Friday, 20 September 2013

Food Waste Friday - meat free Monday muddles...

I have been watching from a safe bloggy distance as Jen from My Make Do and Mend Year writes about her participation in this week's Waste Less Live More Challenge which this year is focusing on Better Food For All.

It's almost a year and a half since I started joining in Frugal Girl's Food Waste Friday each week, and in that short time food and food waste has become a huge talking point in the UK, from all sorts of perspectives. The Better Food For All campaign draws together the environmental and social aspects of food waste.  In their own words:

"If we eat better and waste less food ourselves, society and the planet can benefit:

  1. The environment – food has one of the largest environmental impacts of any sector whilst still over 1/3 of food is wasted and even more never reaches a human mouth.
  2. People – much of the food we throw away is good for us – fruit, vegetables for example, make people feel happier.
  3. Society – the food thrown away in Europe and North America would be enough to feed all the hungry people in the world three times over. Food waste increases food prices and increases the risk of food poverty."
Each day of this week had a different theme: Meat Free Monday, Try Something New Tuesday, Waste Less Wednesday, Thrifty Thursday, Fruitful Friday whilst Share Something Saturday and Seasonal Sunday are still to come this weekend! I didn't specifically join in the challenge to the letter but I love the themes as they encapsulate my own approach to food - the growing, the buying, the cooking and the eating of - and I generally have one or other of them loosely held in mind whenever I'm shopping or cooking.

Our menu plan this week was almost entirely meat-free (fish fingers excepted) so Meat Free Monday was a breeze! We had Crank's Mushroom Stroganoff (recipe below) with broccoli and our own homegrown runner beans, but herein lay this week's food waste...

I had earmarked Monday's leftover stroganoff and rice (it's much tastier than the photo would suggest!) for my lunch at work on Tuesday (hurrah for the Learning Support microwave) and Monday's leftover dessert (sliced oranges) for my breakfast. Unfortunately I didn't communicate my lunch plans to the person clearing away after our meal and Husband mixed both nicely together for the chicken. (Yes, I mean the chicken, singular - her story to be blogged soon). Undeterred, I separated out the orange and still had stroganoff à l'orange and rice for lunch, but I didn't fancy orange au strogonaff for breakfast, so the chicken got the fruit. 

Another area where the chicken won hands down is in the runner bean department. We always end up with some stringy tough ones that have been left growing for too long before we pick them. Although I know in my heart of hearts that they will be inedible, every year I persist in the belief that I possess some special magical powers that will render crunchy, chewy, scratch-your-throat runner beans soft and delicious upon extended boiling. It never works.

And there was lettuce waste too. Lettuce acts as a barometer in our house. If there are a few leaves going slimy in the fridge then it means the weather's turned cooler and no-one fancies salad anymore. It's official - Autumn is here. The lettuce says so.

Mushroom Stroganoff

One large onion
4 celery sticks
350g mushrooms
50g marg or butter (I used sunflower oil)
15 ml flour
150ml water
1 tsp yeast extract
Half tsp thyme
140ml soured cream (I've substituted cream cheese or yogurt in the past)
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped parsley to garnish

Sauté the onion and celery until the onion is transparent. Add mushrooms and stir occasionally over a medium heat. Stir in the flour, add the water, yeast extract and herbs. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 2-3 minutes.  Off the heat stir in the cream (or substitute) and adjust seasoning to taste. Heat very gently to serving temperature. Serve at once on freshly cooked rice and garnish with parsley.

Food Waste Friday was dreamt up by, to encourage people to use up food instead of waste it. This week you can find Food Waste Friday hosted by 


  1. When I have tough green beans, I shell them and just eat the beans inside.

    Also, in the stroganoff recipe is the yeast extract there to improve nutrition or is it important for the taste? It's not something we normally use, and I don't like to buy stuff for just one recipe. I have a full spice cabinet that made me come to that conclusion.

    1. Ah yes, the marmite - a store cupboard staple here but not over there. I guess it's in the recipe for taste but will add some Vitamin B12 to the mix too. You could easily make the stroganoff without it. Season well or maybe add a dash of soy sauce or veg stock.

  2. Like live and learn, we eat the beans from inside tough beans. The rabbit is also happy to eat up the tough outside so I can get away with thinking that there is therefore no waste : )

    Our chickens are also very good at eating what is no longer "people food". I have a wormery too and compost bins so all food things end up somewhere. Our aim is always that food goes to people first but like everybody else, we do slip up sometimes and something ends up in the compost that should have been eaten by us.

    Looking forward to hearing the story of your chicken.

    1. I don't know why I've never thought of rescuing the beans inside but that's a good idea. Our chickens have always done really well for leftovers from us and the neighbours but the one chicken that's left can't keep up and we're starting to have to think about what we should do with food waste that can't be composted.

  3. Stroganoff a l'orange sounds interesting, but good on you for eating it :)

    1. It wasn't too orangey - it was still quite yummy!