Waste not, want not!
Now feeling significant side effects of a season full of excessive eating and considerable over-indulgence, our Nation’s consumer habits has provoked me to think about personal attitudes towards food consumption.
I have always loved food, however, my affectionate relationship with everything edible, I believe, is in fact a by product of hating seeing food go to waste! With ancestral Yorkshire roots, and introduced to cooking by my two grandmothers from a rationed bygone era, to see food left to wilt, wither and decay, is a concept I find very hard.
When it comes to food consumption, we are widely dictated by ‘best before’ and ‘used by’ dates brandishing many products. Understandably, there are legal requirements enforced on large retailers and producers which they undoubtedly have to comply to, but it has been estimated more than half of the food we resign to the rubbish bin is actually perfectly edible (Love Food, Hate Waste).
In a year, it is believed that we waste nearly £500 worth of food, throwing away 7 million tonnes of food and drink every 12 months solely here in the UK. By not only changing our opinion of ‘gone off’ foods, but also becoming super savvy shoppers, not only can we as consumers reduce our weekly food bill, directly reducing food waste, but support our local retailers in the meantime.
The convenience of buying a week’s worth of food in one retailer is something attractive to us all, but something that logistically is not ideal when it comes to fresh produce – buying fresh ingredients in small quantities, when and if needed is the perfect way to cut back. Creating a weekly menu is also a fantastic way to ensure nothing goes to waste.
However careful we might be with ensuring our food does not reach it’s ‘used by’ date, we have all at some point forgotten that lovely crusty loaf in the bread bin, or wilting veggies in the vegetable rack. However, before promptly reaching for the bin, give it a second thought. Living in a local shop, 80% of my prepared meals include less than desirable ingredients past their ‘used by’ date or looking a little limp as they have failed to sell. Once combined in a casserole, stirred into a soup, or dedicated to a dessert, these ingredients are back to their best!
With this in mind, and a bread bin full of slightly stale bread, I have created this delicious winter warmer – a savoury twist on a British classic. My savoury bread and butter pudding is a fantastic way for using up your leftover loaf, and is incredibly simple. My recipe also helped me to find a use for my slightly mature soft blue cheese, a couple of spare mushrooms, and a limp leek – the flexible nature of this recipe means you can tailor your pudding to what ever you have floating in the fridge!
Check out Love Food, Hate Waste website for more great recipe ideas!
- 1 Loaf of bread (Ideally a slightly stale crusty white)
- 3 Large eggs
- 400ml Milk
- 2 Leeks
- 1 White onion
- 1 Clove of garlic
- Splash of oil
- 100g Mushrooms
- 200g Serrano ham
- 200g Soft blue cheese
- Salt and pepper
- In a splash of oil, sauté roughly chopped onion and leeks with a clove of crushed garlic. Once the onion and leeks have slightly coloured and softened, set aside.
- In the meantime, roughly cut up the bread into generous chucks. Place half the bread into the bottom of a large oven-proof dish and top with the sautéed onions. Distribute the Serrano ham evenly around the dish, as well as the cheese and mushrooms, before seasoning and layering on the remaining bread.
- In a separate jug, whisk together the eggs and milk, and pour over the layered ingredients. Allow the liquid to soak into the bread for about 30 minutes, before placing in a preheated oven at 180 degrees (Gas 4/5). Cook for around 25 minutes, ensuring it does not brown too quickly on top – if needs be, cover with a little foil.
- Remove from the oven when the bread is golden and crispy, and there is no visible liquid. Serve immediately whilst still piping hot.