Use it up! and change the world

food-shoppingOver on Reduce footprints this week we’ve been set an awesome challenge.

We’ve been asked to use what is in our cupboards, pantry and freezers before buying new food items.

As you might be aware, reducing food waste is one of my more passionate areas in life!

For a few months I had this down to a fine art and managed to throw zero food away each week, but it took a lot of planning and I’ve got off the bandwagon a bit. The average household in the UK throws away one third of the food they buy. While I haven’t got quite that bad again there is certainly room for improvement.

I’m also on a decluttering mission and I’m trying to save a bit of money, so this challenge has come at a perfect time for me. What better way to achieve all these goals by having a rummage through the cupboards and meal planning around my loot?

After last week of going hardcore for the challenge I’m going to say that I *will* be buying fresh fruit and vegetables this week. They form such a large part of our diet that I’m not prepared to go without. But for tins and packets I’m willing to buy nothing for a week (or even longer).

The first step in reducing food waste is to take an inventory of what you have. Check the following six storage areas (and let me know if I’ve forgotten one):

  • Refrigerator for anything that is about to go off
  • Fruit bowl for anything going soft
  • Vegetable rack for anything going wrinkly
  • Food you are growing outside that needs harvesting
  • Packets of stuff shoved at the back of the cupboards that you’ve forgotten about
  • UFOs (unidentified frozen objects) in the freezer

Write everything down and then the fun begins – it’s time to get creative! Plan some of the meals your family likes to eat around the food you already have. If you don’t have an ingredient for your favourite recipe then this is the week to experiement – either leave it out, or substitute it with something you do have.

If you’re like me and rebel at recipes then you are only limited by your imagination. We’ve put some strange sounding concoctions together here at Chez Green but some of them have turned out to be family favourites. My ‘Sunday lunch soup’ is one such meal 😉

For fruit and veg that are wrinkly, don’t throw them away – use them up NOW! Make smoothies, pies and juices from the fruit, and soup or a big batch of pasta sauce from the vegetables – it’s basically food for free!

For things that are about to go off in the fridge, today is the day to use them up – either cook up and eat, invite friends around for an impromptu party or freeze them for later use.

Ok, I’m off to the kitchen to have a mooch around. I’d love you to join in and share some of your favourite ‘chuck it all in’ meals with me! Catch us on twitter: Little Green Blog and use the #ctww hashtag.


  1. Small Footprints on August 8, 2011 at 1:01 am

    Hi Mrs. Green … this is “off topic” but I know that you’ve been a follower of Argentum Vulgaris and “Eco Crap” for awhile so thought you might want to know that he has recently lost all of his blogs and posts. I can’t even imagine! Anyway, he has started a new blog … he says it’s an interim blog until he gets things settled. So if you have minute, I think he could use a little bloggy “love”. Here’s his address:

    Thanks, Mrs. Green! 🙂

  2. Small Footprints on August 9, 2011 at 11:41 pm

    I love that … UFOs (teehee). My hubby and I decided, some time ago, to eliminate certain ingredients from our diet … high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. That has excluded a lot of things, including most pancake syrup. So, we use wrinkly fruits to make a compote for topping pancakes, waffles … or ice cream. 🙂 So many fruits and veggies that don’t look perfect are actually quite usable. Soups, broths, etc. don’t seem to require totally fresh and beautiful items. Of course, the older the produce, the less nutritionally sound so we do try to use things in a timely manner. 🙂

  3. Brenna @ Almost All The Truth on August 12, 2011 at 6:53 am

    It is truly amazing the amount of waste that people (both in the UK and in the US specifically) produce. How have we gotten to the point that we can throw away up to a third of the food we buy? Staggering.

    I know I could do better, and I am, but hopefully more people will read and start thinking a little more carefully about what they buy and how they use it.

  4. Mrs Green on August 15, 2011 at 6:31 am

    @Small Footprints: Love the pancake topping idea; we seldom eat them; I’m sure they’re more of a US thing but little miss green LOVES them.

    @Brenna @ Almost All The Truth: Hi Brenna, it makes me sad to think we ‘can’t feed the world’ but I think we CAN if we just took what we needed… Well done on addressing this issue in your own life 🙂

  5. Next Starfish on August 15, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    Great post about an important issue – love the freezer UFOs, just like our house !

    As well as saving ourselves money, and filling-up the landfills less, not throwing away so much food should result in more food from the global food markets being left in the mouths of hungry people across the world.

    The writer Tristram Stuart writes about this connection in his book Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal, which is an excellent read for anyone wanting to delve into the issue deeper.

    I wrote a short article on the same topic on my own blog earlier this month:

    Keep up the good work 🙂

  6. Mrs Green on August 19, 2011 at 10:04 am

    @Next Starfish: I agree about a better sharing of food wealth. It breaks my heart that we throw away 1/3 of the food we buy yet people across the world are starving. .It seems immoral somehow. I’ll check out your blog post – thanks for sharing!