The Real Reason They Don’t Eat Their Crusts…

The Waste Nothing challenge has had a major setback this week as the Loafer returned to University. What was simply a matter of smothering anything that needed finishing up in Reggae Reggae sauce and leaving it within arms’ reach of the sofa, has now become a full on planning and logistical trial.

Beginning with shopping at Sainsbury’s:

Clearly to give us the longest amount of time to eat everything, I need to get the longest sell-by dates. Although I often glance at these I have been amazed at the variation in dates on the same packages of food now I have started to look more closely. Nearly all the fruit and veg I bought was available in sell by dates which varied by several days within the same display, up to a week on some things like satsumas. The same with milk and bread (actually found out of date bread on the shelves). Yoghurts and cheese had even bigger variations. This may sound pernickety but I also picked up their free magazine on how to save money and make food go further. Which makes me wonder if the money wouldn’t be better spent on training their staff in better stock rotation.

The most bizarre find though was the sticker on their loose red peppers. Those long bendy ones which taste better and last longer, well so I thought. Trying to find a sell by date I noticed the sticker which said. ‘Eat within two to three days of purchase’. It’s a pepper! Why would you need to eat it within three days – and anyway, how do they know when you are going to purchase it? With their stock rotation system it could have been on the shelf for a week or a day.

I did find a most fantastic pear though! A box of them, all very lumpy and ugly, much more interesting than their very sensible neighbours.

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So last night I made Pear Tatin with some left over puff pastry from a turkey pie I made earlier in the week (yes, it was Christmas turkey but panic not, it had been in the freezer!). This necessitated buying more Crème Fraiche though – as basically the pastry and the pear was just an excuse for me to eat spoonfuls of the stuff.

Talking of cream: On Sunday we finally finished off the Christmas double cream in some creamed spinach – a very impressive 20 days past it’s use by date and still perfectly good.

Talking of Christmas leftovers: The Ref and I decided not to buy any wine or beer in January, this was meant to make it a month of abstinence, but I decided in the spirit of the challenge that using up Christmas drinks does not count – and it is quite surprising how good homemade cherry brandy is after a dry week.

The other thing we have leftover from Christmas is a jar of candy canes. Not even the kids like these, don’t really know why I bought them except they look cute. So next year I won’t! For anyone with the same problem I found this.

http://www.mamalovesfood.com/2010/12/peppermint-candy-cane-dust.html

Although I will probably just give them to the Ref to take to work and leave in the staff room – this is a place of last resort, similar to throwing the crusts to the chickens.

Talking of crusts:

At breakfast this morning I discovered why, despite begging, pleading and deep reasoning I still cannot get Little E to eat her crusts.

‘It’s because if you leave them Mum, you can spell LOL on your plate.’

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Some battles are just lost.

Egging On

eggs

Things learnt thus far:

Leftover lamb tagine type thing is very nice especially with lots of mushrooms to make up for lack of lamb. If you make it hot enough everyone eats the leftover plain yoghurt with it. This also used up the half onion and coriander.

Camembert of toast is very good for lunch.

Failures:

Crumpets which have already gone mouldy are no fun to eat (so I didn’t).

Still have cream, crème fraiche and brandy butter which no one wants to eat because everyone is already too fat after Christmas.

Someone has composted the black banana.

 

On the positive side the kids have not totally rejected my challenge and even the Ref, after the initial reaction,

‘Oh God, not another bloody fad!’

has capitulated and resigned himself to the cause. Currently we are having an important philosphical debate over whether or not giving the bread crusts to the chickens counts as wasting food or feeding livestock.

My feelings are that they get enough to eat already and while I’m happy for them to have any scraps that would otherwise go in the bin, I don’t think we should be giving them stuff that we could eat. The Ref’s view is that I should get a life.

On the subject of chickens:

”As part of a drive to cut food waste, the Food Standards Agency has revised its advice on using eggs after their ‘best before’ date. The advice now is that, providing the eggs are cooked thoroughly, they can be eaten a day or two after their ‘best before’ date.”

http://www.food.gov.uk/news-updates/news/2011/dec/eggsegg 3

Err, sorry?

” – because as eggs can sometimes contain salmonella bacteria. If salmonella is present in eggs, it could multiply to high levels and cause food poisoning.’’

Well then, shouldn’t that be a ‘Use by’ date? I mean if we’re at risk of salmonella a few days later, why not change the date to three days hence and save us from impending doom?

No wonder people are confused. Personally I’d rather know when the flipping thing was laid – then I could make my own mind up how fresh it was.

It’s all rubbish of course, you can keep eggs, well…till the hens come home. They are quite happy to hang around for weeks – and they don’t need to go in the fridge either…but I’m starting to rant now.

