Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Challenge Update!

Well I am happy to report that so far so good! The Glad Fresh Food Challenge has really opened my eyes to how much food I would usually waste and so I have spent the last week really paying attention to what’s in my fridge and pantry and coming up with new innovative ideas of how to prevent wasting my food.

One thing I have to say is that when it comes to saving food, the freezer is your absolute best friend and I don’t know where I would be without one! This past week my freezer has seen the addition of some finely chopped herbs (which I put into little bags and labelled ready for next time I need them) and bread crumbs. I have to admit that when it comes to bread it was high on my list of items being wasted, admittedly not always...but quite a lot. This week I have just taken the time to get out my food processor and whizz up the left over dried out pieces into breadcrumbs and put them into bags and into the freezer. Never again will I buy breadcrumbs….I have plenty right at my fingertips waiting to be used!

Another great use for your freezer is for meat and fish. I am lucky to have a large chest freezer in our garage so it works best for us to buy meat in bulk (it’s cheaper that way). The key to making this work however, is to break things down into portions. Separate chicken breasts, pork chops and steaks into individual portions before you freeze them (in either freezer bags or try Glad Press & Seal for extra protection) and weigh items such as mince, ground beef or chicken thighs into 1lb portions and freeze in bags that are clearly marked with the contents, weight and date. I do this every time I buy meat and it means I waste nothing. If you want to be extra organised (and a bit of a geek like me!) stick a white board on the wall above your freezer and keep track of everything you put in and take out of the freezer so you always know exactly what you have! It works wonders and I love it!

So there you go, week 1 of the #GladFreshFoodChallenge is complete and so far I am on track! 

How would you manage with this challenge? If you waste food why not try it, you will be surprised at how much you usually throw away and aware of how much money you can save if you stop!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Meal Planning Mondays Oct. 6th ~ 12th

Last week I was commenting on how Autumn was definitely here and so I guess it was only a matter of time before somebody got the first cold of the season! I was worried about it being Wee One with him being back at preschool and going to swimming and hockey lessons, but it turns out I am the first victim. Worse still it pretty much appeared out of nowhere and has knocked me for six! Anyway the good news is it's only a cold so I'm sure it will be gone in a couple of days!

This week is SUPER exciting because my Mum, Sister and beautiful nephew are coming to visit! Yay! We are so excited to see them (another reason why I need to get over this cold quickly!!) and are on full-on countdown! But we have a few days before their arrival and so I want to make the most of using up the food we have in the fridge. The Glad Fresh Food Challenge is going well and is really making me conscious of what I can save but I'll write more about that on Wednesday.

So what's on the menu this week? Well it seems like quite a lot of pasta! Saturday night's Cook Club was so much fun and everything worked out well. The theme was 70s food and it was just so much fun. The main course was fondue so I am using the leftover cheese and making a delicious Mac & Cheese for dinner tonight. Tomorrow is leftovers as we have lots! Still it makes for an easy meal so no complaints there. Wednesday night and I couldn't resist a delicious Middle Eastern Bowl which was featured in a supermarket magazine from the Summer. I'll admit it's not very Autumnal but I have all of the ingredients and it looks great. Thursday's meal is my classic Fresh Tomato Pasta - my standard recipe for family arriving after a long journey! It's delicious but not too heavy and we all love it. Friday is our standard hockey night so I am hoping to make something in the Slow Cooker but I'm still undecided as to what at this moment but I'll update it as soon as I have decided. For Saturday I couldn't resist my homemade BBQ'd Pizza and then Sunday we will be with family celebrating Thanksgiving!

So there you have it! Have a great week everyone with family, friends and of course, lots of good food! x

 Monday October 6th ~ 12th

                                  Monday  -       Macaroni & Cheese 
                                  Tuesday -       Leftovers 
                                  Wednesday -  Middle Eastern Bowl
                                  Thursday -      Fresh Tomato Pasta & Salad
                                  Friday -          TBD 
                                  Saturday -      BBQ'd Pizza
                                  Sunday -        Thanksgiving Dinner with Family

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

How much food do you waste?

As I mentioned in my Meal Planning Monday’s post I am so excited to be taking part in the Glad Fresh Food Challenge (#GladFreshFoodChallenge). My reason for initially signing up for it was because unfortunately as much as I hate it I am just as guilty as the next person of wasting food every week. I try not to but inevitably something always ends up in the bin. Usually it’s leftovers but occasionally fruit and vegetables that have been forgotten about and are past the point of being revived are thrown away as well.

As I said though, I am not alone with this issue. It turns out that the average Canadian household spends $5572 per year on groceries.  Unfortunately, on average 13% of that food is thrown out which is the equivalent of $725 worth of food ending up in the garbage every year per family[1]. Worse still however is a recent report from the US that states that 40% of food is wasted every year amounting to a shocking $165 billion a year in waste. Of that total 14% of that waste comes from households throwing away food[2].  And in the UK it is reported that around 15 million tonnes of food is thrown away every year with almost 50% of that coming from UK homes. That is the equivalent of the average household throwing away 6 meals a week![3]

The results are staggering and quite simply unnecessary, so it’s time to stop and make a change. The fact of the matter is that a lot of that food just doesn’t need to be thrown out and so with some careful planning, taking the time for some basic food preparation and having the knowledge of how to use or preserve your food, we can all attempt to cut down on the amount of food we are throwing out every year. If you can do that not only will you prevent so much food from being unnecessarily wasted but at the same time you will also be saving yourself big bucks!

