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Food Waste Action Week

Green Inspiration – Food Waste? No thanks!

6 minute read - #GreenerTogether

 

Food Waste Action Week takes place between the 7th and 13th of March and encourages us all to think about ways in which we can reduce the amount of food we throw away every year.

Over the course of this blog, we’ll look at some small steps and top reads that can help us take on the challenge.  So, if you’ve ever wanted to learn how to batch cook, turn some kitchen scraps into houseplants or cook creatively with leftovers, we’ve got you covered!

Read on to discover more.  (Seriously, you can’t have too many houseplants.)

 

So what’s the problem, and how can I make a difference?

Put simply, a large proportion of the food we throw away each year ends up in landfill, where it rots down and releases methane into the atmosphere. As methane is a greenhouse gas, this is having a devastating effect on the environment.   If we want to tackle climate change, reducing the amount of food we waste is vital.

Fortunately, we can all take steps to do this.  And as an added bonus, we can save some money on the weekly shop along the way.

 

Why do we throw food away?

Sometimes things get pushed to the back of the fridge and are forgotten about, only to emerge several days later (or longer!) in a less than fresh state (we’ve all been there).  Sometimes it’s hard to find supermarket products with a decent shelf life in the first place, and your lovely fresh produce starts to look unsavoury within a couple of days of getting it home.  You might have decided to grow your own fruit and veg, and found yourself with a glut of courgettes or tomatoes that are surplus to your requirements.  There are lots of reasons why we might throw food away, but there are also lots of ways in which we can reduce the amount that ends up in the bin.

So where do we start?  Making sure that we store fresh food correctly is a good option, and the Love Food Hate Waste website is packed full of savvy storage tips to help keep food fresher for longer.  Your library can help too.  If you’re looking for ways to use up ingredients and leftovers, why not borrow a cookbook or two (or more!) and get creative in the kitchen? How about ‘regenerating’ some vegetable scraps – yes, that is a thing!

Ready to take action?  Here are some useful books that have plenty of ideas for reducing food waste, all of which you can reserve for free on our library catalogue

 

Don’t throw it!  Regrow it!

 

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Regrown by Paul Anderton

Have you ever thought about ‘Reusing’ food?  How is that even possible?  Through the art of propagation.

Regrown is a great beginner’s guide to the world of repurposing kitchen scraps, with simple step by step instructions and photographs to help you along the way.  Filled with practical examples and handy propagation advice, it outlines which vegetables, fruits and herbs are suitable for regrowing, or ‘regenerating,’ and how long you can expect the process to take.  Most of the regenerations are edible (spring onions, celery and potatoes for example), but the book also covers plants such as ginger and avocado, which can be grown for their ornamental foliage.  You don’t need a garden - a windowsill and a few pots will suffice, and it’s a great way for both adults and children to learn more about plants and propagation in a cost effective, environmentally friendly way.

 

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The Windowsill Gardener by Annie Davidson

Another excellent book to borrow if you’d like to learn more about propagating your own herbs, salads and houseplants from the comfort of your own kitchen windowsill (or another sunny spot in your home).  It is packed full of advice about growing plants and provisions for free (including from kitchen cuttings and scraps!) and tips to help create the optimal indoor environment for them to thrive. 

With delightful illustrations and simple, easy to follow guides, it’s a great book for beginners to get stuck into.  You’ll be growing your own in no time - guaranteed!

 

 

Why not go Batch to basics?  Prepping for the week ahead

Batch cooking isn’t a new concept, but is has grown in popularity over the past couple of years.  So what is it exactly?

Batch cooking is the art of setting some time aside - perhaps a couple of hours a week - to prepare multiple meals and freeze them for use at a later date.  It’s another great way to reduce food waste - especially if you prefer to bulk buy and use a lot of fresh produce.  Freezing your meals in advance gives them a much longer life.  It can also take away the stress of preparing meals from scratch on those days when you don’t have time, or just don’t feel like it. 

If you have a large enough freezer and fancy giving batch cooking a try, check out the following titles:

 

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The Batch Lady by Suzanne Mulholland

So you’re interested in batch cooking but not sure where to start?  Allow us to introduce you to Suzanne Mulholland - AKA the Batch Lady!  Suzanne began batch cooking when she realised just how much time she was spending in the kitchen each week - time she would rather be spending with her family.  She started to try out some batch cooking recipes, and after building up confidence in her batching skills, she welcomed some friends over to show them how to do it too!  Super-impressed, they suggested that she upload a demo to social media.  The rest, as they say, is history – an internet sensation was born!

Suzanne believes that there are many benefits to batching (less lost time, less waste, less stress, less mess…) and it’s far easier than you might imagine to get started.  You just need to take a moment to pre-plan and get organised.  If you’re not the ‘organised type’ when it comes to cooking, don’t worry, Suzanne guides you through what you need to do, with plenty of handy hints and tips.  She also stresses that batching is not about perfection, and the idea is to reduce your stress, not add to it! Therefore, she tries to make everything as uncomplicated as possible, including the planning. 

