Save money by eating leftovers

Food waste comes under the spotlight once again as Norwich City Council launches a food collection service. EMMA HARROWING finds out how you can save money on your food bill and reduce the amount of waste you send to landfill.

Reusing leftover food has never been so chic.

It could be down to our renewed love for cooking encouraged by television shows such as The Great British Bake Off or Celebrity Masterchef, but there is nothing quite like a bowl full of bubble and squeak made from the unwanted vegetables from Sunday's roast followed by apple crumble and custard made from cooking apples that are slightly past their best before date to keep the autumn blues away.

Meals created out of the bits and pieces left over from dinner the night before cost next to nothing to make, cutting down the cost of your food bill. They also make you feel that warm fuzzy glow of satisfaction as you realise that you are also lowering your carbon footprint.

Thrown away food accumulates into about 8.3m tonnes of food waste a year and most of this 'waste' could have been eaten.

Creating delicious meals out of your leftovers can save you up to �50 a month on your food bill, so it's really worth taking a leaf out of your grandmother's cookbook and making sure that you use up every scrap of food you can.

Alex Bone from the Love Food Hate Waste Campaign in Norfolk also believes that there are other ways that you can reduce the amount of food that is thrown away.

Most Read

Alex says: 'Planning your shopping, using your freezer and making use of leftovers are all brilliant ways of reducing the amount of food that is thrown away; and it saves you money.

'The Love Food Hate Waste campaign can show you how to use up leftovers in hundreds of delicious recipes, as well as give advice on storing food, portion sizing and the information on date labels.'

Safety over reheating food can sometimes put people off reusing leftover food.

Is it safe to reheat meat or fish? And can you really get food poisoning by reheating rice?

The Love Food Hate Waste Campaign website has this advice: 'It's best to serve rice when it has just been cooked. If that isn't possible, cool the rice as quickly as possible (ideally within one hour) and keep it in the fridge for no more than one day until reheating.

'Never leave cooked rice to cool on its own – always chill it quickly, for example, under running cold water. If cooked rice has been chilled or frozen ensure that it is thoroughly reheated and is piping hot throughout. Never keep rice chilled for longer than one day or frozen for longer than one month.

'Once cooked rice has been re-heated, throw away any leftovers.

'Never re-heat rice more than once.'

There are some things that you cannot reuse, such as vegetable peelings, teabags, chicken bones and similar food waste, which needs to be thrown away. This is why some councils including Norwich City Council and Broadland District Council are introducing a food collection service.

More than 50,000 properties in the city will soon be given a small bin for food waste that will be collected from the kerbside in the same way as our blue and black bins.

It is hoped that this venture will make people think about the amount of food they are wasting.

'People living in Norwich have really taken up the challenge of reducing their waste over the last couple of years.

'This new food waste collection service will help them do that little bit more, easily from home,' says Katie Bayliss from Norwich City Council.

'While composting the food waste is obviously much better than sending it to landfill, what we really hope the scheme will do is make people think more about what they are buying in the first place, so they are putting less into the caddies to be collected.'

So where will your kitchen scraps go?

Bob Wade from Broadland District Council explains: 'For those households where your council provides a kerbside collection you can put all your kitchen scraps, peelings, tea bags, bones and other food waste out for collection.

'You still have the choice to compost but whatever you do to reduce waste you will still have unavoidable food waste that can be collected and composted.

'This avoids all the environmental problems caused by landfill, such as the release of greenhouse gases such as methane and other pollution that has to be managed for decades.

'Each tonne of food waste composted is estimated to avoid about half a tonne of carbon dioxide emissions from landfill.

'The food waste is sent to a licensed site where it is composted under controlled conditions.

'The compost can then be used for agriculture, returning nutrients to good use instead of rotting away in a landfill site.'

However, both councils hope that the scheme will encourage households to use up leftover food in other meals.

Katie says: 'Simple things like making a list before you go shopping, double checking what you've already got in the cupboard or freezer so you don't buy another lot, and getting to grips with use by dates, will really help to slim bins across Norwich – as well as saving pounds on your shopping bill.'