Saturday, August 30, 2008

Stop Food Waste! Campaign

When I was growing up, Mum would bung a roast in the oven every Sunday and serve it with all the trimmings. Which meant one potato for each person, a small spoonful of tinned peas, about five pieces of carrot and, if we nagged for long enough, a couple of Yorkshire puddings. Nevertheless, being a family of four there was still going to be meat left over. But could we nibble on it over the ensuing day or two? Could we hell. Mum would guard it savagely and turn it into Monday's dinner, which was casserole. She'd use the leftover gravy, too. In our house, the words 'food' and 'waste' didn't appear in the same sentence.

In a survey conducted by Planet Ark last year, homes in the ACT were chucking out 4.2 kilos of food per week. In Victoria and SA, 40% of what people bin is food, and in Sydney, around 50%. Personally, I find it hard to believe, yet the same stats are coming out of most affluent Western countries. In the UK, Brits piff five million spuds, four million apples & seven million slices of bread every day. That's an awful lot of wasted bread & butter pud. In the US, it's estimated 14% of purchased food is thrown out. The stats go on and on. It's depressing.

When I try and think of solutions, my thoughts return to Mum and how she ran her tight ship. Just a few of her food habits included:
  • as mentioned, using left-over roast meat for dinner the following day. Or for sandwiches, if we were lucky.
  • still on roasts, pouring the leftover pan juices into a bowl and putting it in the fridge. It would harden into lard, which you could slather onto crusty bread later on. My Dad was a happy man.
  • writing up a list of all the dinners for the week so she could shop for exactly what would be used.
  • not bothering with use-by dates on eggs. She'd just bung them in a bowl of cold water - if they sank, she knew they were okay.
I love my freezer and don't understand why more people don't use theirs. And in these days of abundance, a small chest freezer in the garage isn't going to break the bank. Freezing ideas include:
  • freeze your bread, muffins, rolls, scrolls, pikelets and crumpets
  • when cream or yoghurt is on the turn, cook up & freeze a batch of muffins, substituting the milk for the cream/yoghurt.
  • go to the market and buy your meat and fish in bulk (see earlier post on markets). Freeze it in serving portions. Some meat lasts for up to 18 months in the freezer. It's a hell of a lot cheaper than the supermarket, too.
  • Freeze your fruit & veg! Berries, stone fruit, blanched asparagus, blanched green beans, corn cobs, herbs..they all freeze really well.
Gosh, I'm feeling all Martha Stewart now. For more information or to share your own ideas (and possibly win some booty), go to . Or you can share your ideas/viewpoints here.


Benn said...

We write up 5 meals a week as a rule of thumb. The reason we don't do 7 is that things come up or we'll be eating out, but those 5 meals could be stretched out over a few extra days easily if need be.

I don't understand how people go shopping for food at the supermarket/markets etc. without an idea of what they are going to make. No wonder so much gets thrown out.

Edward said...


It is a shame that so much is wasted, and I can certainly recall being told daily my parents and grandparents not to waste food and to eat everything on my plate. . .

I guess a lot of waste comes from a fear of missing out and running out. We overbuy as a defense. We cook to much just in case. . .

Cynthia said...

You have such a well-rounded food blog. Thanks for feeding us from differnt perspectives.

ut si said...

What Cynthia said!
Am working my way through all your Perth WA this week so am sooo glad your blog exists!

Jen said...

Benn - yep, we're about the same as we'll either eat out or succumb to takeaway. It's just a matter of being organised. That, and not wanting to throw your money in the bin.

Edward - yes, I guess it is such an acquisitive/throw away society these days that we tend to want everything without really appreciating what we already have. The older generations certainly have a point: we should be more than happy with our lot.

Jen said...

Cynthia - why thank you, my dear! Coming from you, that's high praise indeed.

ut si - and thanks for bringing the sunshine with you! If you want any help navigating your way around Perth, drop me a line. I look forward to hearing what you thought of Perth and, of course, what you ate!

Anthony said...

I got myself one of those Sunbeam vacuum sealing foodsavers a little while ago and it is just the best. Lots of little neat well-sealed packages of food with details written on them in CD marker pen in the freezer. Tops for dividing bulk meat purchases too.

Jen@Palate said...

Anthony - ah, neat little packages appeals to my organisational bent. Thanks for the tip.