It is believed that in the UK alone around 141,525 TONNES of food packaging ends up in landfill each year and the average UK household spends an extra £100 on food, of which at least £16 goes straight to the garbage. Based on this figure, potential Christmas food waste in the UK would amount to £444 million. At a time when people are having to make decisions whether to heat thier home or feed themselves this to me seems borderline criminal.
So this year I decided to embark on a “Waste Not Want Not” mission when it comes to main meals and groceries when we buy them. Using old fashioned methods and skills to make the most of what we use and reduce our waste both in the bin and in our pockets. I began this with our leftovers from Christmas.
Now my partner and I choose to purchase enough meat to do us for several months as it makes life easier for me and ends up cheaper in the long run as we have a meat slicer at home and as I have been heard to say on an almost weekly basis on my YouTube channel “The best investment I ever made for the kitchen”. Obviously it gets used for other food items but around December time it really does get a proper workout. This year I made a concious effort to use up all the extra cooked veg, pastry, dairy, raw meats, leftover fresh veg and anything else I could find in the fridge and about the kitchen.
In the end I ended up making:
2 family sized Shepherd’s Pies
2 Family sized Christmas Dinner Pies
4 Family sized Potato Bakes
6 Litres of Turkey Curry Base
6 Litres of Turkey and Vegetable Soup Base
*Sorry about the pics or lack thereof I was so busy cooking and prepping I just didn’t think. I will see what I have on film though for the recipes.*
For the average 2 adult 2 kid family this lot would do up to 3-6 weeks of main dinner meals, for Tanny and I it means we have main meals for 16 weeks !!! Each one of the family sized pies is enough for us for a week. The liquid meals can be bulked out and expanded as they are bases not fully finished products so 1 litre of each of those will last us a week once finished.
This of course doesn’t include the 3 bags of turkey I put away in the freezer for pasta meals or other things and the 3 bags of Ham I also put away for Tanny’s lunches or whatever we feel like making from them. I also still have 3 lots of sausage meat left and 6 lots of pastry. A few potatoes I found under a pile of shopping bags, half a 10Kg bag of onions and a few more bits of fresh fruit and veg floating around the fridge looking sad and unloved.
We also have some things still available in the freezer to pad out the meals so we don’t get food fatigue. For example a few months back I did my yearly round of lasagne making. I only use the one recipe and it is the one I have adapted and used for the last 20 years after learning it from my boss’s Nona. It makes enough for 8 large ones and 5 veggie ones and still have enough cheese sauce left over for 3 Mac and Cheeses or whatever I want to do with it.
There is also fish fingers and other sausages and meals also frozen veg and other bits and pieces that honestly if we found ourselves unable to spare anything but milk and bread money for the next 5-6 months we’d be actually fine. The point of all this being is that Christmas dinner leftovers had a massive part to play in this. Having a well stocked dry store pantry helps too. At the end of the day though the food that could and probably would’ve ended up in either the compost or the bin has actually ended up in meals for us in the freezer with the minimum amount of waste we could produce. Packets of course but we will work on that over the coming year.
Then of course there is the dry store and pantry cupboards which I slowly have built up over the years, yes I mean YEARS. Tinned foods and packet soups etc. Things I can’t grow in the garden and preserve myself. Flour, Sugar, baking supplies, herbs and spices and any food I have preserved throughout the year when I could.
Right now we are all having to look at how we are spending and what we are doing with that money at the end of the day. Using everything we have as much as possible and not wasting as much as we may normally is going to help us all in the long run and is really important to both our phsyical well being and our mental wellbeing. We need one less thing to stress about and meal planning and making things go as far as possible and putting a little aside each month to stock the pantry is honestly the best way i can show you to do things.
This year we are putting £5 a week aside to stock our pantry with not only food items but first aid, cleaning supplies, bathroom products and personal bits and pieces for the house as a whole. Each week I am going to show what we have gotten for our £5 and how by the end of the year that little bit adds up to a heck of a lot. I am aware there are many out there who do not have £5 a week and that’s ok, even if you use what you have left over from what you have of the housekeeping to pop something away for later use £1 a week or a fiver a month. You will be surprised at what you have to show for it at the end of the year.
Over the next week I will pop up the recipes I used for each of these and a video will appear on YouTube. (I will place the link to it here once I have released it.) To be honest though leftovers cooking isn’t like “normal” cooking it’s more about putting things together to make something else that is recognisable and still tasty and doesn’t feel really like having leftovers. Many tradtional farmhouse and housewife recipes from the turn of last century and beyond were about not wasting anything they were about using what you had at the time without the fancy gadgets and ready made things because in all honesty they didn’t have them and couldn’t afford them.
So please do join me on this adventure this year to eat well but not waste what we have and lets see where it takes us.
information on waste products has come from Business Waste and can be found here –
Christmas waste facts – It’s not very jolly