Make it once, eat it twice!
Hear from our Health and Education Manager, Jen, who gives her insight on how we can eat more sustainably by planning, using our leftovers and reducing food waste.
Now, for anyone who has visited my home, they will know I take great pleasure in showing them some of my upcycled furniture pieces. My Ercol table and revamped chest of drawers being a couple of my favourites. However, apart from being something I enjoy and a good way to save a few pennies, I can’t say I ever think about the environmental impact of my hobby.
When it comes to food however, I am much more keenly aware of the impact food waste has on the environment and climate change. Working in partnership with colleagues over at Zero Waste Scotland over the years has helped open my eyes to the food waste crisis. The FAO (Food and Agricultural Organisation) statement “If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest carbon emitting country in the world” definitely makes you stop and think.
I, for the most part, feel reasonably content with my moaning to the rest of the household to make sure they put rubbish in the correct bin (we have 3). We’ve got our little used battery pot to take for recycling once full, and our lockdown glass bottle collection was certainly worthy of embarrassment (I know I’m not alone there!). We’ve also recently joined the local litter picking group to help keep our area tidy! Nevertheless, I have at times been guilty of the bottom-drawer-of-the-fridge-dump into my “biodegradable, compostable, green” food waste bags! Missing the mark a wee bit there, eh? Purchasing the “wonky” veg in the supermarket is all fair and well too, but letting it go to waste and adding to this growing food waste problem just isn’t good enough.
Planning is key
A key tip I have found useful is the all-too-familiar ‘plan ahead and prepare’. Now, not just planning your meals and what you will then need to buy, but a proper delve into the fridge to find out what you’ve got left before you write that list.
Planning dishes around our favourites makes sense, but what about that odd courgette you’ve got left, could you plan a meal around that? I know it’s so 2017, but I do still love a bit of spiralising, especially for left over veggies like courgette or carrot. I can then add them to any stir fry, or even use them in place of noodles. What about that new recipe you tried out that called for some unusual vegetable that you only used half of, why not give fermenting a try? I remember an education session we did with Zero Waste Scotland – it involved lots of “squelching cabbage”. You can find out more about how to make your own Sauerkraut here.
When it comes to meat, usually the more expensive part of our meal, I’m probably a bit more frugal. With only 3 of us at home, it is often the case that meat is packaged in portions too large for the 3 of us. This can make it hard, especially for those living on their own and our elderly population, but provides good value for money. So again, the preparation starts as soon as we’re home. If it’s pork loin steaks for example, we’ll split the packet up into what we need for the 3 of us and pop them into the freezer. Or a 500g pack of mince is often separated into 2, so we only use what is needed for a specific meal.
Make it go further
The ‘make it once, eat it twice’ mantra is definitely one of my favourites. The classic spag bol sauce a healthy minced beef recipe, one of the first dishes I remember learning to cook, and it is just so versatile! One of the small recipe leaflets I first worked on when I started at QMS was one called Quick and Easy, which used the same Bolognaise style sauce for 4 or so of the different recipes, so ‘batch cooking’ if you like. It’s a great way to avoid wasting food or to use the larger packs of meat. Also, dishes like these are so easy to freeze – which is obviously fine to do after you’ve properly cooled the dish. The freezer is definitely my friend!
But what about those special occasions, how can you make more with your roast? Now, we’re not talking just cold roast beef sandwiches here. I love a Scotch Lamb roast, and to be perfectly honest we also have good appetites, so leftovers can be a rarity. However, one of our Scotch Lamb leftover recipes on Scotch Kitchen that is so tasty is the Lamb Flatbread with Pomegranate and Salsa Verde. It’s so refreshing and a great outdoor meal to enjoy with family. So too was the do-it-yourself lunch in a jar – to use up leftover Scotch Beef steak – the best ‘noodles in a pot‘ you’ll ever have!
The future – optimistic?
The modern throw-away age has certainly impacted into our food habits and there is still much work to do. However, I do feel encouraged when I see how much work our schools are doing encouraging our young people to consider food waste. I remember judging a school award for health innovation and being absolutely amazed at the Head Teacher of a Primary School who was aiming to improve the eating habits of her pupils, whilst simultaneously reducing food waste. The thing that so many parents try – ‘just eat a little bit more of your peas or broccoli’ – seemed to work for her. Kids were actually finishing their ‘I don’t like them’ vegetables and the school food waste bins were hardly used.
There was also a Secondary School who are using the left behind Home Economic creations (you know who you are if you ever left them in the school fridge!) to share with staff and the wider school community to avoid food being wasted. What great examples of simple innovation and small steps that can contribute to a bigger impact!
I do believe we all have a part to play, and we can make a big difference if we plan, prepare and make it once, eat it twice!