Lessons learnt from the 10 day challenge

It's amazing what you can make with a tin of beans and some left over chorizo.
It’s amazing what you can make with a tin of beans and some left over chorizo.

Over the past 10 days I set myself a challenge to eat up some of the food that I have been hoarding over the past few months… well actually its been years.

I can’t throw any food away and often a lot of the left over food that I have gets put into a box or a food bag and then thrown into a draw in my freezer and it’s months later that I discover these food item and then wonder what it is and what to eat it with.

I know the exact reason why I can’t throw food away and that is because I don’t want to throw perfectly good food into the bin. I can’t waste food. In fact I have reaslised that I waste a lot of food because either my cupboards are full of it or my freezer is full and I tell myself I don’t have any food.

Over the course of my challenge I learnt to be more creative with the ingredients that I had and I made some very tasty meals that I would have not thought about otherwise. I opened my eyes and became creative with cooking dinners and making lunches.

When food was rationed in the second World War our ancestors learnt to be creative with the food that they had. Traditional main meals and cakes and other baked good were often made with substituted ingredients rather than all the ingredients that we take for granted today. The results were often quite interesting and not everything worked. But they made food with the ingredients that they had and did not waste anything.

Bean and chorizo stew made with baked beans, onion, courgettes and some herbs.
Bean and chorizo stew made with baked beans, onion, courgettes and some herbs.

One of the most memorable meals that I created was a bean and fish stew with some left over fresh veg, a tin of baked beans and some chorizo that I had in my fridge and freezer. It was inspired by something that I saw earlier in the week on TV.

I am sure that many people in the UK have tins of beans in their cupboard – when I started this challenge I had six tins. I don’t eat beans very often and for some reason I had six tins hiding at the back of my cupboard. I know for a fact that they had been there for almost a year. For me, beans are not the most inspiring of ingredients, but I really enjoyed all the meals that I made from them and I made several meals with them. The bean stew was really tasty and pairing it with chorizo was a great decision. The heat from the paprika mixed with the sweet tomatoe sauce and the end result was something tasty and filling.

In Britain 50 million tons of food each year is wasted. An average one household will throw away almost most half of what they buy each week. We do this because we don’t plan meals and we have busy lives. When at the supermarket  people are often on auto pilot and not much thought is put into what is being placed into a shopping basket. The food is paid for, take home and it is then you might realise that you already have enough of something. Think of all the money you could save if you shopped a little more smartly, or even wrote a shopping list!

By planning meals for the week or the month ahead, writing shopping lists and taking the time to look at what food you have in your home will decrease the amount of food that is thrown away, wasted or forgotten about.

Planning and thinking about the food that we need to cook with will also stop us wasting food. When making your evening meal for yourself or for your family, pause for a moment and consider how much ingredients you actually need. Why not weigh out things like pasta and rice instead of guessing how much you need.

I think there are also some people who are a little snobbish when it comes to having either the left over food for dinner the next night or even perhaps don’t know that you can re-heat some ingredients again and you won’t be ill. As a nation we need to educate ourselves more about the food we have as well as having the courage to try something new. You never know you might create something that is tasty and different.

Try something new this week and don’t go shopping and take a look at what you have in your cupboards and start making meals from what you already have stored. Be creative, and try to waste less.

Some top tips: Use your freezer and take the time to plan ahead a little more. If you would like more information on how to use food a little more wisely check out Love food Hate waste’s website.

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