Food Glorious Food, Not To Be Wasted

Looking good, but at what cost to the earth?

New findings this week have disclosed that between 30% and 50% of food produced around the world never makes it on to a plate. That’s between 1 and 1.2 billion tonnes.

The UK’s Institution of Mechanical Engineers have supplied these figures in their report this week. They have blamed excessive food waste on consumer fussiness, unnecessary sell-by-dates and special offers that mean customers are buying beyond what they actually need.

If you’re cooking for yourself this year, and haven’t got the luxury or the convenience of college food, this will matter even more to you. But now, it’s not just your budget to be worrying about, but the strain that all of this waste is putting on the world.

Here are some tips to make the most of your leftovers and make sure you don’t gorge yourself silly in Durham Tesco this year:

1. Frozen food

Never underestimate the power of the freezer. When cooking for one, it’s difficult (and expensive!) to keep meals varied and keep. However, why not just buy in bulk (within reason of course) and freeze what is left over? This is not only cheaper, but great when you’ve had a busy day and don’t fancy cooking. It’s like a healthy ready meal right at hand. Freezer items such as frozen vegetables can be really useful as well.

2. Salads

Why not add your cold leftovers to some healthy lettuce leaves to make a salad? It always seems strange to mix your cold leftovers with something hot, so if that’s not your thing then opt for this nutritious option. Be as inventive as you like with dressings and extras.

3. Sandwiches

Same goes as above, but for those who aren’t big fans of the salad version, stack yourself a sandwich.

4. Plan

It may seem obvious, but in order to not be wasteful, it’s great to plan! Even if you don’t want to make a strict Stalinist regime of your culinary exploits for the week, at least cast your mind ahead to what you could eat for the week. As a general rule of thumb, dried foods like pasta and rice are tasty essentials that you can buy in bulk. Plus, if the Durham winter bites back with a vengeance this weekend as predicted, at least you can insulate with a steady supply of these carbs. It also helps if you allocate a day for your food shopping. This helps you avoid the dangerous manoeuvre of shopping on an empty stomach, which can lead to only one thing – excessive scoffing and potential podge.

5. Variety

Variety is the spice of life, and you need it to be creative with some of those leftovers. Give yourself an incentive to eat something you should have eaten the day before. If you can, get cooking with your housemates as well. You can be a little more inventive with your ingredients and it often works out much cheaper. Plus, they’ll generally be one of you that will dive in to take any leftovers.

6. Go veggie

I appreciate that this is easier said than done sometimes. However, carnivorous diets require more water and energy to supply the meat than that needed to supply vegetables. Rather than denounce meat and all its eaters however, why not just have one or two vegetarian nights per week? Meat can be quite expensive, so it gives your spending a break.

On the whole it’s essential to bear in mind that this waste of food, also means a waste of land, time and energy in production terms. By the end of the century it is predicted that there will be a population increase of 3 billion people, so food supplies will really come under strain. The research released this week is pretty shocking and we need to learn to be less wasteful.

However, this article does (and should) come with a subtle warning. The leftover mantra being – don’t martyr yourself. If you think your leftovers have been left just a little too long, don’t risk it.

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