The Buy Nothing Challenge
It’s the Buy Nothing Challenge this week. Sound tough? Well, perhaps not as difficult as it seems, considering there’s £860 million worth of food sitting in UK freezers and we can feed ourselves for 11 days just with the food in the freezer – you may be able to eat this week without buying anything else after all!
Not sure about that? Well have a look in your freezer and see for yourself. If you’ve got three drawers filled with frozen foods there must be something that you can you can use. Have a dig around and make a list of everything in there, then take a deep breath and put together as many meals as you can. You can use items you have in your store cupboards as well, but if you need some inspiration head to love food hate waste.com, choose the recipe tab and search by what you want to eat.
Now you know what’s in your freezer take a look in the fridge and cupboards too. Your fridge and store cupboard staples will include various packets, tins and jars, sauces, milk, eggs and some fresh vegetables. If you’re going to get through most (or all) of this week without buying anything else you’ll need a plan of what to eat on which day so nothing goes off and ends up in the bin before you can get round to it.
Using our 7 day meal planner (2030 downloads) or a scrap piece of paper (maybe the back of an envelope) work out who will be eating and what you’re going to have. Anything you think you need simply add to a shopping list but wait until you really need to buy something before you head to the shops.
A house stocked with a lot of store cupboard ingredients will make it easier for you to buy very little this week but it also means you’ll have less room to store your festive foods over the next month so perhaps you need to use up a few things to make a bit of extra room.
Whilst you’re having a browse you may find a few items that have been pushed to the back of the cupboard and may have been in there for a while. Have a look for the BEST BEFORE dates on them, if the date has come and gone don’t worry and rush to throw it away. The Best Before date is NOT a safety date, it’s an advisory date which suggests when the food may not taste at its absolute best. You may not be able to taste a difference though so try it before you decide what to do. Herbs and spices are one of the items you may find in the cupboard, over time the flavour lessens so if you’re going to use these and want to be able to taste them simply add a bit more (and as usual taste to test the flavour).
Have a free lunch
Sometimes you can’t help making too much food, you don’t always remember how much a portion of chicken, rice or broccoli is. Once you’ve put the effort into making a lovely dinner you don’t want to see any extra head into the bin, so this week make a special effort to turn them into lunch for the next day so you don’t need to buy a sandwich. Your leftovers could be a whole cooked meal like lasagne, cottage pie or a curry which you take to work as a whole meal but they could be a few vegetables, mashed potato or bit of mince. These smaller portions can be jazzed up using other items from your freezer and cupboards to make something completely different. Leftover mashed potato can be turned into hash brown, used to make fish cakes or gnocchi. There are lots of recipes out there, our favourite website is lovefoodhatewaste.com, there’s a few recipes from West London residents on our website but you could also look in your cookery books or elsewhere on-line.
Now you’ve worked out there’s plenty to eat it’s time to think about anything else you might need or want.
Borrow and Swap
Perhaps you’ve got a bit of DIY to complete before Christmas, the garden needs something finishing or there’s something you want but don’t have room for because you’ve got a few things you don’t want and never use that are taking up valuable space in the cupboard under the stairs.
Well, since you’re not going to buy it this week why not consider borrowing a useful tool or swapping something to get what you really want.
We all have items in our homes that gets used once a year or sometimes less frequently. What about the juicer you used twice but is now in its box because it was too hard to clean or the ladder you bought to unblock the guttering five years ago but haven’t used again? Someone else could use these and they could have something you want like a long-handled car washing brush for the hose or carpet steam cleaner to remove the stain in the hall– but how do you find them? Well Streetbank, Ecomodo, Freecycle or Freegle can help. On these websites, you can sign up and post what you have to give away or will allow people to borrow for free or a charge so you can earn some money. You can also borrow items from any neighbours or strangers within a distance you choose. Great when you need to borrow extra garden furniture for barbeque or when you need a hedge trimmer to chop back the conifers. There’s no need for every house to have a hedge trimmer or a carpet cleaner – why not share and get to know more of your local community.
We’ve got a long list of borrowing, lending and sharing websites that you can explore.