Do you buy more than you can use then end up throwing half of it away? Or buy only what you need, and even then use what many would call rubbish? Do you refuse food sold on the last Best Before Date even though it’s sold at a drastically reduced price? Or when you see a bargain, will you buy things you don’t normally buy, just to increase variety?
Last week I bought a loaf of whole wheat sandwich bread, you know the pre-sliced kind, baked in a square tin to make perfect square sandwiches, and sold in a plastic bag. I wanted toast for the next morning, but the shop didn’t have any of my usual unsliced, whole wheat and I seldom eat white. I had decided to go without, but when I got to the till (cash register) there was this 18 pence loaf of bread staring me in the face so, even though I never buy pre-sliced bread, I bought it. It was on the last day of its Best Before yet it made fine toast for five days. Apparently the British throw away about 32% of the bread they buy, which is about 680,000 tons a year- because it’s not perfectly fresh! That’s a lot of bread. It could feed a lot of hungry people. It could save lives.
Stopping the waste before it comes into our homes is the goal of British MP Kerry McCarthy who recently proposed a food waste bill to oblige supermarkets and restaurants to give some of the food they throw away, to charity instead. I’m not a dumpster diver, but I’ve met people who are and was appalled when they told me they went to the dumpsters behind Supermarkets to get their food – but – they explained, it’s perfectly good food and it’s thrown it away. If McCarthy’s bill gets through, dumpster divers will be finding slimmer pickings, but less food will end up in land fill sites and instead, land in the stomachs of more hungry people than those willing to dumpster pick.
I’m really frugal and won’t throw away anything unless it’s gone moldy, or obviously rotten. But then I don’t usually buy more than I can eat. I’ll make salad in an empty mayonnaise jar, to get the last bit of mayo; and rinse pesto bottles with a little milk to get another serving of sauce. Fruit and veg that are old, or even half rotten, are cut up and added to something I’m cooking (not the rotten part). I use left overs in a new dish. I just don’t waste food.
There are millions of hungry and malnourished people the world over, and the planet seems able to produce enough food for all of us, it just needs a new distribution system. Not wasting what comes my way is my contribution to developing that new system.
How about you? Do you create new dishes from old food? Or just chuck out what looks a bit off?
Most of my recipes are pretty frugal, and started with Recipes from an Empty Fridge, so if you’re looking for ways to use up bits you might otherwise chuck, I hope you find a recipe on here that will inspire you.
- Breadcrumbs: Can be made from both fresh and stale bread
- Bread and butter pudding: Use white bread, croissants, brioche or panettone
- Crab cakes and crushed peas: Make a crispy breadcrumb coat
- Treacle tart: Use fresh breadcrumbs for the filling
- French toast: Uses slices of stale white bread
- Cauliflower cheese: Add ciabatta breadcrumbs to make the topping
Do you have any other ideas?
- Beyond croutons: Uses for stale bread (mysanantonio.com)
- Dumpster Diving? (todaysnews4you.wordpress.com)
- Spoil sport: How I learned to stop worrying and love the dumpster (grist.org)
- One man’s trash: Dumpster diving for breakfast [VIDEO] (grist.org)
- Is It OK to Dumpster Dive for a Pot Luck? (treehugger.com)
- Family Gets 75% Of Their Groceries From Dumpsters (blisstree.com)
- Let’s Waste Less Food (thriftysocialworker.com)
- From Dumpster To Fork: A Dumpster Diver’s Adventures At Trader Joe’s & Whole Foods (laist.com)
- French Toast was Originally Typically Made Using Stale Bread (todayifoundout.com)
- Refresh Stale Bread with Celery (lifehacker.com)
- The Big Waste: Food Network Looks at Food Waste in America (eatdrinkbetter.com)
- Supermarkets pressed to donate spare food to charities (guardian.co.uk)
- Let’s end food waste (howtokeepfood.com)
- Rethinking Food Waste (greenconduct.com)
- No More Food Waste! (simplycooking.wordpress.com)
- Snacks Made From Food Waste And Other Food (theforagingsquirrel.wordpress.com)