As a young trainee many moons ago I had a manager who always checked the restaurant bins at the end of the night. If it was more than half full he would go mental. Waste – he would say – we might just as well put the pound notes straight in the bin.

Have you ever given a financial value to the foods you throw away? I dare you to try – you will be horrified I am sure – not pennies but pounds.

Best before and Use by dates are guidelines. If stored correctly a few days past the dates then no harm should be done and if it looks ok and smells ok it probably is ok. Though remember some items like meat just need to have a wash under cold water.

Fresh food bought regularly and not stock piled is always best or freeze till ready to use. However leftovers are a crime. Measure ingredients carefully and get portions correct too. Try and only make enough for what is required negating waste. When there are leftovers be innovative. Can they be mixed with something to make a pie or added to pasta. Make a soup, or add to stews to bulk them up. One of my favourites is Roast Dinner Pie. All the leftovers go in and the gravy too, topped with a Crisp Pastry Crust.

If you cannot use it up then make it into something and freeze or bottle it.

Tomatoes can be made into a Sauce for Pastas. Basil with Garlic, Pine Nuts and Olive Oil into Pesto. Use stale Bread to make Breadcrumbs and mix with grated Cheese and keep in the freezer to sprinkle on Vegetables, Pasta or Soups to add texture and flavour. Left over vegetables can be added to a risotto, pasta or stir-fried rice. Cream Cheese can be used to make a sauce for Chicken or Fish. With a few Eggs you can make a Quiche or a Frittata. Some Butter and Flour makes Pastry for a Pie Crust or even a Savoury Crumble topping if you leave out the Sugar and maybe add some Grated Cheese, Cayenne Pepper and or Rolled Oats. If really stuck go to Google search or U Tube add the ingredients you have and see what pops up. JUST DON’T THROW IT OUT UNLESS REALLY NECESSARY AND COULD IT GO ON THE COMPOST HEAP. Stock is always useful but can be bulky to reduce to concentrate it and then freeze.

Vegetable Baked Crumble

65g cold butter, diced

160g plain flour

100g Cheddar (or vegetarian alternative), grated

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp very lazy garlic

1 tsp very lazy chilli

1 litre passata or tinned tomatoes

500g mixed vegetables, roughly chopped (courgettes, baby corn, red peppers, spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, green beans, carrots etc)

400g can butter beans in water, drained and rinsed

  1. Rub the Butter and Flour together and stir in the grated Cheese
  2. Lightly fry the Garlic and Chilli together and add the vegetables and passata
  3. Cook for about 5 – 10 minutes to soften and then place on an ovenproof dish
  4. Top with the crumble and Bake in a hot oven until golden brown about 45 minutes