Meaner Greener Me: Reducing food waste (veg box)

In my blog (post holiday kick start) last week I talked about trying to reduce my food waste.  I thought my veg box would be a good place to start.

If you are a regular reader then you’ll know that I started ordering a fortnightly organic veg box when I gave up the supermarket for 28 days. I have become very attached to my delivery and all that it offers (plentiful fresh organic fruit and veg and the health benefits that come with it), so much so that I recently increased the order to weekly.

Every week however, I find myself throwing out some items that have gone off before I’ve got round to using them – often these are the less standard pieces – pak choi, leaves I never quite take the time to identify but also (ever since I found a wee wormy thing on a leaf I was about to eat) lettuce.

Our box is a ‘surprise’ every week, although happily we always get a good selection of staples.  The whole thing costs us £18 which although I’ve never worked it out I think probably compares favourably with the supermarket, especially taking into account that everything we get delivered is organic.

Here’s what we received this week:

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  • 5 bananas
  • 7 apples
  • 3 pears
  • 4 oranges
  • 15 potatoes
  • Mysterious bunch of leaves
  • 6 pieces of ginger
  • Pak choi (5 leaves)
  • 8 carrots
  • 5 onions
  • Courgette
  • Cauliflower
  • cabbage
  • 5 tomatoes
  • 6 mushrooms
  • 2 small lettuces

I tackled the box methodically!

The bananas, apples and pears get eaten raw so they were plonked in the fruit bowl and caused me no further problems. All but one of the oranges were squeezed for juice.

Potatoes are easy but the quantity is more than I can deal with as a side dish, especially as being organic they go off quite fast, so the first thing I did was chop and boil half of them so that I could turn them into potato salad.

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The ‘mysterious leaves’ were bothering me so I sat down with the internet and searched on images of herbs…and got nothing.  My other half – the internet genius – was roped in…and got nothing.  I posted this picture on twitter:

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and within 6 minutes I learned it was mizuna!  Result!  I had a nibble of it and popped it back into the fridge.

The six (SIX – count them!) pieces of ginger were causing me a bit of a headache as none of my regular recipes include it but I searched for concoctions on the web and made the following:

Stir fry – this also allowed me to use the pak choi, some carrot, an onion and courgette so I was delighted!  I made the ‘recipe’ up as I went along, based on a few I’d read.

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Chick pea curry – as well as some ginger, this got rid of another onion or two. I also ‘used up’ some red wine I had, although that didn’t go in the curry… I found the recipe here.

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Carrot and ginger soup – more onions used up plus carrots and the ginger.

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I found the recipe here.  I have to admit by this point I was tiring somewhat of grating ginger which is a bit fiddly, but it does smell lovely so I soldiered on.

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Ginger biscuits – the last of the ginger went into these biscuits.  The recipe is gorgeous but as you can see my lack of experience let me down and the biscuits melted into each other in the oven!

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Separating and putting them in the oven for longer than was required just about salvaged them – here are the imperfect products (they are meant to be round!).

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Next I tackled the cauliflower.  I found a great recipe for cauliflower cheese here and decided to have it with the cabbage and some more of the potatoes.

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I’m not sure if this is what it is usually teamed up with but we are far from culinary snobs and the kids enjoyed it which is all that matters!

We are not orange eaters for the (shameful to admit) reason that they are messy.  I did have an idea for one of them though…

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While I haven’t tacked the subject specifically in the blog yet, I have had one eye on reducing packaging.  Further, since becoming more aware of the evils of some supermarket products, I have been much more interested in what preservatives, additives etc are in processed foods and have therefore tried to reduce the biscuits and cakes we buy, opting instead for home baking.  I use a lovely recipe for Apricot and Orange loaf in this book.

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I know! I know! It’s a kids’ cookery book, but I can’t recommend it highly enough for easy recipes. My kids, on the other hand, can’t recommend it at all as it was a gift that I intercepted before they even got to use it…

Another recipe that came from a book was a delicious Vegetable Crumble by Cranks.photo (58)

As well as using up onions, this recipe will allow you to put in whatever root veg you have and is a great ‘user uper’.

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Finally, I did what I almost always do at the end of the week – I gathered all of the veg I had left over (both from the veg box and from other shopping) and I chopped it all up, chucked it in with some tinned tomatoes and made a tomato sauce which I freeze.

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Every week it tastes different – this week’s was declared ‘fiery’ by my eldest (as a result of left over chilli from the stir-fry).

Conclusions

I have to confess that I do not usually do so much cooking in one week!  My children are very young and although I can get some food preparation done during the day, serious cooking gets done in the evenings, alongside other household chores.  This week therefore there were some nights I was still cooking after 10pm.  While I didn’t mind for the purposes of this blog post – in fact I quite enjoyed it – it isn’t something I can realistically do every week.

I still wasted a few things from the veg box – the mizuna (bad planning, won’t happen again!) and the lettuce.  In my defence it did come with a giant slug on one of the leaves and I just couldn’t face eating it even though the slug was removed. I am going to phone the Farm that deliver my box and ask them to hold off on the lettuce, I can’t cope with any more waste (or slugs!)

Mid-way through the week I was swithering as to whether a weekly box is just too much for me to cope with but I’m going to keep it going. I think I can reduce how much I need to cook if I find more recipes that incorporate a few ingredients.

It was great to try different dishes this week and to deviate from the same old boring things I usually make.  The internet is an amazing resource and has an unending selection of recipes to offer.  I’m going to keep going with reducing my food waste and maybe after a few months my cooking skills will improve as my guilty conscience eases.

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11 thoughts on “Meaner Greener Me: Reducing food waste (veg box)

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  7. We are going to try veg boxes I’m just worried that it will cost more than buying from the supermarket but we will give it a go :)

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