the baby didn’t finish and maybe a few salad items. During the second week, where the theme was “leftovers” I consciously tried to use up leftover foods. We do often save vegetables or food that Matt and I have had for dinner to reheat and give to the children the next day. However this week I decided in addition to this, I’d check out what was lurking in the freezer.
Using up leftovers to make new meals
I had some half opened packets of broad beans and edamame beans in the freezer, so one night I chucked them in the pan with some boiling pasta, added some tuna and sweetcorn and made up a really simple kids pasta tea, in under 15 minutes. Probably not the most creative, and a bit of a lazy option for me as I only used cream cheese to make a sauce, but it served a purpose and meant the kids had a meal and I cleared some freezer space.
Being flexible when plans change
Another big thing I’ve learnt, is that it’s good to have a bit of flexibility to a meal plan. We always do a meal plan so we know what to buy from the shops. However, life happens. Things get in the way and plans change. We’d planned to have dinner at a friends one night and I was due to bake a cheesecake. I had bought soured cream, cream cheese, and eggs especially. When sadly the dinner was cancelled due to sickness, I had to think about what I could do with the dairy produce. Whilst the cream cheese was well dated, I had two packs of the stuff! And the soured cream would have ended up in the bin if I couldn’t find another use for it.
So, that weekend, with another meal to suddenly cook, I looked online. If you go to BBC food website you can search purely by ingredient. We decided to have Beef Stroganoff for dinner. I’d avoided food waste and made a great meal instead. My problem was, I still had a lot of soured cream…
During the following week it was Valentine’s Day, and naturally, I decided I’d make something for Matt like I often do. So once again I searched the internet for what I thought I could use the soured cream for. I knew Red Velvet cupcakes had a cream cheese frosting, so that helped. And I knew that the recipe I use had buttermilk in, so surely I could substitute that for soured cream? Some research advised against it (because apparently it would affect the texture), but I went for it, knowing the cupcakes were only for us, I was making half the quantity, and well, it was an experiment after all. The result is, they were epic! No complaints from the husband, my friend, or my daughter!
For dinner rather than buy a “dine in for two” type fancy meal for Valentine’s Day, because we knew we were going away for the weekend, we used up some leftover veg and half a tin of tinned tomatoes, and popped that in a curry.
Cooking in bulk and freezing portions
During the challenge we have cooked in bulk like we often do, making something for four adults, and saving half the portion in our freezer. Did you know, you could save £250 a year by freezing food properly?! Plus it saves me time for another busy day. I usually make something that’s a bit more time-consuming like lasange, or things which are easy to bulk up. Bolognese sauces or beef or bean chillis work well. If you have the freezer space, it makes sense to freeze a portion for another week, or have a smaller portion for lunch the next day.
What’s next in the #FoodSavvy Challenge?
I’ve been using the products I’ve been gifted for this challenge. This includes extra tupperware and jars from IKEA and a banana bag, and food huggers from Lakeland, which help you keep unused portions of food fresher for longer. For the next few weeks, I’ll see if these, alongside making sure we use up leftovers, help to minimise my food waste.
After our experience of the cancelled dinner date, I’m also going to change how I meal plan. I will allow for at least one meal to be made up of leftovers each week. We usually allow for one meal to be something defrosted from the freezer anyway. This way, if plans change and we have a meal out, we can just have our freezer meal the following week.
That’s the plan anyway! I’ll let you know how we get on in another couple of weeks. We will see if our family’s avoidable food waste is lowered at all.
Read more about the #FoodSavvy Challenge here. If you’ve been doing the challenge I’d love to hear how you’re getting on and what you’ve learned so far.