Last week I found out a very shocking statistic; one which rendered me quite speechless and a little sad to be honest. As I think is blatantly obvious from the content of my ramblings here, on social media, and in real life… I really like food and it’s something I care a lot about. I care about what I eat, how it’s made, where it comes from, and I also care about making sure I waste as little of it as possible.
At the launch of Love Food Hate Waste’s latest campaign, Meaty Issues, I was told that a lot of us in the UK are throwing away a lot of food. A heck of a lot… like 300 million burgers worth of beef alone. Oh those poor, poor burgers. Just looking at beef alone, we throw away 34,000 tonnes a year – are you shocked? I suspected the number to be high but not in a million years would I have contemplated it being that high; I shudder to think about the total amount of food we waste.
Meaty Issues aims to highlight the food waste problem we have in the UK, particularly around beef and other meat, and encourage consumers to think carefully about their buying and cooking habits. All this waste is also, quite obviously, costing us a fair bit of money. Research done by Love Food Hate Waste estimates that this waste is worth around £260 million annually… definitely a figure which should be taken seriously, which is why they have teamed up with Adam Henson, well known farmer and presenter on Countryfile, to help spread the word.
The campaign was launched at Smiths of Smithfields, a fitting location given that Smithfields is the UK’s largest and oldest wholesale meat market. We were treated to a very interesting butchery demonstration followed by a rather delicious lunch featuring the meat of the moment – beef! But this wasn’t your usual flashy beef meal where you might expect the finest cuts being showed off, instead we talked about how to utilise some less popular cuts to ensure that we use as much of the animal as possible – something which will benefit both farmers and consumers, as well as our waste problem.
As we were learning about the various parts of the cow – the priciest parts, the tenderest parts, the most flavoursome parts, we sampled a few delicious ways of cooking with some of the cheaper, less used parts. I was really impressed with the way they were used in the ravioli, ragu with arancini, and especially the Thai-style salad – a dish which I think most people would only use a lean steak for. The main of slow cooked ‘leg of mutton’ which confusingly, is still beef, was also a hearty and worthy alternative to the usual roast cuts.
I can’t deny that I do love a top quality steak; done rare and served with a glistening jus, it’s one of my favourite things to eat. However, I also love experimenting with the cheaper cuts of beef and exploring ways of using up leftovers of other meats to ensure we don’t waste food unnecessarily. I’m a firm believer that small changes in our households can lead to big changes across the industry so I thought I’d share some of my tips and tricks…
Some Simple Ways to Reduce Your Food Waste
- Plan your meals for the week: we usually eat out 2-3 times a week but on the other nights we plan what we’re cooking and do one shop at the start of the week. This helps us get the right portions or think about which items we might need to ‘double duty’, for example a standard pack of chicken thighs might be used for a stir fry one night and then enchiladas another.
- Try cooking with cheaper cuts such as beef shin, beef cheek, or oxtail: these cuts are affordable, perfect for slow cooking, and give your stews and ragus a fantastic flavour.
- Make the most of your leftovers: we do a fridge raid and transform small amounts of leftover meat and vegetables into great dishes such as pies, frittatas, burritos, or quiche.
- Blitz your bread: all of our stale bread gets toasted, blitzed into breadcrumbs and popped into the freezer ready to be used for stuffing, crumble, crumbed chicken or fish.
- Utilise your freezer: sometimes it’s more cost effective to buy a larger portion of meat so we will split it accordingly, wrap it well and label, then pop it in the freezer straight away – just make sure you keep an eye on what you’ve got in there!
For more tips and recipe ideas, check out the Meaty Issues campaign page here.
Have you got some tricks for reducing food waste in your household? Tell me!
Thanks to Love Food Hate Waste for inviting me to the launch of their Meaty Issues campaign, but as always, all opinions are mine alone.