Monday, 23 August 2010

Cooking for Victory

'Cooking for Victory' is the theme for this year's National Zero Waste Week. Mrs Green who runs the My Zero Waste site, providing all sorts of great inspiration to help people minimise their landfill waste,  invited me to participate. The week runs from 6 to 12 September and the aim during that week is to tackle food waste at home. According to a report by WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme), households in the UK waste 8.3 million tonnes of food and drink each year, costing the average family £50 per month.

I had to think of a pledge to reduce my own food waste for National Zero Waste Week. When I mentioned it to my husband, we both struggled to think of how we wasted food in the first place and to think of an area to work on to reduce it. We don't consistently throw away a particular food each week, nor we do we struggle with leftovers (it either all gets eaten, made into another recipe or frozen) and we eat a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables that we buy on a weekly basis so it doesn't go off.

After a bit of thought, I realised there were times when I wasted food. It would be when I'd accidentally hidden some lettuce or something at the back of the fridge, forgotten it was there and when I found it a week or so later, it was inedible. Or, I'd have yoghurt sitting in the fridge that we were in no rush to eat and then at some point I'd realise it had gone well past it's use-by date and I would throw it away. There, I've said it - my food waste sins are out!

The way I plan to avoid this kind of food waste, specifically during National Zero Waste Week, is to plan our meals for the week ahead, based on the fresh ingredients we have in our fridge. That way, I will ensure everything gets incorporated into a meal and not left to wilt away. My pledge is to meal plan.

There are lots of benefits to meal planning, but it's something I've never done. My mother used to meal plan when I was very young and I think that was mostly as a cost-saving measure. In recent years however, she has never been a meal planner. I've admired her ability to go from having no idea what she's going to cook that evening to creating something amazing just by looking at what ingredients she has and putting them together in an effective and delicious way. I've always tried to follow that way of doing things when it comes to cooking  :-)

Like all these little challenges, I think you learn something about your own habits and you're made to think about doing things differently. Sometimes the changes you are forced to make turn into changes you decide you want to continue. I see National Zero Waste Week as a small step to helping decrease our household waste and a learning experience along the way.

I hear lots of mums tell me they deplore the food that gets wasted when they cook something in particular for their baby or toddler and then they don't eat it. Others lament the poor quality of some fresh foods from the supermarket, like summer berries that are soft and mushy as soon as they get them home and end up getting thrown away. Whilst most of us would not dream of wasting food, it happens more easily than we might think. What kinds of ways do you and your household waste food? Do you plan meals for the week ahead?

You can read more about National Zero Waste Week here. There are a few suggestions of pledges you could make, if you'd like to participate yourself. I'll report back on my meal planning technique to tackle food waste, after National Zero Waste Week has passed.


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