It’s not just the poor who should eat stale bread…we all should – ways to use leftovers…

Jamie Oliver has caused a bit of a kerfuffle over comments made in an interview with the Radio Times. Whilst trying to promote his new show he implied that the poor should think about eating stale bread.

Well, it’s not just the poor who should eat stale bread but all of us. We live in a country with an abundance of food and supermarket BOGOF’s and supersized packets mean that the majority of this food ends up in the bin.

According to Food Aware, every year in the UK, almost 18 million tonnes of food end up in landfill.

That’s just not cool.

Your mother probably said to you growing up that you had to finish your plate because there were kids in Africa who are starving and whilst she’s right, the issue is more basic than that.  We’re living in an age where people are shunning essential kitchen skills, which would eliminate waste and see people eat a healthier diet.

Jamie Oliver also said in that interview that we should buy as we cook and whilst I agree, there are times when it’s wholly impractical. We need to start planning so that we buy just what we need – good for the environment – good for the purse.

Let’s look back to how our grandparents ate. I was lucky enough to grow up having my great grandparents around, they ate simple, basic, wholesome foods. They grew as much as they could in their garden and they used the local market for meat, fish and vegetables. The only waste that came out of that house was potato peelings.

But it WAS different back then, popping to the supermarket wasn’t so easy and not everything was shrink wrapped and kept in a semi frozen state or sold in massive packets.

So what if we started getting creative in the kitchen?

This is a topic that I want to cover in more depth over the next few weeks, those who know me, know that I’m passionate about living well for less. So just for now here are a few ways in which we can use our leftovers to eliminate waste and to save time (and money)…

• Don’t rely just on use by/sell by dates. You have eyes and a nose for a reason.Your food doesn’t just wake upon the day it’s supposed to expire and go bad. Sniff and look before ditching!

• Cook every part of the vegetable; for example the leaves on celery are great in soup and salads.

• If you buy things in bulk…cook in bulk. Best ready meals are the ones that you make and freeze yourself. YES it’s time consuming at the time but it’s worth it when you’re in front work late and want something quick to eat.

• If you’ve cooked too much pasta then just add a smidge of olive oil to stop it turning in to a inedible clump you can then the next day just reheat it in simmering water.

• Wrap herbs in damp absorbent kitchen paper, and then cling film – it keeps herbs fresh for weeks!

• Left over wine (I know, joke!) pour in to ice-cube tray and use for cooking.

• Stale bread? So long as it’s not mouldy you can whizz it up and use it for breadcrumbs or make something like a bread and butter pudding.

Bubble and squeak

• Make random meals. Throw things together. Get creative.

• Make your own butters.

• Make soups. The best thing about soup is you can chuck anything in and then you can freeze it! Perfect for the winter months.  Same with juices and smoothies.

The Kitchn has 75 tips for leftovers and ingredients you should check out.

I’ll stop there as like I say, I want to cover this in more detail but tell me, how do you feel about food waste? What tips do you have for not wasting food?

image via justine pocock 

Author: Rachael

I'm a journalist and creative consultant. I write about how busy women (just like you) can live, work and eat - better.

9 thoughts on “It’s not just the poor who should eat stale bread…we all should – ways to use leftovers…”

  1. Seriously. YES. I used to have this flatmate she would buy a fridge full of food, let it all rot, and then throw it out. She preferred that to offering it to anyone else to eat, too. It made me almost cry. Our planet is an increasingly delicate system. It’s sick the way we take it for granted, that we have lost all connection and consciousness. I was very glad to see TV series documenting how food is made- we need to see the facts and start to think twice, or think at all in a lot of cases. My hot tips are 1) a juicer- you can throw any wilting veg and herbs in and make a great juice. 2) broccoli stems- not only delicious, more nutritious then the tops! Just cut off the thick exterior to get to the yummy interior.

  2. Being creative with leftovers has seen the production of several of my family’s now-favourites! You did remind me of my mother, though, who would take stale bread, put it under a stew and call it a “king’s supper”. The bread was way better than her dumplings!!

  3. You had me until the leftover wine comment!!!

    Seriously though I once got my mouth washed out with soap by my parents for answering them back on the line about starving kids in Africa. I thoughtfully said maybe we could box it up and send it to them – it didn’t go down very well!!!

    I always cook extra and make up some one person dinners for all those times when you want something quick. I cook a lot of Chinese and Indian food so the rice and curry freezes really well.

    I hate wasting food!

    Great post – thanks for sharing!

  4. I’ve been trying to make more effort recently, using a combo of freezing things (particularly fruit, which I can then use as a base for a smoothie), batch cooking and using an app called ExpiryDate which warns me when a food is going to go out of date. Meal planning really helps too, otherwise I just panic buy without thinking when I’ll use it.

  5. I absolutely agree. Wasting food is something I try my best not to do. I’m always packaging leftovers. Growing up, my mother never believed in wastefulness, so we would have a “clean out the fridge” night where we weren’t allowed to cook anything new. It had to be leftovers from the fridge. That’s when we got creative. 🙂

  6. Paudie,
    How delightful of you. This has long been something that bothers me. How much food is wasted. Seems no one thing about all the cooperatives efforts that goes into having it available to you. I grew up where we could not afford to waste food. What little we did not eat, went to the animals. Last night dinner left overs were transformed to today’s breakfast. I would love for more people to read this. Sharing. Thanks.

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