Handy guide to eating left-overs

6 09 2010

Monday 6th September sees the start of the third national “Zero Waste Week”, and just like our dear friend Mrs Green of MyZeroWaste we at VegBox Recipes and Ooffoo plan to give it our full support.

This year’s theme is ‘Cooking for Victory’ in response to WRAPS “household Food and Drink Waste in the UK” report. The report shows we throw away 8.3 million tonnes of food and drink every year. Most of this is avoidable and could have been eaten if we had planned, stored and managed it better. This amount of food waste costs the average family in Britain £50 per month. And in these economic times, that’s £50 per month few of us can spare. What could you do with that £600 you’d save in a year? And if that’s only the average, then some of us are wasting a whole lot more than that…

We have made our own pledge, to publish this “handy guide to eating left-overs”, which we really hope you’ll:

1) find useful,

and, more importantly,

2) add your own ideas to, using the Comments field down there.

Alternatively, rather than adding your ideas here, why not add them to Mrs G’s website and put yourself in the running to win one of the two great prizes that she has up for grabs: a £50 LUSH voucher and £50 Natural Collection voucher!

Click through for the “Handy Guide to Eating Left-overs


Are sell-by dates past their sell-by date?

11 08 2009
government concern

government concern

As part of the publicity surrounding yesterday’s launch of the DEFRA report and public consultation on food security, Hilary Benn suprised (and no doubt outraged) a lot of people by suggesting that shoppers should ignore “best before” dates on food to reduce the amount thrown away. Click through to read some shocking statistics about how buyers are mis-reading food labelling and to share your opinions on what the Government should do, if anything, to stop unnecessary food waste.

Left-Over Pizza with Seed Thinnings On Top!

27 07 2009
sunday night monday morning

sunday night monday morning

Left over Sunday-night pizza and a dislike of food waste bumps up against a Monday-lunch-time craving for greenery and some much needed seed thinning activity. Can you guess what happened?! Read on

Growing Our Own – update 2 from the new VegBox Garden

10 02 2009

Today has been like a very happy cross between Blue Peter and Ground Force!

blue skies

blue skies again

Somehow, the snow of last week put me off even doing the indoor jobs needed to keep the new VegBox Garden heading in the right direction. But today the sky is blue, and the lean-to seemed more inviting. Having turned off the central heating and confined myself to this one room, I felt ok about having a little electric heater going. And whilst the bobble hat and fluffy socks are not my most alluring look, I’m cosy enough not just to do the gardening but to blog whilst I’m in here!

Step 1 – I filled my arms full of all the cardboard boxes and tubes and plastic yogurt pots I’ve been saving to re-use since before Christmas, then shuffled through the house dropping them like breadcrumbs, finally reaching the lean-to dribbling toilet roll inner tubes like an FA cup champion on training day.

home-made seed planters

home-made seed planters

Step 2 – watched Mrs Green’s video on making carrot seed planters out of re-used toilet roll inner tubes, keeping up with her as she went and ending up with a happy little row of home-made containers, slotted into converted catfood product boxes to keep them secure, and finally set inside rolled-down biodegradable plastic recycling bags.

I was really chuffed with the orange bag touch. Firstly, I’m hoping it will help keep water from leaking all over the place when I water the little seedlings. Secondly – I’ve just discovered I’ve got to move out at the end of this month, so I figure that when the time comes, I can move them by rolling up the bag to carry them in.

polystyrene cooler for re-use as a planter

polystyrene cooler for re-use as a planter

Step 3 – Carrot planters duly made, I moved on to creating a planter for the broad beans out of the last Abel & Cole cooler box my milk arrived in. I wasn’t sure if it was OK to plant directly into polystyrene, but I found a brilliant Australian website called PermUP and they were using very similar boxes, so I felt reassured.

Step 4 – Ahem … texted the VegBox Husband and ask him to pick up some soil for me on his way back from work … Then checked the RocketGardens guidelines on seed spacing for broad beans and lettuce so I know what I’m doing when the soil is delivered. Oops. That is, graciously acquired on my behalf and brought home lovingly, of course. Not delivered. No no.

puy and red lentil mix for bake

puy and red lentil mix for bake

Step 5 – Gazed adoringly at the array of home-made planters, peeked inside the broad beans packet, took photos of everything in site, including the new composting dalek in the garden, and snaffled down some lunch, which today was left-overs of last night’s VegBox House-mate enticing success – lentil bake with spicy red cabbage and apple on the side.

Step 6 – Posted about this morning’s “re-use“-erama on the eco community site “ooffoo“, where they are asking readers to vote (at the bottom on the homepage) on whether re-use is good for the economy, and running a competition to find the most innovative and inspiring re-use ideas.

