As the supermarket shelves empty due to panic stockpiling, now is not a bad time to think about how you buy, use and dispose of food. In the current circumstances, buying what you don't need/more than you need may be depriving someone else who does actually need it. My mother, for example, could not find bread nor eggs, forcing her to repeatedly venture to the supermarkets in search of them, putting herself at risk (she is elderly and has a heart condition, so is in the top 1% of people at risk of dying from COVID-19).
The people who can help her with her shopping either do not have the transport to do so or, by the time they finish work and can go to the shops, the shelves are empty. Online delivery is not an option as all the slots here have been booked into next month by people stockpiling. She is not the worst off. She is still mobile. Some people are not. Some people have even more serious conditions that put them at even more risk. Many supermarkets here in the UK have started rationing certain products and/or introducing shopping slots for the elderly and disabled, but still the shelves are empty of certain necessities.
Please people, stop stockpiling and have a thought for others!
In addition, did you know that around one third of the food produced around the world goes to waste? Did you know that this waste accounts for something like 8-10% of the world's greenhouse gases, so is seriously damaging our environment and our future?
Apart from buying less, I have a few suggestions:
- Keep an eye on what you have in your fridge and kitchen and try to use it before it goes off. There are eco friendly devices that can help keep vegetables etc. fresher for longer and there are Apps that help you to plan recipes around what you already have.
- For those of you in areas where supermarkets, local convenience stores, restaurants, cafes, bakeries etc. etc. are still operating, there may be Apps that allow you to buy unsold food that is still fresh, but would otherwise be thrown away, at discounted prices. You save money, you help to save the environment, and you might just be helping to save businesses that are really struggling to survive right now. It is better for them to get something, rather than nothing, for unsold food. Apps in the UK (might be available elsewhere, I'm not sure), include Karma and Too Good to Go.
- Go through your freezer and larder. Is there stuff lurking in there that you could use for your next meal? Get creative with recipes so you don't automatically have to go and buy more food. Think about what you could donate to a food bank or similar charity. There are also Apps where you can give unwanted food to your neighbours.
- Talking of the freezer, it's very easy to freeze bread, fruit and all sorts of things before they go off so they can be consumed later. Do be mindful though of food safety and don't refreeze stuff that it's not safe to do.
- If you have time on your hands, which many of us do, or are looking for ways to keep young ones occupied, think about using some of your foodstuffs to make jams, chutneys etc. Over ripe bananas are perfect for making banana cake/bread and I recently made up a few jars of chutney from courgettes and tomatoes I knew I wouldn't get through. If you put them in nice jars and label them, these can make great homemade gifts.
- Is bread scarce at your supermarket? Think about baking your own, especially if you have that "unwanted gift" of a breadmaker sitting around. I bet if you baked it yourself, you would be more reluctant to throw it away!
- Inevitably, you will have some scraps to throw away, such as peelings, egg shells, used tea bags and coffee grounds. If your local council has a food waste collection scheme, please use it. If you have a garden, try composting (could save you money too, as well as reducing the environmentally damaging peat based compost you might be buying).
I am slowing working through my cupboards and freezer. I am actually astounded by how often I think, "I have nothing to eat.. better pop to the shops," when actually I have lots of food. Previous guests leave so much behind. Don't throw it away! Think of how you might use it, or give it to someone who will.
By the way, a friend told me yesterday that she made fritters from tinned sweetcorn and leftover pancake mix. She said they looked horrible, but tasted amazing!
Innovative recipe ideas for using up store cupboard stuff or other suggestions for reducing food waste would be appreciated
@Huma0 , I made fritters last night as well.
Mine were with a batter that included ginger, garlic, paprika, one third of a packet of salt reduced French onion soup, and Thai seasoning, with some chilli. In the chopper I finely cut zucchini, carrot and mushroom: zapped in the microwave. Added what I had left of a bbq chicken, finely diced mixed in and Cooke din the frypan = voila!
Served with sweet chilli sauce.
They would have been even better with some fresh Vietnamese mint added.
Great way to use leftovers, or make and freeze for another day!.
@Huma0 Great topic. Years ago when I lived in Canada, a friend was teaching an environmental studies class in junior high school. He did a project with the kids re garbage and recycling. He made it fun for them- they donned hazmat suits, which they had decorated, then went into all the classrooms and "stole" the garbage cans. They then separated the garbage into paper products, metal, plastic, ad food waste and weighed it. 80% of the garbage by weight was "edible food"- entire apples, oranges, entire untouched sandwiches. Moms had packed lunches for their kids, which the kids simply tossed in the garbage can, probably going to the corner store for chips and cokes instead. That kind of food waste borders on criminal.
@Sarah977 80%! Really, that’s shocking. So here the schools are closed except to the kids of key workers and children considered the most vulnerable. However, it’s certainly something to think about in the future.
The exercise you describe goes some way to educating kids about this stuff and I wish more schools did this. When I was at school, we weren’t allowed off the premises at lunch time until we were 16 and, even then, were not allowed to eat in the street and, yes, they did keep track of us! I know you things have changed. I see the the local school kids buying crisps and sweets or greasy take away at lunch time.
I wonder what other ways we can encourage kids not to throw away those packed lunches.
