Waste watchers

  • Week 5: Spring clean week Give the contents of your kitchen cupboards and fridge a real spring clean - at Four and a half bellies we are going to try our best to save some tins ...
    Posted Feb 19, 2013, 11:49 AM by Dinner Lady
  • Week 4: Clean plates week This week Four and a half bellies will be eating everything off our plates...yes, every last scrap!  When there is no food scraped from plate to bin at the ...
    Posted Feb 8, 2013, 6:23 AM by Dinner Lady
  • Week 3: Left overs week Ok, so last week showed us that however well intentioned we are, we seem to cook far too much each meal in a bid to ensure that all bellies are ...
    Posted Feb 8, 2013, 6:24 AM by Dinner Lady
  • Week 2: I cooked just enough week This week we Four and a half bellies are trying to cook just enough pasta, rice or potatoes for each meal, so that we are not left with loads of ...
    Posted Jan 21, 2013, 11:32 AM by Dinner Lady
  • Week 1: Feeling fresh week For our first week of Waste Watchers, the Four and a half bellies will be feeling fresh. We will try our best not to throw out any fruit or vegetables ...
    Posted Jan 15, 2013, 12:09 PM by Dinner Lady
Showing posts 1 - 5 of 5. View more »

Waste watchers: the more you save, the more you save




Waste watchers is about gradually reducing the amount of food waste we put in our bins. By slowly developing better habits, we are more likely to sustain them in the long term. And if we work together with others we are more likely to succeed. This is what we Four and a half bellies are going to do - join us if you dare! 





1.  Sign up a member of the family to be the person to nag, monitor and reward. In our case it will be Maths Geek and The Noble Knight as they are pedantic beyond belief and crusade for saving our planet (and saving a few pennies for a few extra treats for them!). Just like most children.


2.  Each week focus on one way of reducing food waste from the list below. I'll be posting weekly to tell you what we are going to concentrate on and how much food and money we are saving. Share our focus or chose your own but email us to let us know how you're doing! 


3.  Every time a food item is saved from being consigned to the bin (e.g. I trawled to the back of the fridge, found half a carton of cream which was about to go off but put it in a pasta sauce instead of the bin) we will save some money in a pot.  If you're doing this too, save what you think you can afford, it might be as little as 10p or a whopping £5. We're putting in10p per food save if the boys save some food; 50p per adult food save.  As a family decide what you will spend your food savings on (e.g. charity, a yummy meal out, a family outing, a luxury food item). The boys chose to go to a fairground and spend the savings on rides. 


4.  Every time a food item is thrown away remove money from the pot (maybe the amount you put in for a food save). This will make the person who threw the food away so unpopular they will not do it again. 


4.  Celebrate each week by "liking" us, tweeting your best food saves and emailing in to tell us how much you have been saving. Don't forget to share any good tips. 


dinnerlady@fourandahalfbellies.co.uk

Weekly focus

Week 1 Feeling Fresh Week - don’t throw any fresh fruit or vegetables away


Week 2 I Cooked Just Enough Week - cook smaller quantities of pasta, rice and potatoes so there aren't so many pots of left overs lying around


Week 3 Left Overs Week - if you do cook too much reuse your left overs in imaginative (or otherwise) ways so none get thrown in the bin

 

Week 4 Clean Plates Week  - don't throw any food from the plate to the bin .  This is probably best done by serving smaller portions in the first place (with plenty more in the pot should people want more, of course!)


Week 5 Spring Clean Week - Do a freezer/ fridge or store cupboard spring clean and make meals out of what’s there rather than buy lots of new food 


Week 6 Good Storage Week - don't throw anything away just because it's gone off because of poor storage


Week 7 Little and often week - buy just what you need to eat over the next few days/ weeks


Week 8 Peel and core week - what can you do with your apple, carrot and potato peelings instead of throwing them in the bin?

