Two families share their top tips on how to make the family budget go further.
It’s one of life’s essentials – where would we be without our daily bread?
Yet every year Edinburgh families chuck out enough slices of bread to stretch the length of the Royal Mile no fewer than 13 times.
Indeed, food waste in the capital adds up to a massive 33,000 tonnes every year – that’s the equivalent of 74m meals which end up dumped.
The Scottish Government has a target to reduce all food waste by 33 per cent by 2025. But with fussy kids, tempting supermarket offers encouraging us to buy more than we need and a throwaway society, how can we all do our bit to win the battle of the food waste bin?
Here two Edinburgh families reveal how they are winning the food waste war, and taking steps to ensure food doesn’t end up wasted.
Cecile Starsmeare lives with her daughter Briony, six, in Pencaitland.
For single mum Cecile, every penny counts. Chucking good food into the waste bin just doesn’t add up. Instead, she makes use of clever tricks to ensure what she has, she uses.
“I have a limited budget,” she explains. “So I make a point of not buying too much. Then I keep a watch on portion sizes and anything that we don’t use, I freeze. The freezer is my saviour.”
Cecile works at East Coast Organics farm in Pencaitland, and stocks up on fresh vegetables to turn into homemade soup and salads.
“It’s organic, and not every vegetable is perfect,” she adds. “But that doesn’t matter. Same with fruit or vegetables that are a bit bruised – I just cut off the bad bits and use the rest.”
She uses her loaf by popping her bread into the freezer and just using what she needs, rather than it going stale. Everything from leftover lemons for drinks and pasta sauce is tucked away for a later date.
She’ll even freeze Briony’s half-eaten burger rather than see it go to waste.
If the freezer is her friend, online recipes are her inspiration. “I will quite often go to the kitchen, and then type a few ingredients into Google to see what recipes come up.”
Tackling food waste isn’t difficult, she adds. “It’s about getting into the routine of watching how much you buy and making use of what you have.”
Elaine and Sam Baynes live in Bonally with their children Molly, four, and Jamie, two.
Teacher Elaine keeps on top of what’s in her kitchen cupboards – by jotting down what she needs on a handy blackboard. “It hangs on the inside of the cupboard door,” she explains. “So when I run short of something, I know exactly what I need to buy.”
The family’s approach to food waste is simple – they use just about everything they can. “Peelings and egg shells go in the food bin, but not much else,” says Elaine (39).
So how do they do it?
Elaine gets around any temptation to buy too much during the supermarket run by doing her shopping online – saving her precious time, too.
Clever habits, like popping everything from chopped spring onions to the dregs of a bottle of wine into the freezer – she pours it into an ice cube tray and uses it to flavour casseroles – keeps the waste down.
And while they used to struggle to use up the ‘heels’ of their bread, they’re now taking inspiration from a new Zero Waste Scotland recipe book full of ideas and tips to cut back on food waste, and blitzing it to make a tasty crumb topping for macaroni cheese.
Adds Elaine: “It’s not hard to keep on top of it, and once you’re in a routine you end up eating better because you’re eating food you make yourself.
“Nothing goes to waste if we can avoid it.”
To download the What's In Your Kitchen recipe booklet and view videos, go to www.zerowastescotland.org.uk/whatsinyourkitchen
Cheat’s Cauliflower Cheese
By Kathleen Vaughn, Waste Wise Volunteers
Serves: 4 Time: 20 minutes
1 large cauliflower
1 large knob of butter
100g grated hard cheese
Salt and pepper
1. Cut the cauliflower into small florets. Place in a pan and cover with lightly salted water. Bring to the boil
and simmer for about 5 minutes or until al dente.
2. Drain well, toss with the butter, cream and plenty of salt and pepper.
3. Preheat the grill to medium high. Place the cauliflower florets into a shallow ovenproof dish in which they fit in one layer.
4. Combine the cheese and breadcrumbs and scatter generously over the top.
5. Place under the grill until golden brown and toasted.
6. Serve straight away as an accompaniment.
Tip: If you need to you can top up the cream with crème fraiche or a little whole milk.
Make use of stale bread by blitzing it in a blender to make breadcrumbs. Store the breadcrumbs in a bag in the freezer for use in all sorts of dishes such as cauliflower cheese, fish cakes and croquettes.