I am often asked what areas people should simplify first. That question really has a lot of answers, depending on the person asking. The general answer is that if you focus first on the things that help you stay alive - like food and shelter, you can't go far wrong. So today we'll continue with the food theme and discuss food waste and using your leftovers.
I don't want to look up the food waste statistics. Last time I did that I was shocked they were so high. It seemed like such a bleak and dark story of our lack of care. I do know, because I read it in a newspaper article, that currently 15 percent of food in American households is wasted every week. That means that if your food budget is $100 per week, you'd be wasting, on average, $15 a week. That's throwing $15 every week, or $780 every year, in the rubbish bin. I would expect the figures in Australia, Canada and Europe to be similar to those in America. We shame ourselves with statistics like that. There should be no, or very little, food waste in your bin at the end of the week. This is something we can all work on - I know I am guilty of leaving food too long in the fridge.
Of course the best way is to plan well so there is no wastage. Planning needs to be done at the buying stage, assisted by meal plans, freezer and stockpile lists. Often the food doesn't even get to the cooking or left over stage. It sits neglected in the fridge for weeks and is then thrown in the bin. (Insert my shamed face here.)
Meal plans are a bit like budgets. They help you look at your resources in a way that helps cut down or eliminate waste and use what you have to get the best value for your dollar/pound. If you haven't tried meal planning yet, give it a go. It may well save you lots of time, effort and money. Don't forget to include snacks, fruit and baked goods in your plans and stick the plan on the fridge so everyone knows well in advance what's for dinner and how to help you prepare it.
LINKS FOR MEAL PLANS AND RECIPES
Australian recipe collections
Meal plans with recipes
Frugal menu ideas
Downloadable Food Plans Recipe Book (USA) with meal plans
Ten tips for successful meal planning (Canada)
Once the meal is finished, how often do you have leftovers? If it's quite often, maybe you need to cook less. I do know many cooks make too much on purpose so they have leftovers for lunch the following day. I tend to make leftovers into the main meal the following night Here is a recipe I made up last week from the leftovers of roast pork. You could make the same thing with beef, lamb, goat, venison or chicken. Just make sure you make too much gravy on the first night so that you have about a cup of gravy left over.
Coarsely mince up the leftover meat. I used my food processor to do that. It will only take 30 seconds or so to do. I remember though, doing this task for my mum when I was young and using a meat grinder - one of those metal ones that you attach to the kitchen table and grind with the handle. So, of course, the old-fashioned way is also suitable, or you could just cut it up with your sharp knife. Make sure you don't over process it - you want to retain the texture of the meat, not have it like paste.
My mother used to call this dish - Hash, so here is my recipe for using leftover roast post - Pork Hash.
Peel four potatoes and boil them in a saucepan.
Add a small amount of olive oil to a frying pan, heat it and add one chopped onion, two chopped up sticks of celery and one carrot. When the vegetables are soft and golden brown, add the chopped up meat, and stir.
If you have any leftover vegetables, add them too. Stir it all together and add the gravy.
Stir until the gravy has coated the meat and everything is hot. Then transfer the meat to an oven proof dish.
When the potatoes are cooked, mash them, adding a little butter, hot milk, salt and pepper. Top the meat with the potatoes.
Cook in a hot oven for about 30 minutes or until the potatoes are golden brown.
I served ours with corn and beans from the garden and it was delicious.
On Monday I'll write about using food waste to feed the animals and how to make homemade dog food and treats. Tomorrow we'll continue with our kitchen sink photos.
I have enough kitchen photos to show for the next few weeks. When I'm coming to the end of them, I'll let you know when and where to send them. So if you're interested in having your photos featured, get your photos ready in the next three weeks. Tomorrow there is a kitchen from China and Sunday we have one from France. That's you Caitlin and Shandora! Caitlin, please send me a link to your blog if you have one.
Thank you for your visits this week. It's been a very busy one for me, mostly doing things behind the scenes that might one day make it into the blog. I hope you have a restful weekend.