Copyright: Dinner Lady 2013

Week 5: Spring clean week

posted Feb 4, 2013, 6:31 AM by Dinner Lady   [ updated Feb 19, 2013, 11:49 AM ]

Give the contents of your kitchen cupboards and fridge a real spring clean - at Four and a half bellies we are going to try our best to save some tins, jars and packets from the bin by rolling up our sleeves, reaching behind all the newly bought produce and exploring what's lurking at the back.  To do this we will:

  • ditch the recipe books and grab the "how to cook" books - remembering basic cooking principles so that we can be imaginative and create meals out of what we've already got
  • take 'best before' dates with a large pinch of salt - I will revert to my more primeval skills of sniffing, looking and tasting to check that produce is ok to eat.  If it's not green, not fizzing and not moving I'm eating it.  
  • using the internet to find recipes that I can cook using the produce I already have rather than using recipe books to write shopping lists for extra food we don't need
How we're doing:
  • Terribly! I don't think we've saved any money this week (4th-11th Feb) from larder spring cleaning, but we have saved some money and food from the bin through using up left overs and bits and bobs about to go off.
  • This week I have worked almost every day. The kitchen has been out of use because the work tops have been sanded and oiled. And with sore throats all round, shining a torch to the back of the larder to see what tins might need using up has not been high priority.  We've just been using fresh fruit and veg, stuff from the freezer and generally anything to get us through the week. 
  • Thinking about it, was probably not the right week to do a Spring Clean Week. Will therefore do it next week. 
  • Next week....Spring Clean week has frankly looked more like Christmas Sales week, with lots of dashing off to buy totally inappropriate items in a frenzy.  We have been to the shops to buy food that is quick to cook in a microwave, as the kitchen surfaces are still being oiled and I can't really cook in the kitchen because of the overpowering smell and no where to put the pots and pans. And then a dash to my parents over half term to avoid the dust from our ceilings being over boarded.  We will resume Waste Watchers when we return home....
However, we have made some good food saves:
  • added a spoonful or two of left over tinned tomato soup to a homemade winter vegetable and lentil soup - 50p
  • Added a small tupperware of cooked left over rice to the homemade winter vegetable and lentil soup - 50p
  • used up a green cabbage that had been sitting in the fridge for a couple of weeks to make cabbage and potato sweet(ish)curry - 50p
  • used up Saturday 10th Feb night's home made curry left overs, left over homemade winter vegetable soup, 1 tortilla wrap filled with 2 mushrooms I found in the fridge, sautéed, to make a smorgasbord of tasty dishes for a Sunday lunch -50p

Week 4: Clean plates week

posted Feb 1, 2013, 5:55 AM by Dinner Lady   [ updated Feb 8, 2013, 6:23 AM ]

This week Four and a half bellies will be eating everything off our plates...yes, every last scrap!  When there is no food scraped from plate to bin at the end of a meal we will reward ourselves with 50p into our pot. To do this we will:
  • serve smaller portions - with lots left in the pot for seconds, thirds and fourths should they be desired
  • ask everyone whether they fancy "alot" or "a little" of each bit of the meal - that way when The Noble Knight meets his nemesis in the form of courgette, he can choose to eat 1 small slice rather than a large spoonful
  • make sure that portions of seconds are small - often the children want just a little bit more, and my mistake is to pile on a second serving as large as the first, and they just haven't got room for it
  • make sure there is something that everyone (or nearly everyone) loves to eat at each meal
  • stop suffering whining and fussiness - truly hungry people do not fuss about what they are being served up! 
  • serve each person their seconds and puddings when everything on their plate has been eaten up. 
How we're doing:
  • Pretty well! Pretty much everything has been eaten up - making £9 (50p per meal), apart from 1 or 2 tsp from Princess Baby - which has been my fault for giving her too much second servings - £1 fine.
  • Mrs Doubtfire and I have got better at asking the children how much they want of each bit of food before heaping it on their plates.
  • The Noble Knight and Maths Geek have got very good at saying how much they think they can eat and so portion sizes have matched their very varying appetites.
  • On Thursday night, The Noble Knight really didn't want to eat the roasted vegetables from our North African roasted vegetables with halloumi.  But he really wanted his yoghurt and pear, and understood his choice: eat the vegetables and then have pudding; don't eat the vegetables.  He chose the former and loved the pear. 
  • Princess Baby's understanding of language and what is going on around her has really developed in the last month. On the down side, as soon as she spots someone with something to eat that she hasn't got, she pushes her plate away, flings any remaining food on the floor and says "more", pointing at the desired food stuff.  On the plus side, she understands the phrase "cereal first, then toast" and after a few tests where she continued to fling food on the floor, she realised I meant business and now finishes off her food before moving on to the next course.  
I am really pleased with this effort - much easier than I thought.  Looking forward to a fun day out at the fairground.....