If there is a better route to happiness than steps 1-6, I haven’t found it yet!

What have you lovely folks been doing on the growing your own front?

Obama, Vegetables and Global Hunger …

22 01 2009

It’s been an incredibly significant week in the history of the world.

And at first it seemed slightly surreal to blog about vegetable recipes in the midst of it all!

Yet strangely, how to feed ourselves is one of the most critical topics on the current political agenda. And not just in the USA.

In this month’s “Dis-Patch from the Veg-Patch” section of our newsletter, we talked not only about our own efforts to grow food in the back garden, but also spoke for a second time about the Eat the View campaign to persuade the new President to convert the White House lawn into a “Victory Garden” designed to inspire others to do the same. Less food miles so less petrol (oil) and less carbon emissions, less pesticides (oil again), less global warming, improved health, lower healthcare costs …

The resounding message right now is not just that “we are what we eat”, but that “we are how we grow and buy what we eat”.

Over on AboutMyPlanet, there is a timely reminder from Craig Baird that if we are going to change how we grow, we’d better do it soon. A reminder that the way we grow – and shop for – food now will have a direct impact on whether we’ll be able to grow food at all in the future. According to some estimates, in only 91 years, one in two people will be going hungry because of the effects of rising temperatures both on crop yields and on how much water falls to fill supplies.

Barack Obama invited Americans to “seize gladly” the opportunities to meet our duties to the planet and the people on it. Whether or not you’re American, if you’re already committed to personal changes designed to preserve and sustain our life on earth, keep going! Is there any more can you do? Who else can you inspire?

zero waste week

zero waste week

And if you’re at the beginning of this journey and are not sure where to start … how about starting your own Victory Garden? Or reducing your household waste just like Mrs Green and so many of the residents of Gloucestershire this week?

And (of course!) how about moving away from eating oil disguised as asparagus flown in from Peru, and moving toward simply buying, cooking and savouring the flavours of what’s in season where you are?

Get Involved With Zero Waste Week

20 08 2008

The first week of September is zero waste week for Rachelle and her family in Gloucestershire.

Going to landfillSince June, they’ve been working on reducing the amount they send to landfill and, in just 2 weeks’ time, they are going for the big fat zero.
They started off throwing away about a kilo a week of rubbish – already quite small, compared to many households. And in an interview today Raechelle shared with me some of her top tips for keeping your rubbish down.

She started by making it clear that she feels fortunate to live just 3 miles from a recycling centre that takes all the usual recyclables, plus tetra-paks and polythene, which helps.

Shopping locally has a massive impact.

Moving on from that, she found that the more she shops locally from small producers, the more open they are to her requests to bring and use her own packaging.

For example, her local butcher agrees to put the meat in the boxes she brings in, rather than wasting non-recyclable plastic trays. She has a local grocer who allows her to do the same with cheese. And she buys her fruit and vegetables from a local organic farm shop, where she can use paper bags or reuse her own.
All of this makes a massive contribution.

But she said the biggest challenge is the things you simply don’t think about, such as broken CD cases and other seemingly random items that can’t be repaired.

Convenience is what fills up your bin.

Rachelle is pragmatic and practical in her approach and, whilst passionate about inspiring others to reduce the amount they send to landfill, she openly admits that convenience is what fills up your bin.

“Sometimes,” she says, “when you just don’t feel like cooking and get that take away, you end up with plastic pots that have to go to landfill.”

She hopes that her Zero Waste Week in September will serve to inspire others to join in, sowing the seeds that we can all do a bit more, by shopping more consciously.

“I see our zero waste week as a beginning, not an end. It’s the beginning of a new level of awareness. Until life changes and we’re all living off nothing but local produce with no packaging, we will still produce rubbish, but our aim is to keep our bin bag below 150g per week. We will have to be satisfied with that.”

One of the valid questions that Rachelle poses is whether what is collected by our councils is really being recycled or incinerated in a far-flung land. She is actively working with her county council in Gloucestershire as an ambassador for recycling and they have been inspired to launch a county-wide zero waste week challenge early in 2009! Rachelle would love us all to be getting in touch with our councils and MPs to help spread this initiative.

“There is so much mixed information out there, particularly as different districts within even a single county have different recycling policies. We need clarity of information to stop the confusion and allow people to have a go.”

If you’d like to step up to the challenge and get involved with Zero Waste Week in September, make sure you tell Rachelle about how you’re getting on via her My Zero Waste website. She’s got lots of eco companies involved to offer prizes to those who really make the effort!

My Zero Waste Website

My Zero Waste Website

And a final thought: Rachelle was spurred into action by reading one MP’s comments that “It is our birthright to have a rubbish collection”. Hmmm. What are your thoughts?