TV chefs show how to turn those cheaply bought leftovers into tasty meals – and save the planet, writes Emily Beament
The era of the buy one get one free offers could soon be over. The Government is getting tough on food waste, according to a report out yesterday.
And now celebrity chefs have joined the campaign with a series of recipes designed to help people create new dishes which use up leftovers.
Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and Gary Rhodes are among the top chefs who have come up with recipe ideas as part of efforts to cut the amount of food households throw away.
Currently 6.7 million tonnes or a third of all the food bought in the UK ends up in the bin.
The initiative by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, aims to reduce the amount of food wasted in the capital – which includes an estimated 400,000 untouched apples and 750,000 slices of bread thrown out each day.
The drive comes in the same week the Government unveiled plans for reducing food waste, which costs the average household around £420 a year.
And with food production a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, eliminating waste would cut the same emissions as taking a fifth of the cars off the UK’s roads.
Ways to cut the amount of food thrown away could include replacing “bogof” – buy one get one free – offers with half price offers, along with hints, tips and recipes to help consumers make the most of the cheap food, and clear advice on best before dates.
The chefs have drawn up recipes for leftover ingredients consumers are most likely to throw in the bin, including meat, potatoes, rice and fish.
Mr Johnson said: “It is high time we treated that lonely dish of marooned mashed potato or plate of rice relegated to the back of the fridge with the respect it deserves. It makes sense for your wallet, as well as for the good of the planet, to make your food go further.”
Rosie Boycott, chairwoman of London Food, said the “gob-smacking” amount of food people threw away had an impact on the climate, waste disposal and the food production system.
“What we’re trying to say today is look at what you’ve got in your fridge, save yourself money, a trip to the shop and help start to save the planet,” she said.
She backed plans to stop two-for-one offers, because she said food that was cheap was viewed as worthless and people threw it away without thinking – a cultural attitude which needed to change.
“It’s valuable, it’s the one thing we all need every day. We could manage without almost everything else, but we can’t manage without this stuff,” she said.
She said that instead of throwing away apples which had begun to go brown or potatoes which were beginning to grow, consumers should cut off the inedible bits and use the rest to make puree or mash.
Stock from leftover chicken can be frozen and used as a base for soup, she suggested.
Top London chef Oliver Rowe, who was demonstrating one of his leftover recipes at his restaurant at the Prince Albert, King’s Cross, said waste could be avoided if people did not always “succumb” to ready meals, but took time to learn some basic cooking techniques.
“It’s hard for people in places like London where we are all so busy trying to make a living and the pressure is on, there’s not always a lot of time,” he acknowledged.
But people could avoid waste by looking in their fridge to see what they had before going to the shops, and thinking about the meals they had to cook in the week ahead.
“People can shop carefully, think about the waste and not buy more stuff than they need,” he recommended.
And it was worth keeping a few useful basic ingredients such as butter, cheese or yoghurt in the fridge, along with flour, rice and spices which could be used to help create meals, he said.
Leftover food from bread to beef can be used to create meals which cut down on food waste.
Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall said: “There’s enormous satisfaction to be had from getting the most out of every ingredient, coming up with ingenious ways to serve leftovers and finding new recipes to use up a glut of fruit or veg.
“Approach your store cupboard and fridge with an open mind: could that chunk of stale loaf become a bread and butter pudding? Might those softening apples be pureed for a sauce?
“Waste not, want not isn’t some dreary, outdated mantra, it’s a principle that can help all of us eat wisely and well.”