Daily Archives: 16 January 2012

Using up Leftovers

With the arrival of the twins, life has taken on such a frenetic pace that just trying to keep on top of all the daily rituals is a challenge.

Stop wasting foodMeal planning and using up leftovers seems to have fallen by the wayside and we have begun to waste food – one of my pet hates! I am sure I am not the only working mum to feel like this.

According to Love Food Hate Waste website, we throw away 7.2 million tonnes of food from our homes every year in the UK. That is just a ridiculous quantity! So, what do we do about it?

I am seriously opposed to clearing everything on your plate. This was a great mantra when food was in short supply and people got plenty of exercise, but nowadays, with our increasingly sedentary lifestyles I believe that when you are full you should stop eating.

So what should we do to ensure that we shop and eat efficiently?

The first is obvious, if you throw away cooked food, then cook smaller portions. If you throw away uncooked food, plan your meals for six days, make a shopping list and stick to it (internet shopping is great for this as there is less temptation). When your shopping arrives, check the use-by dates on meat and fish. If they can’t be used within a week then pop in the freezer until the night before you plan to use them. Follow your menu plan and on the seventh day, use up any leftovers for your meals.

Great ways of using up leftovers are:

  • Omelette – just add any leftover cooked meat or veg or cheese.
  • Baked potato – add grated leftover cheese or cold meat, with leftover salad or veg.
  • Homemade soup – throw in all your leftover veg, add some stock, cook for 15-20 mins, then whiz with the blender. Add some leftover cheese or cream at this point too, if you like. Some of my best soups have been made this way!
  • Pasta – two super-easy ways of using leftovers with pasta:
  • Sauté any minced meat and/or leftover veg. Add a tin of chopped tomatoes or some passatta and serve with cooked pasta (you could also top with leftover cheeses).
  • Sauté leftover veg, add a tub of soft cheese to the pan to melt and serve with cooked pasta.
  • Fried rice is also an easy way to use up bit and bobs. Stir fry your veg, add to cooked rice with a dash of oil and soy sauce (and an egg too if you like).
  • Dessert – fruit is an easy one, just chop anything that looks a little tired and serve with yogurt or custard or a meringue nest. Instant, healthy pud!
All of this just takes a little time and planning and I am determined to fit it into our busy schedule. I still haven’t figured out a way of using up mouldy bread and so the local badgers can continue to enjoy it spread with peanut butter!
Spaghetti Soup

Spaghetti Soup
Try this super soup from Clever Cooking for One or Two
(a fab book that is aimed at cutting waste).

It’s perfect for using up the odd carrot and few
mushrooms you may have lurking in the fridge.

Recipe taken from Clever Cooking for One or Two.

Spaghetti Soup

A perfect dish after the excesses of Christmas – wholesome, healthy and delicious.

Spaghetti Soup

Preparation time 10 minutes
Cooking time 30 minutes
Calories per portion 186 Kcal
Fat per portion 10g
of which saturated 2.1g
Serves 2
Suitable for vegetarians + freezing

Olive oil 1 tbsp
Onion 1 small, peeled and sliced
Carrot 1, peeled and diced
Button mushrooms 4–6, wiped and chopped
Chopped tomatoes 227g can
Vegetable stock cube 1
Boiling water 600ml (1 pint)
Angel hair spaghetti or rice noodles 25g (1oz)
Pesto sauce 1 tbsp
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Grated Parmesan-like cheese 1/2–1 tbsp

1 Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and carrot and cook over a medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables have started to soften. Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook for a further 2–3 minutes.

2 Add the canned tomatoes, stock cube and water to the pan and bring the mixture to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer the soup for 12–15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Break the spaghetti or noodles into pieces and add to the pan, then boil the soup, uncovered, for 2–3 minutes, or until the pasta is cooked.

3 Stir half of the pesto into the soup and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into a serving bowl and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and remaining pesto just before serving.

Cook’s tip
If the soup thickens too much, add a little extra boiling water. The soup may thicken after freezing; again, add more water.

Shopper’s tip
You can use ordinary spaghetti, but it will need to be added at the beginning of step 2. You may need to add more water.

Recipe taken from Clever Cooking for One or Two.

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