Suzanne recommends when cooking up a batch, that you focus on making meals that use similar ingredients. Not only does this save on spending, it also helps cut back on waste – especially if you are using up a lot fresh ingredients all in one go.  She also hastens to add that these meals do not have to all taste the same!  In her book, she includes lists of which meals batch cook best together, and there are poultry-based, meat-based, fish-based and veggie-based lists to work from.  She also includes recipes for side dishes, sauces and desserts, all of which can be frozen.  All in all, there are over 80 recipes in this book, all designed to be tasty, nutritious, and family-friendly.

When it comes to freezing and reheating your meals, the instructions for each recipe are nice and clear.  Some meals can be cooked straight from frozen, others need to be defrosted beforehand.  Some meals can even be frozen ‘uncooked,’ i.e. made up from frozen or non-cooked ingredients to begin with, to save yourself even more time when preparing them.

It’s easy to see why more and more people are giving batch cooking a go, and this book has been really popular with library readers.  If you haven’t read it yet, why not order a copy for yourself?

 

Check out these other freezer friendly titles:

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Eat your greens, love your leftovers

Reducing our meat and fish intake, or switching to more locally sourced produce, is often considered a more eco-friendly and sustainable way to eat, and can benefit both us, and the climate.   Whether you’re trying out #meatfreemondays, considering switching over to a fully vegan diet, or something in between, we have a wide range of vegetarian, vegan and flexitarian cook books on our catalogue, packed full of inspiring recipes to put those vibrant veggies and glorious greens firmly centre stage (or centre plate!).  Many of these books cover the issue of food waste, as helping to reduce it fits into the overall ethos of greener and more sustainable cookery.

Fresh fruit and veg can perish quickly, and sometimes we find ourselves short of inspiration when it comes to using them up.  Fortunately, help is at hand!

 

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Eat Green by Melissa Hemsley

Full of ideas for flexitarian feel good meals and tips on cooking more sustainably, this comprehensive book is a great introduction to taking the first steps towards a more eco-friendly diet.  Melissa acknowledges that it’s difficult to be “perfectly sustainable and self-sufficient,” and prefers instead to champion those “small achievable daily changes that lots of us commit to taking on long term,” such as eating more local produce, reducing the amount of meat we consume and of course, reducing food waste. 

In this book, Melissa identifies her top 13 perishable items that we love to buy but often end up throwing away, and centres her recipes around them.  Here’s the rundown!

  1. Carrots and carrot tips
  2. Broccoli and broccoli stalks
  3. Celery and celery leaves
  4. Herbs and their stems
  5. Cucumber, lettuce and salad leaves
  6. Tomatoes and peppers
  7. Cauliflower and cauliflower leaves
  8. Cabbage, kale, leafy greens, sprouts and sprout tops
  9. Courgettes, squashes and pumpkins
  10. Turnips, radishes and parsnips
  11. Swedes, celeriac, potatoes and sweet potatoes
  12. Onions, spring onions and leeks
  13. Bananas and apples

The recipes are easily adaptable to cater for omnivores and vegetarians/vegans alike, and include simple, batch-friendly and ready-in-30-minute meals, as well as some more complex dishes.  There is also a super-handy A-Z index of Odds, Ends and Leftovers at the back of the book, full of ideas on how to use up everything from woody asparagus ends and stale bread through to wilted watercress and beyond.

 

Like the sound of this? Why not also try:

 

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Learn to love your leftovers even more with the following titles:

 

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Going one step further – reducing food and household waste

 

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No More Rubbish Excuses by Martin Dorey

“You got the forever cup.  What now?”

Anti-plastic campaigner, surfer and writer Martin Dorey takes a look at what the average household throws away, and where it all ends up. 

Food. Clothing. Plastics. Packaging. Electricals.  Every year, tonnes of household waste ends up in landfill, and discarded litter is a common sight on our beaches, roadsides and in our waterways.  We don’t often tend to think about what happens to our own rubbish once the wheelie bins are emptied, but with the world facing what Martin describes as a ‘Rubbish Crisis,’ giving more consideration to what, where and how we throw things away is more important than ever.

This is great handbook for readers who are interested in reducing all of their household waste and making some wider planet-friendly lifestyle changes, one small step at a time.  It’s full of practical, easy to implement ideas - or #2minutesolutions – that feel achievable rather than overwhelming.  It also includes product swap recommendations and the latest up to date facts and stats on all things rubbish-related. This little book really does cover a lot of ground!  It’s also pragmatic and recognises that not all of our problems can be solved overnight, or by one person.  It’s important however, not to be disheartened or discouraged by this. As Martin reminds us:

“Each and every action you take to reduce your waste, reduce your impact and rethink the way you live will send out ripples, however seemingly insignificant, that will go out into the world and have a positive effect, even if you never see it.”

Let’s take action today.

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