@Huma0 I have been composting so long I am now totally grossed out by the idea of actual food in the garbage bin in my house! Of course sometimes I get lazy and put compostable stuff in the trash on the night of pick up but having apple cores and wilted lettuce in the kitchen bin seems totally disgusting to me. Our last guests recycling nothing, and in fact, their trash was so gross w/food particles that I only picked up the recycling that was right on top, and that means it was really, really bad.
The issue with people stockpiling stuff is that when you do go to the grocery store and there is an hour line where 'social distancing' is then impossible or no meat on the shelf, this feeds the idea that you do need to stockpile. So, it is a self re-enforcing thing, I didn't begin to worry until I saw all the totally empty grocery shelves in NYC.
I don't know if they are doing it in London, but here several stores have started having a one hour, first thing in the morning time for people over 60 to shop. That enables them presumably to shop with the stores are well stocked and limits their exposure to others, limits the lines, etc. Not all grocery stores here are doing it but some are.
@Mark116 Yes they are doing that one hour slot thing at some supermarkets here but I am not sure if it’s working that well yet. Fingers crossed it will start to.
Yes, I do get that it’s natural instinct to stockpile in these circumstances, but I feel people are really going overboard and buying more than they can use and then maybe throwing a lot of it away. One time when my mum tried to find bread in the supermarket, the guy in front of her had six loaves in his trolley. Who knows, maybe he needed all of them, but he certainly wasn’t thinking about the breadless granny behind him!
Good to hear about your home composting. I tried for years and never quite got the hang of it, so I am glad I can give food scraps to the local composting scheme. I may have just got an ineffective composter though. Bought my mum a very pricey one (yes, that is actually what she requested for her birthday) and it works like a dream. It may help that her garden is like a Mediterranean micro climate, while mine is rather shady.
Oh and @Mark116 yes, getting some guests to recycle or separate waste can be a nightmare. A lot of people think it’s an unreasonable thing to ask even if it is already mentioned on my listing. I normally have to get the rubber gloves out and get stuck into the grossness to sort it out. At least now with no guests that’s one less thing to worry about.
Some great ideas, @Huma0 . I was thinking about how my late mother would respond to our concerns now. She was of the greatest generation that lived though the world depression and WWII. Her stories included how people became more self-sufficient, helped each other and got used to the rationing of goods. Perhaps remembering the stories will help trigger solutions and reduce the panic causing stockpiling.
One big difference is we are faced with the suddeness of how quickly we have to react. On the other hand we have a greater ability to connect with each other and share how to deal. Your post is an example.
Here's my thought: Invent a new soup. Produce that is getting less inviting can be incorporated into a soup. Bananas that are going soft are usually at the peak of sweetness and are good to freeze for later addition to a smoothie. Or make doggie ice cream using bananas, yogurt and peanut butter.
I throw bananas that have gotten past their prime in the freezer right in their casings. No need to scoop them out into another container first. The peel keeps them from becoming freezer burned and they can last in the freezer for quite a long time. Just be sure to place them on a plate or something when you take them out to thaw for something like banana bread as they will get very moist and you'll end up with banana juice all over the place otherwise.
@Jody79 Ah okay.
So now I'm not sure whether to peel or not peel the bananas before freezing as getting differing advice. Certainly not the biggest dilmemna I wil face today!
I chucked them in with the peel on, so will try next time to peel them first and see which works best.
@Mark116 My Canadian friends said the same thing is being done there, at least in my former town. Grocery stores are opeing from 7-9 AM exclusively for seniors to get their shopping done. A great many seniors (although not me) tend to wake up before dawn anyway, so shopping then isn't a real hardship.
Ditto on the compost issue- been composting for the last 40 years, and it disgusts and confounds me to see garbage bags full of compostable material. My guests have almost all been really environmentally aware- they'll often ask me if I have a compost pail and if I have a recycle box before I even get around to initiating that conversation.
I have a large compost bin in my garden, divided into 2 sections, so when one side is full, it can be left to cook down while I start filling the other side. Then I have a screen that fits on top on my wheelbarrow, and I screen the finished compost and end up with wheelbarrows full of fluffy, humusy soil. While my neighbors, who don't bother with a compost bin go to the nursery and buy bagsful of potting mix and fertilizers.
@Linda108 I have put some over ripe bananas in the freezer to use for smoothies but wasn’t sure how it would turn out. Will definitely give it a go now. Good to keep up those vitamins these days too!. Soup is another good suggestion that is also great for freezing.
Yes, your mother was from that generation that that learnt how to make do and mend - the total opposite of what we have now. Although sustainability is one of the most popular buzzwords, from what I have seen having lots of young guests in and out of my house, most of them don’t think about it for a second. They might talk the talk, but they don’t walk the walk.
i am not saying that everyone will now become less wasteful because of this pandemic. It would be naive to think that. But maybe it will make some people think twice when, for a time, they don’t have immediate access to everything they want and think they need.
@Linda108 Doggie ice cream- you mean to feed to the dog? Mine might eat the yoghurt and peanut butter, but the banana? Never. Only fruit or veggie she'll eat is avocado. I can put leftover beef stew in her bowl and she'll lick the potatoes and carrots clean and leave them sitting in her bowl, even though they've been cooking in meat juice for hours :-))