Happy Easter everyone! I hope you’ve all had a brilliant weekend, whether you’ve been celebrating Easter with loved ones or just enjoying the long weekend away from work. Of course, it’s times like these that food is used as part of the celebrations to really bring people together and tell important stories. As always, readers are welcome to share thoughts or any other contributions in the comments section, and it would be especially nice to have some Easter-themed ones! Let me know whether you’ve made anything Easter-themed, enjoyed a particular Easter food or have an Easter tradition you’d like to share.
This week’s blog post will focus mainly on food waste, as this is a topic that I am very passionate about, and I feel is especially relevant at festive times when food can often be in abundance. I’ll discuss tips for cutting down on food waste and saving yourself a few pennies, whilst helping you make the most of the wonderful food we’re lucky to have available to us in the UK. So read on for plenty of tricks and tips that are perfect for the scrimping student and modern-day family alike.
Waste not, want not!
Food waste is a HUGE global issue right now, and it is a food issue that I really care about. With so many people around the world going hungry everyday, the amount of edible food that is disposed of in developed countries is appalling. It’s true that initiatives such as the Community Fridge schemes and food bank donations in various regions of the UK are working to combat this, but we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface on this issue.
Now as a student I treasure my pennies and can’t afford to let food go to waste, but this doesn’t mean that I pluck patches of mould off blocks of cheese from the back of the fridge, or that I have to compromise on good quality nutrition. I eat well and rarely throw food out, and this is all down to creativity, food preparation, and a few simple kitchen hacks. I know that this isn’t the way that everybody naturally thinks, and it has been a learning process for me too as I have improved my cooking skills over the years. So to help you cut down on how much food you throw away, here are my Top 5 Tips for making food last:
- Shop in the ‘reduced’ section of the supermarket. I know, the student side of me is taking over here! But you will be surprised at the foods you can find for a fraction of the price! You can find fruits, vegetables, meat and fish at a reduced price, and these are all good to freeze for a later date if you won’t consume them on the day. Fruits and vegetables may even last for a few days beyond purchase. Be smart and save yourself the money whilst reducing how much food the supermarkets are throwing away!
- You be the judge of quality – nobody likes labels, and neither does your food! If a food in your cupboard or fridge looks good enough to eat with no obvious tainting (smell, discolouration etc.), then it could be good enough to use, even if the ‘sell-by’ date has been exceeded. It is definitely worth searching this on the internet if you’re unsure though, as fresh produce such as meat and fish should not be eaten after the ‘use-by’ date.
- Ever heard of meal prep? If you have extra fresh veg or meat that needs to be used up before a fast-approaching use-by, there’s no harm in doubling up on portions and chilling/freezing the surplus for future use. This reduces leftovers from the meal and the fresh produce from going to landfill.
- Sharing is caring! This is a great tip for students and those living in a shared house. If you have extras of your meals and snacks that you really don’t want, offer to share with someone else! You can easily swap by having your flatmate share one of their meals or fresh items that they have excess of. Alternatively, if you have similar food tastes, shop together and split the cost! This could save you so much money, fridge space and food waste – winner!
- Freeze! This is my personal favourite, and is one of the main reasons why I always have the means to whip up a hearty nutritious meal, even when I haven’t been able to go shopping. I freeze as much as I can for future use – reduced-priced perishables, extra meals and snacks, multi-buys that I won’t get through quick enough, but especially fruits and yoghurt. Combine these latter two foods together by mixing in a bowl and pouring into moulds, and you’ve made frozen fruity yoghurt or a speedy smoothie base!
These are hacks that I naturally live by everyday, and it means that I’ve always got a fully-stocked freezer, eat well at a low cost, and feel as though I’m doing my part to limit food waste. If each household tried just one of these hacks and committed to it, it’s possible that food waste in the UK could be reduced drastically. So why not give it a go this Easter holiday? Get the kids involved in making fun frozen snacks, make meal prep your fast food alternative, or share your food creations with a loved one.
The following recipes are all based on my need to use up what I have in rather than dispose of it, but there is absolutely no compromise on flavour or nutrition…you may by pleasantly surprised…
Coconut Flapjack Bars (Makes 2)
This all-in-one easy flapjack is a really simple recipe that I came up with to use up some extra coconut milk that I had in, but you can easily use whichever milk you prefer, and any fruits, nuts, trail mixes etc. that you need to use up. Flapjacks are really versatile, so feel free to get creative!
- 70g porridge oats
- 50ml coconut milk (or preferred alternative)
- 15g trail mix/mixed seeds/nuts
- 10g honey
- 5g coconut oil (melted)
- 1/4 teaspoon coconut oil (or preferred alternative)
- Pinch of salt
- Any fruit that you’d like to use up (e.g. overripe bananas and soft chopped apples are perfect for this!)
- Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl
- Spread into a small lined baking dish so that the flapjack is around 2cm thick
- Top with a sprinkle of mixed seeds
- Bake for 20mins at 180°C until golden
A homemade flapjack like this is an excellent source of complex carbohydrate, dietary fibre, polyunsaturated fats, and calcium and iron. The protein content is also relatively high, so this flapjack is ideal to support training and other activity. Unlike shop-bought flapjacks, it is relatively low GI and lower in saturated fats too, meaning that you can enjoy it with all the health benefits too!
Beetroot brownies (Makes 9)
Yes this actually works, believe it or not! As I was preparing to go home from university for Easter break this weekend, I noticed that I had a few odd ingredients around that needed using. The last one? – cooked beetroot. Rather than throw it away, I thought I’d try and make it into a healthy chocolatey treat, and the beetroot brownie was born!
- 200g cooked beetroot, blended down into a smooth paste
- 45g medjool dates (roughly 3, with stones removed)
- 50ml milk (your choice of variety)
- 20g carob powder (my new favourite ingredient – see my last post for another delicious recipe using this)
- 10g chopped almonds
- 1 cup (128g) wholemeal self-raising flour
- 1/2 cup (64g) oats (ground into flour)
- 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 5ml apple cider vinegar
- 1tbsp honey
- 5-10g good quality dark chocolate (at least 70%) – broken into chunks
- 1 medium egg
- Soak the dates in hot water for 20mins until softened, then add to the beetroot and blend
- Add the honey and egg to the beetroot and dates and stir to combine
- Fold in the oat/s-r flour and salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda
- Stir in the carob powder
- Add the milk in, but if the mixture is difficult to stir, add a little more until it becomes easier
- Add in the chopped nuts and chunks of chocolate
- Pour into deep baking tray and spread to an even layer around 2cm thick
- Bake for 20-25mins at 190degC until the top is firm and a knife comes out clean when inserted into the brownie
- Leave to cool slightly on a wire rack, then divide into 9 squares. Best served warm with natural yoghurt/creme fraiche/frozen yoghurt etc.
I am now in love with this recipe! It resulted in a slightly gooey, rich brownie that had so much flavour and all of the goodness of purely natural ingredients. Then add in the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve avoided food waste, and it couldn’t get any better! To increase the sweetness of the brownie, you may want to add just a little more honey or dates, or you could just serve the brownie with some sweet berries. Whatever you decide, I hope you enjoy these as much as I did! They’ll keep for up to four days in an airtight container, or alternatively they’re good to freeze for 6-8 weeks.
That’s all from me for today – I hope this post has been useful and you’ll take some inspiration for getting creative and limiting your food waste. As I mentioned before, please get in touch in the comments section if you’d like to share your thoughts on food waste or your own tips, or if you try making one of the recipes yourself. Enjoy the rest of the bank holiday weekend, whatever your plans are!