Money saved from food saves this week: £9-1 (for Princess Baby's left over scraps)= £8
Total money saved from food saves: Plus £2.50 from Week 3= £10.50

How do you stop food from being thrown from plate to bin?  Email your ideas, tips and experiences to dinnerlady@fourandahalfbellies.co.uk

"I am learning to feed left overs to our cat", Caroline 

Week 3: Left overs week

posted Jan 21, 2013, 11:32 AM by Dinner Lady   [ updated Feb 8, 2013, 6:24 AM ]

Ok, so last week showed us that however well intentioned we are, we seem to cook far too much each meal in a bid to ensure that all bellies are suitably full. Or is that just our excuse for gluttony?  Whatever the answer, we need to make sure that our left overs don't outstay their welcome and get put to good use. 50p for every leftover that gets used up before it needs to head to the bin.  To do this we will:
  • keep checking the fridge to see what is lurking around at the back 
  • remind Nanny Poppins and Mrs Doubtfire that it is left overs week
  • think imaginatively how to recycle left over bits of pasta, rice, cheese
  • plan meals based on what is in the fridge 
How we're doing:
  • made a Sunshine in a Pot pasta recipe, using left over olives and capers that had been hanging around in jars in the fridge for too long - 50p
  • threw away half tin anchovies - they had been lying in fridge, uncovered, for too long and there was a confusion about who was going to use them up in what recipe - 50p fine
  • added 4-5 tbsp left over pasta pesto extravaganza to the Pasta Sunshine in a left over left over meal - 50p
  • used up about 200g left over bits of Xmas cheese to make cheese fritters - 50p
  • Remembered to eat up the left over MSC prawn curry and rice - 50p
  • used up left over roast beef to make a Winter Beef Stew and to have cold with jacket potatoes - 50p
  • used up one remaining cheese fritters, 6 left over boiled potatoes and 2 left over roasted potatoes - sliced them then fried them in goose fat. Delicious. 50p
Money saved from food saves this week: £2.50
Total money saved from food saves: Plus £1.30 from Week 2= £3.80

What imaginative things can you do with your leftovers? Email your ideas to dinnerlady@fourandahalfbellies.co.uk if you are happy to share them. 

Week 2: I cooked just enough week

posted Jan 15, 2013, 12:11 PM by Dinner Lady   [ updated Jan 21, 2013, 11:32 AM ]

This week we Four and a half bellies are trying to cook just enough pasta, rice or potatoes for each meal, so that we are not left with loads of left overs which generally tend to sit in the fridge until someone decides they are too old and throws them out.  To do this we will:
  • think carefully about how much each person is likely to eat and at each meal and then judge how much to throw in the pan accordingly 
How we're doing: 
  • made too many roast potatoes for our Sunday meal - 6 were left over, but were then fried  up by Nanny Poppins to go with the Winter Beef I cooked
  • made too much rice at lunchtime on Tuesday - 3 tbsp sat in the fridge and then moved to the bin - 50p fine
  • made too much pasta on Monday night - small takeaway sized carton full that has now been eaten by Princess Baby for lunch on Tuesday 
  • baked too many jacket potatoes for kids' supper on Tuesday night - had not realised just how large the potatoes were! Saved one of them for me to eat later in the evening but does that count? 
  • Mrs Doubtfire earned 50p by measuring out the rice quantities on Wednesday. Well done Mrs D, who usually forgets that rice expands when cooking- 50p
  • I earned 50p by cooking just enough macaroni cheese for the kids on Friday evening Only problem was that I am not convinced the boys were totally full and so they had a couple of slices of bread - 50p
Money saved this week: 50p
TOTAL SO FAR: 50p, plus 80p carried over from last week= £1.30

