Did you know the average household in the UK wastes about £700 worth of food every year? Just think about that figure – yikes! I must (very shamefully) admit to being part of that statistic, but I am determined to make a change. You (and I!) can reduce food waste simply by implementing a few easy steps.
Start with a clean slate
Do you have a large fridge that hides in its depths five different bottles of mustard at various stages of fullness? I know I do. Starting with a clean slate is the best way to reduce waste. Do a big clear out of your fridge once a week or fortnight and make a point of using odds and ends in sauces or soups rather than throwing away.
Less is more!
Just because you have a big fridge, it doesn’t mean you should fill it till it bursts. Buying less food more often so that you only buy what you need is a great way to reduce waste. This is especially true of items that go bad quickly, such as salad leaves and some vegetables (hello aubergines, I have wronged you again!).
Store your shopping in the order that it needs to be used and make a note of the big ticket items that need to be used by a certain date. Store any leftovers, clearly labelled, on a separate shelf if possible. Freeze any leftovers that can be heated straight from frozen. For example soup can be poured into silicone muffin tins, frozen, and the frozen cubes stored in bags by portion size.
Plan your meals
Meal planning is a fantastic way to not only reduce rate but to take control of your diet as well. I must admit that meticulous planning is not my strong suit. But making even a bare-bones plan can work wonders – you don’t have to jot down every ingredient. Perhaps you already follow a certain pattern (like meatless Mondays or Sunday roasts) so you can work your planning around that.
Batch cook your family favourites
Are there certain recipes that are always guaranteed to be met with requests for seconds? Make a big batch on Sunday and serve throughout the week – maybe with a few variations. Bolognese sauce can be served over spaghetti, turned into cottage pie, sloppy joes, jacket potato filling and even used to liven your breakfast.
Pulled pork is another versatile recipe – serve it on tacos, in buns, in wraps or even grilled cheese sandwiches. A big roast can also last a few days if you use the leftovers in sandwiches, soups and salads.
Your freezer is your best friend
Frozen food is not only significantly cheaper for the most part, and frequently healthier, it also a great ally in reducing food waste. I always have a few staples in my freezer such as prawns, fish, frozen berries and mince. I have a few favourite items on ‘repeat order’ at Iceland – they have a great selection of products that are consistently high quality and great value and their minimum online order is only £40 with free delivery. Win – win -win!
I made a big batch of my famous (well ‘famous’ within my family at least) best-ever big batch Bolognese sauce using Iceland’s frozen mince and it turned out so great that I am really excited to share this recipe with you. It does take a little time to cook but putting in the extra effort is so worth it!
Using frozen mince (and onions too if you are pressed for time) is a great way to cut down the cost of this family-sized recipe. The quality was far superior to many a fresh mince I have used and there was really no fat to speak of. My kids rated this 12 out of 10 and promptly asked for seconds 🙂
- olive oil to fry
- 900g | 2 pounds frozen lean mince (about 5% fat)
- 250ml | 1 cup milk
- 250ml | 1 cup white wine
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 2 celery sticks, very finely chopped
- 2 small carrots, peeled and finely chopped
- 5 slices pancetta, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 2x400g (14oz) tins of chopped tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- small piece of cheese rind (Parmesan or Grana Padano)
- salt and pepper to season
- chopped parsley, to serve
- grated cheese, to serve
- Preheat the oven to 150C (300F).
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large casserole dish (dutch oven). Add half the frozen mince and stir to break up.
- Once it starts cooking you can add the remaining mince and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until it starts to brown. Stir in the salt.
- Add the milk and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes or until most of the milk is gone.
- Add the wine and again simmer for 10 minutes until most of the liquid has been cooked off.
- Transfer the meat into a bowl and wipe the pan clean.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the clean pan and fry the onion for 7 minutes.
- Add the celery, carrot, pancetta and garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Add the bay leaves and herbs and stir in the chopped tomatoes and paste.
- Add the sugar, cinnamon and Worcestershire sauce.
- Return the mince to the pan and stir everything to combine. Add the cheese rind.
- Cover the pot and transfer to the oven to cook for 2 hours. Alternatively transfer to your slow cooker and cook for 5 hours on low.
- Check the seasoning and adjust if needed. Remove the bay leaves and cheese rind.
- Serve over spaghetti sprinkled with grated cheese and chopped parsley.