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 www.notebookmagazine.com . Or you can share your ideas/viewpoints here.