Ways to be resourceful with the groceries you’ve got – reducing food waste
It’s not all about pasta and rice
With the absence of pasta and rice on the shelves, it would seem a great time to become more familiar with some other store cupboard essentials including pulses that you may not have cooked with before.
Lentils are a great alternative as a carbohydrate, but they’re also high in fibre and protein. They’re fantastically versatile and can be used in place of mince in many different dishes like cottage pie, chilli and hot pots. They’re a cheaper option too, so if pennies are pinched but you are a keen meat-eater, you can bulk out the above dishes with a mixture of mince and lentils. In my house, we like to eat a bit of a flexitarian diet. Iron is an important nutrient for me, but happily lentils contain plenty of iron as well as red meat. We love this recipe from BBC Good Food for a Beef and Lentil Cottage Pie.
Another store cupboard ingredient to experiment with is quinoa, which is extremely versatile and a real superfood. It is a complete protein (containing all of the 8 essential amino acids) and is packed with fibre, phosphorus, magnesium and iron. It’s also gluten free. Use it to make stuffed peppers, marrows or squash, serve it alongside a hearty tagine, or serve it in this scrummy one-pot curry – no need for rice! I personally tried and tested this one as my very first experiments using quinoa and it couldn’t have been simpler to make, tastes delicious and freezes well!
Give ‘Pearl Barley Risotto’ a google search for some amazing risotto recipes using pearl barley rather than Arborio rice. Nutty pearl barley has plenty of ‘bite’ just like risotto rice, and it has a creaminess once cooked just like risotto.
“I didn’t know you could freeze that!”
Head to the Love Food Hate Waste website for their A-Z of storage. It lists ingredients and how they can be stored to make the most of them. In times like this when we’ve all been advised to shop less frequently, or perhaps cannot get out at all, the freezer is your friend.
Here are just a few ingredients that can be frozen and how you can use them up.
Hard Cheese – grate cheese before portioning and freezing. It can be used in cheese sauces, omelettes, cheese on toast or top pasta bakes or lasagne!
Bananas – don’t let over-ripe bananas see the bin! Freeze bananas in their skins, and defrost to use in baking or smoothies.
Bread – bread can be frozen and defrosted to be used for sarnies and toast. You could also use the ends, or staler bread to make homemade breadcrumbs, by blitzing in a food blender.
Milk – a handy tip for elderly relatives. An ice cube tray helps to portion our milk. One cube is great defrosted for a brew, or defrost a few for use on cereal.
Yoghurt – freezes well. Plain yoghurt can be defrosted and used to make super-speedy flatbreads. Check out this recipe from The Orange Kitchen for 3-ingredient flatbread. Alternatively frozen flavoured yoghurt can be used in cakes, smoothies or made into ice-lollies.
Waste not want not
How can we use up every last bit of our ingredients? Here’s a list of ideas to help.
Broccoli – use the florets for with roast dinner or in a curry, but don’t bin the stalk. This can be chopped and used in stir fries, it’s full of nutrients and tasty too.
Cauliflower – make the most of the whole head of cauli by washing the leaves well and using them with the florets in creamy cauliflower cheese.
Ends of a loaf – The ends of a loaf make great pizza bases. If you’re off with the little ones, get them involved too. A simple way to make a tomato base is to mix equal measures of tomato sauce and tomato puree and a sprinkle of dried mixed herbs if you have them. Then let little ones top with grated cheese and their favourite toppings.
Cheese rind – the end of a block of parmesan has a lovely, rich flavour. Add it to homemade stock, or drop it into simmering stews or tomato sauce. You’ll just need to remove it before eating as it won’t melt away completely.