The average household throws away 6.5kg of food every week which mainly consists of leftover food or food that has just gone past itís best. I just hate the thought of throwing food away and over the years have found a few tricks to reduce food wastage.
Cook the right amount - Cooking the right amount will reduce waste, always check packets for the recommended amount per person. For example, around 75g per person is usually enough for pasta and rice.
Leftover dinners - Leftover dinners like pasta bakes, bolognaises, stews and curries are perfect for lunches the next day or even freezing for a quick meal another time. There is no excuse for throwing any leftover meals as they can all be heated up again the next day.
Pasta and rice - If you have cooked too much rice or pasta and it all clumps together, pour boiling water over it to revive it.
Black/bruised bananas - Black, bruised or over-ripe bananas are perfect for making cakes, banana bread or a banana pudding. A simple search for recipes that use bananas and involve cooking will give you lots more ideas.
Stale doughnuts, cookies and bread rolls - Refresh stale doughnuts, cookies or bread rolls by putting them in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. Leave to rest for a couple of minutes because in the case of doughnuts the filling will be too hot.
Garlic bread - Many a time Iíve forgotten about the garlic bread in the oven and over-cooked it and it becomes dry and crispy but not burnt. My usual trick is to take it out of the oven and wrap it in foil straight away. The foil will make it sweat slightly which will make the bread less dry and more moist.
Fresh herbs - Fresh herbs donít keep for very long but they do freeze well especially coriander. Whenever a recipe calls for coriander I grab the bag from the freezer, give it a good scrunch to break it up and then spoon or pour what I want straight in to the pot or pan. Another way of preserving fresh herbs is by chopping them up, putting them in to ice cube trays and covering with olive oil.
Soft tomatoes - As long as theyíre not rotten or mouldy theyíre perfect for chucking in a pasta sauce or making a soup.
Lettuce - Never cut lettuce with a metal knife, always use plastic, because the edges will go brown and it will start to go rotten. Limp salad leaves and greens can be revived by soaking them for 20 minutes in a bowl of cold water with a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice. Give a quick rinse and pat dry with paper towels or a clean tea towel.
Mouldy cheese - If youíve noticed a block of cheese has started to go mouldy, donít throw it away. Simply cut a 2 mm thick slice off each side and then youíll have a perfectly good block of cheese.
Vegetables - Old limp vegetables are great for boiling and making a vegetable mash or a soup. Have a look at my Root Vegetable soup recipe.
Eggs - I never go by the best before date on eggs, there are some simple tests you can do to tell if the egg is good or bad.
Crystalised honey and syrup - If you want to use the last drop of honey or syrup in the jar and itís gone hard or has crystalised, just take the lid off and zap the jar in the microwave for a few second to melt it. If necessary let it cool before using.
Burned or crumbly cake - Either had the temperature up too high or forgot about the cake you were cooking in the oven? As long as it hasnít been cremated you can fix it by carefully slicing the burned parts off. Put a bit of frosting on top to hide an uneven cake and no one would have known but make sure you fan the crumbs off first otherwise your frosting will be messy.
If your cake it too crumbly then just use it as a base to make a trifle.
Leftover wine - Forgot to put the cork in the bottle of wine and it doesnít taste very nice? Well donít throw it away as it will still be fine in cooking. If youíre not going to use it that day then pour it in to an icecube tray and then you can add the frozen wine cubes to sauces when you need it.