Every week, the UK throws away tonnes of food – the Guardian reports that the average family throws out twenty four meals a week. Twenty four meals! Now I know some of my readers definitely *aren’t* in that statistic, but we do all sometimes find a rogue bag of salad in the fridge, bread going slightly stale around the edges, yoghurt turning sour, so here are my handy hints and favourite ways to use them up, to help reduce food waste, and your food bills, even just a little bit.


Salad is one of the most wasted foods out there, because it seems to start going bad as soon as you get the bag open and let some air into it. One day it’s a bag of fresh crispy goodness, the next, a sodden mush. But don’t throw it away! Smash it up into a Salad Bag Pesto, or toss it through pasta with a little cheese, or make it into bubble and squeak, or an omelette or frittata, use it in a curry or to add a bit of flavour to a green soup or sausage casserole. The possibilities are endless!


You can use slightly stale bread to make a panzanella, a simple bread and tomato salad. It is also a main ingredient in pappa al pomodoro, a tomato and bread soup made famous by The River Cafe in Hammersmith. This in turn can be made into penne pappa al pomodoro for those of you who like carbs with your carbs! Get creative and use it for making your own stuffing, or a jar of croutons, or spicy breadcrumbs for topping a mac n cheese, lasagne or making your own turkey dinosaurs.


My favourite use for slightly off natural yoghurt is to make it into labneh, a soft and salty yoghurt cheese popular in Middle Eastern cuisine. All you need is a clean teatowel or hanky or if you’re fancy, a muslin square, and you’re good to go. The flavour possibilities are endless; my fave is to mix it with a garlic purée and mixed herbs and make a faux Boursin style cheese, for a fraction of the price. Sour yoghurt also makes excellent flatbread, soda bread and a variety of gorgeous cakes, and can be used as a dip, or even a marinade for cooking.


You know those little potatoes that are sprouting in your fridge or cupboard? Simply pop them in a little soil and await your new crop of potatoes to appear! If you live in a small space, spuds can be grown in a 99p plastic bucket, but if that doesn’t appeal, give them to a friend as a project. This sounds barmy, but I quite like the idea of making those ‘grow your own’ gift sets for friends; a cheap plastic bucket with some holes poked in the bottom and sides for drainage, filled with compost, and a tiny sprouting potato in a bag. You’re gifting them chips for life; that’s true friendship!

I’ll be back tomorrow with Part Two – more savvy tips for reducing food waste and your food bills for #ZeroWasteWeek

Jack Monroe.

Cooking On A Bootstrap’ by Jack Monroe is published by Bluebird at Pan Macmillan. RRP £15.99,available here. Photography by Mike English.

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All text copyright Jack Monroe.

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