Waste not, want not

The time has come to change our wasteful ways, says award-winning journalist Richard Johnson.

Waste not, want not

I grew up on leftovers – heaven knows what happened to the original meal. When I became an adult, I vowed my life would be different – no more bubble and squeak. That changed the day I met Dr William Rathje, the world’s leading ‘garbologist’. He’s been trawling through kitchen garbage for 30 years, analysing what we throw away, and what he told me made me ashamed of myself.

The fact is that a third of the food we buy in this country ends up in the bin. That includes old tea bags and vegetable peelings, but much of it is perfectly edible, such as bits of cheese and fruit and veg that are just a bit past their best. I worked out that I was chucking away £30 from my weekly shop. That’s £120 a month, or £1,440 a year – a lot of money. It’s also a lot of food: Britain throws away 6.7 million tonnes per year.

The best way to reduce waste is to do what your granny did, and plan a weekly menu. Stick to it when you shop, by taking a list, and don’t be swayed by special offers unless you really plan to use them. As Heston Blumenthal told me: “Supermarkets often have to discard fresh produce due to date restrictions, so keep your eye on the bargain shelves.”

If you’re still struggling with leftovers, knock up a really big batch of soup and freeze the surplus for the days when you can’t face cooking. Don’t be prissy about it. Pretty much anything can be used to make soup!

This is an extract from a piece written exclusively for delicious. magazine’s April issue, by award-winning journalist and TV presenter Richard Johnson.

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