So as of today, October 1st, I am starting the Glad Fresh Food Challenge. My challenge is to waste NOTHING for 2 weeks….not even a single lettuce leaf. After researching the issue of food waste and finding out just how much of a problem it is, I am genuinely excited to accept this challenge. My hope is to share new ideas, tips and tricks of how to save food and stop it from being thrown in the bin. I’ll update my blog in 1 week with my progress but I will be updating my Facebook page every day so stay with me and see how much food I can actually save in 2 weeks and keep good food from going bad! Even better why not join me?! Let the challenge begin to keep good food from going, stop wasting and start saving!

[1] Information provided by Glad

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Cookbook Review ~ The Macaroni's in the Basement by Fran Claro

When I was given the opportunity to review The Macaroni’s in the Basement I couldn't resist. The name alone sold me on this book so I was really excited when it arrived. The book is a collection of stories and recipes from author Fran Claro involving four Italian-American grandmothers who lives in post-WWII Brooklyn revolve around  family, church events and of course food.

The book is divided into Seasons and accompanying each reminiscent story is a traditional Italian recipe courtesy of one or more of the Nonne. As you would expect from 4 opinionated, no nonsense Italian Grandmothers (Maddelana, Giuseppina, Concetta and Aniella) there are many disagreements as to whose recipe is the best but it is accompanied by wit and charm that makes you instantly feel right at home with them and more so eager to pull up a chair in their kitchens and fill your plates with their wonderful food.

Within the book there are 66 recipes and out of those I tested 5.

Tested Recipes:
Fig Pizza (From ‘Covering a Fig Tree’)
Chicken Milanese & Salad (From ‘Fire Hydrant Days’)
Sausage and Peppers & Bread Salad (From ‘Hurry Up…. The Bride’s Getting Out of the Car’)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Meal Planning Mondays Sept. 29th ~ Oct. 5th

Well Autumn/Fall is officially here and with it comes comfort food! I know I mentioned last week that I love the transition from lighter Summery meals to more warming comforting Autumn dishes but I really do! For about 3 days last week it absolutely poured with rain but since we were tucked up nice and warm inside (for the most part!) it was actually really nice to watch. When you have had an amazing Summer there is something very relaxing and enjoyable about watching rain lash against the windows, curled up with a hot cup of tea or even better a big bowl of steaming hot homemade soup. I absolutely love soup so it will start to feature pretty regularly in my meal plans, whether for lunch or dinner, I love how easy it is to make and the variations are endless! It's also great for using ingredients you have in the fridge that otherwise you are unsure what to do with, which brings me to my Meal Plan for this week. I am excited to be taking part in the Glad Fresh Food Challenge which starts on Wednesday October 1st. The challenge is to not waste ANY food at all - nothing, not even a piece of lettuce, for 2 weeks. I'm not going to lie, after just throwing away the remains of our Bread Salad that we had last week I am happy to be accepting this challenge because I really hate to waste food which is something that I know the majority of us do. I'll write more about the challenge on Wednesday and I'll be updating on my Facebook page daily with how I am getting on and will honestly report any food that I need to throw out with the reasons why.... In the meantime though here is this week's meal plan!

Tonight is good old leftovers - my new favourite for Mondays! Tomorrow is once again about using up leftovers but this time I am taking them and transforming then into a new meal. Last night we had Barbecued Pork Chops so I'm going to take the leftover Pork and make my Pork & Udon Noodle Soup. Wednesday (and the start of my challenge) and we have a very busy day so it has to be something quick and easy so I'm making my Leek Carbonara. Thursday isn't so busy so I am going to make Chicken Korma, a favourite in our house. Again I'm using up what I have so that I don't need to buy anything but more so so that I don't waste anything. Friday and it's back to Slow Cooker Friday's and this time I am putting my chilli to the test by making it in the Slow Cooker which I have never done. Here's hoping it goes according to plan but I see no reason why it shouldn't work! Saturday and I'm excited as we are hosting Cook Club. As of now the theme is a surprise but I'll update once it's done. Finally Sunday is our usual undecided meal for now as it really depends on what we decide to do! As for now I'm off to experiment with a new recipe for soup! (I told you soup is going to feature a lot!) I have a beautiful yellow courgette needing used as well as a leek. I could make Nigella's Happiness Soup but I am in the mood for something smooth and creamy... I'll let you know how I get on!

So there you have it! Have a great week everyone with family, friends and of course, lots of good food! x

 Monday September 29th ~ Oct. 5th

                                  Monday  -       Leftovers 
                                  Tuesday -       Pork & Udon Noodle Soup
                                  Wednesday -  Leek Carbonara Tomato & Pea Pasta
                                  Thursday -     Chicken Korma with Basmati Rice
                                  Friday -          Spaghetti Bolognese  
                                  Saturday -      Cook Club 
                                  Sunday -        Barbecue Beef Stew with Fresh Pasta
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