Cooking just enough - not too much, not to little is very hard to achieve. First of all it is sometimes hard to judge when rice and pasta swells on cooking.  Also, Mrs Doubtfire and I have some kind of fear of undercooking lest bellies go hungry - I guess we seem to think it is better to go over rather than under board. It's awful when the pot is empty and kids are clamoring for more!  As long as any left over food can be incorporated into another meal quite quickly and not forgotten so it becomes either nutritionally null and void or worse, then may be it is not such a sin.......Is it?

Week 1: Feeling fresh week

posted Jan 8, 2013, 12:13 PM by Dinner Lady   [ updated Jan 15, 2013, 12:09 PM ]

For our first week of Waste Watchers, the
Four and a half bellies will be feeling fresh. We will try our best not to throw out any fruit or vegetables. To this we will:
  • keep an eye on the fruit and vegetable bowl and try to eat things as fresh as possible before they start getting too mouldy or soft
  • try to buy our fruit and vegetable "little and often" so there is less chance of things going rotten
  • if anything is looking too soft, bruised or limp we will try to turn them into smoothies, soups, casseroles or something even more imaginative before they are beyond redemption.  
  • store some of the fresh fruit and vegetable in the fridge, keeping small amounts in the fruit bowl to prolong it's life
  • remember that eating a carrot that is looking a little floppy is unlikely to make us sick! 
  • cut our little bruises or overly soft bits out of our fruit and veg rather than throwing the whole thing away
  • share any BOG OFFS with our friends and family rather than letting them go to waste
How we're doing:
  • Using up celery to make a "not Waldorf Salad"
  • Eating up a "not Waldorf Salad" even when it was not looking it's best
  • Checked the fruit bowl and everything looked fresh
  • I looked in the fridge to do an inventory of all the fruit and veg and found there were two packs of celery. I used some up to make a "Not Waldorf Salad" and looked up celery recipes on the internet, making an adapted version of celery gratin. Not the most tasty of meals, but nice enough and tasted better than raw celery which I hate. 
  • Looked in the fruit bowl and found loads of kiwi. Persuaded TNK to join me in eating a kiwi to try to get through them.
  • Lost 10p when Mrs Doubtfire threw out 5 cooked chestnuts because "didn't think they'd be as nice in bubble and squeak" - he is now Mr Unpopular with the children.
  • Saved an orange that was rather soft in one area.  Avoided eating that area but the rest was yummy. 
  • Ate a very soft and squidgy (overripe) pear. I felt virtuous and am still well.  But it was certainly not delicious and I wondered how many nutrients were still there. Made me think it would be better to buy fewer pears in the first place than nobly eat semi-rotten ones up.
  • Finished off a spoonful of salad Mrs Doubtfire had saved from night before following cries of "Mum!  We could save that salad and make 10p!"  (meaning Mum could be the mug to finish it up and the boys could be the lucky souls who would have more money to spend on fairground rides).  It was limp, less tasty and frankly unappetising. I haven't died from the experience, but it made me think it would be better to cook/ prepare slightly less or eat slightly more rather than finish off soggy spoonfuls of left over salad. 
Total money save so far: 80p.

Eating fruit and vegetables that are a bit "past it" is not so tasty - unless they are cooked up in a stew or disguised. But I wonder about the nutrition that is left in an overripe piece of produce.  Maybe it is better to just buy less in the first place and top up when needed.  

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