On the subject of eggs:

Little E wanted scrambled egg on toast for breakfast. The she spent so long faffing about that they went a bit cold and she didn’t want to eat them – but I reminded her of the blog and the challenge and she perked up and ate the lot. Take note -the fear of public failure – a useful new addition to the parenting armoury.

So tonight they had chilli tacos – with rice for the one who doesn’t like tacos and some extra rice for the ones who like tacos but it’s not fair if they can’t have rice too. With cheese and salad and really good homemade salsa and yoghurt. And they ate the lot. And then had ice-cream.

The only thing left is half a bowl of salsa, which I will mix up with a bit more salad and have for my lunch tomorrow. So nothing wasted there.

But there is still the brandy butter to be dealt with – I think I’m going to try it in a cake in place of butter and sugar…

Progress report soon.

What’s Lurking in Your Fridge?

So…New Year…new blog.

Don’t you just love those great anti-consumerist ideas people have for a blog? ‘My Year Living on One Penny a Day’ or ‘My Year of Not Buying Clothes,’  ‘My Year of Living in a Caravan in the Woods and Chewing Bark.’ I love them! Every year I think I wish I’d thought of that– so this year I tried to think of one.

‘My Year without a TV’? Been done, anyway the family said they would rather I went than the telly.

‘My Year of Not Going to the Supermarket’? Very tempting but currently totally impractical.

A week into new year I was still trying to come up with an idea and deciding I had probably missed the boat for this year and that ethical living might need a bit more forward planning.

The problem is that, as much as I hate the consumerist quagmire we are all sucked into, we as a family are a perfect example of the way the system self-perpetuates. My partner and I work too many hours in order to earn the money to live and therefore never seem to have the time to find an alternative solution. In truth we do try, we have for many years grown a lot of our own food, we keep hens and burn scrap wood for extra fuel but we also run two cars, shop at Tesco and close our eyes to the fact that the kids cheap school uniforms have probably been made by another kid missing out on their own education.

So what could we as a family do (alternatively read, ‘I, as a tyrant impose’) that would make a small difference and still be manageable for a whole year?  We have three children aged 8, 12 and 19. The 8 year old is at that lovely age where she still has a smidgeon of enthusiasm for things her parents suggest. So when, last week, I suggested we make New Year’s Resolutions the older two rolled their eyes and slid under the table, but little E said ‘I’m going to make a resolution to finish everything on my plate so it doesn’t get wasted.’ Her Dad and I smiled hopefully at each other, smiles which said ‘Maybe it will be third time lucky’.

Perhaps because I was having an indulgent parenty moment I didn’t listen to what she was saying but this morning those lovely, lovely people at  the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (I love writing things which have never before been written) sent forth a survey which chimed with her 8 year old wisdom.

The survey found that:

    Overall between 30%and 50% of what has been bought in developed countries is thrown away by the purchaser

Institute of Mechanical Engineers Global Food Report

I may no longer be 8, but even I know that this is bonkers and quite possibly, actually evil. Then, finally, I had my lightbulb moment.

‘My Year of Not Throwing Any Food Away.’

I love it!

This year we will endeavour to eat everything we buy. We will not allow crumpets to go mouldy in the breadbin, bananas to go so black that even the smoothie maker refuses to eat them or half eaten tins to lurk around the back of the fridge with their other half eaten tinny friends.

It seems sensible to start with a perishable foods survey: i.e. What’s in the fridge that should have been eaten already? (My fridge has a distinctly post-Christmas feel)

A small amount of leftover cooked lamb which is three days old

Two opened jars of pesto

Half a camembert (out of date four days ago)

A large slice of St Agur with a couple of days left

Three slices of cooked ham

Some crème fraiche, opened

Some leftover Christmas double cream, 10 days out of date but tastes ok

Some plain yoghurt, out of date yesterday

A pot of brandy butter

A jar of pasta sauce opened yesterday

Half a pack of coriander

Half a small onion

Everything else in the fridge is fresh or well in date but we also have lurking in the kitchen:

Four crumpets

Two crust of bread

A black banana

I am enlisting the help of Little E in this as she is tenacious and scary. Tonight we will tell the rest of them – Nearly Teen Queen will no longer be able to eat half a piece of toast before tossing her head and declaring ‘Marmite is so yesterday.’ The Loafer  (who to be fair does eat almost everything that crosses his 19 year old path,  provided it is placed between him and his computer screen) will no longer be able to consign a can containing three baked beans to the fridge to save him having to rinse it out and put it in the recycling bin. As for their Dad, the Ref (because he is, and if he wasn’t everyone would think he was anyway  –  and the other alternative was OCD Man but I thought he might get twitchy about it) well he might like to consider that it is not actually physically harmful to eat the same thing two days in a row…alright, I may have my work cut out there.

And me? I’m just pleased that there are still plenty of chocolates left over from Christmas that need finishing off..

Progress report tomorrow.