I was invited to share some ideas with you. What was the incentive? I believe in being open with you – I might win a new fridge! Here’s hoping as my current one was second hand to me (from my ex in laws nonetheless when I was still married and isn’t doing so well- the freezer always needs defrosting which is a big job!)
The theme is Wasteless journey. AO.COM have developed an interactive part of their website to help us save money on our shopping and waste less. It has a downloadable Meal Planner, tips on food labels, lots of recipes and a guide on what you can freeze. That will be really useful. I know lots of friends who aren’t sure what you can and can’t freeze, Me? I’m a bit blase and tend to chuck everything in!
The Waste-less Journey has been created by AO.com. If you’re not sure who they are, AO.com are an online specialist retailer of electrical goods. They offer to price match, free delivery, to take your old appliance away and recycle it. They were voted the UK’s best retailer 2015 beating John Lewis and Apple.
Back to food. My stomach is rumbling. Apparently ‘More than 15 million tonnes of food is wasted in UK homes every year, most of which is still perfectly edible’. This is a huge amount. It’s quite shocking and sad when you think of the hard work that was used to grow the produce, the animal that lost it’s life to feed us, the families relying on foodbanks or the homeless and hungry. I’m far from perfect but I try really hard not to waste anything – I am a Yorkshire woman after all, raised by the tightest, non wasting Yorkshire man going. Seriously, I’m not exaggerating! My Dad doesn’t like to waste anything, let alone a precious commodity such as food.
He re-uses everything. You’ve cooked with tin foil? He WASHES it and FLATTENS it out! He will even take it from my sisters house to reuse at home as she uses a much more expensive, quality brand than he will let poor Mum buy!
Food bags as well. Sandwich bags. He washes them out and reuses them. At my son’s recent sports day, lunch was provided and he was astounded that each sandwich was in an individual bag (He uses clingfilm) and announced that he was taking them all home to washout……if I was a teenager, I’d have been mortified but it’s a good lesson in saving money.
With food, nothing is wasted. It’s how I was brought up and I hate wasting anything, often to the detriment of my waistline. My ex husband’s family do not save anything. A meal at their house used to give me palpitations. I often took a goody bag of cooked veg home with us and once, I had to eat a mountain of Vienetta. My ex Mother in law had bought it just for my ex as he didn’t like the dessert that she had made. I had eaten the main dessert but she brought the entire Vienetta out of the freezer and put it on the table. After 10 mins or so, I noticed it was melting and got up to put it back in the freezer when she said ‘What are you doing?’ ‘Putting this back in the freezer before it melts’ ‘Oh don’t bother’ she said, ‘just wash it down the sink’. OMG. I literally could not cope with the thought of that. My ex had had one slice. That was it. I made him eat more and I ate the rest. Anything rather than waste! If it’s not eaten at the intended meal time, it’s thrown away. I hated it.
At home, it’s just my little man and I. What I do to save waste is plan our meals. I decide what we are going to eat and write my list around the meals. I also batch cook to save time, energy and waste. It means that we can have a healthy home cooked meal at a moments notice.
To diversify, when I make a spaghetti bolognaise, I make it as usual. I then take half of the finished ragu and add a tin of kidney beans, some cumin, chilli powder and fresh coriander and tadaah- chill con carne! It means that we’re not eating the same thing over and over again.
Another thing that I do is freeze banana’s. I am really fussy with them. I like them as they are just turning yellow, before any brown, let alone brown spots. They are evil though. One minute they are perfect and the next time I look, they have turned!
So, I chop them and freeze them in plastic bags. What do I do with them? I make ‘nice’ cream.
If you’ve not heard of it, Nice cream is NannaIceCream. Basically, you blend frozen banana’s with some berries or chocolate or pretty much anything you like for a low fat and dairy free if you need it, ice cream. I also use them when I make a banana cake. The riper the better. I just defrost them and mash them. The cakes are super yummy.
Today I made a super Easy Peasy Lazy Beef Casserole (yes, in July as it feels like winter and we needed something warm and comforting!) which is family friendly and really tasty. My 3yr old, his friend and 10 month old brother wolfed it down! Its a perfect no waste recipe as whatever isn’t eaten can be frozen. If you put a portion in a plastic bag, lay it flat on the kitchen top and gently flatten it and push all the air out, you will have a nice, flat, space saving meal for your freezer.
For this Easy Peasy Lazy Beef Casserole, you will need:
- 400g Stewing Steak
- A mix of vegetables / potato
- Beef Oxo Cube (low salt)
- Oxo Red Wine and Rosemary Herbs and More pot
- Sweet potato to roast separately
- Broccoli to serve on the side if you like
- a table spoon of plain flour
- 2 table spoons of vegetable or olive oil
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
I used Tesco for the cheap and easy bit but other supermarket run similar deals. I got a 720g bag of Vegetable Soup Mix which contained Onion, Carrot, Swede, Potato and Parsley, a bag of fresh peas and a bag of broccoli florets on a 3 for 2 deal which cost me £2.40.
It’s such an easy recipe. To start, you need a casserole dish that is both safe for the hob and the oven. If you don’t have one of these, you can fry the meat in a frying pan separately and the transfer it to a casserole dish or slow cooker.
- Sprinkle the meat with the flour and stir to cover. Add seasoning if you like but as I have a little one, I choose not to.
- Heat the oil and fry the meat to colour and seal. Some recipes will tell you to do it in small batches but I don’t find that necessary or that it makes a difference unless you have a small pan and a lot of meat.
Don’t worry about the bits that will stick and go golden, they add yummy flavour and help thicken the recipe. Just don’t have the heat too high that it burns!
If you are using a frying pan, transfer the meat to your casserole dish and then add a little bit of water to the pan, stir to unstick the golden bits and then pour it on top of your meat.
If you are using a hob and oven casserole dish, move on to the next step.
- Add your veg. If you are using a mix of root veg that will take longer to cook and something like peas that won’t take so long, save the peas for later.
- Add the tin of tomatoes and enough water to cover.
- Add the oxo cube and Herbs and More jelly stock pot.
- Put it in the oven for 2hrs 3o mins at 180 degrees C, 160 in a fan oven or gas mark 4
After about 2 hrs, peel and chop the sweet potato and put on a baking tray with a little oil. Put it in the oven alongside the casserole. Add the peas to the casserole, give it a stir and add more water if you’d like more sauce – just a little though.
If you have made it in the slow cooker, I would leave it to cook for 5 hrs on high but you will need to thicken the gravy at the end with a little cornflour or thickening granules.
That’s it. It took me 10 minutes to get it in the oven from unpacking the shopping and then I forgot about it until teatime.
Oh. Another tip. Do yo occasionally order a take away or buy a good quality ready meal? If so, they may come in plastic boxes. Top tip- wash them and reuse them for free tupperware! Brilliant portion sized, stackable and freezable boxes. We also use them for things like playmobile teeny pieces or colouring pencils etc.
While I’m at at, look in your supermarket on the cling film / tin foil isle. You should be able to buy the metal take away trays with the cardboard lid. These are perfect for freezing lasagne or shepherds Pie / Fish Pie etc – and then you simply take out of the freezer, defrost and put in the oven. Simple, no mess, no washing up, from freezer to plate.
I hope you like my recipe and waste less tips I’d would love to hear what you do to waste less.