Time for BBQ bliss
Why not celebrate the sun peeking out from behind the clouds, the Olympics and British Food Fortnight with something cold to drink, crunchy salads and food cooked over hot coals!
We’re a barbeque nation with 60% of homes owning a barbeque, in fact the number of family barbeques we have during the summer has risen sharply from around two a decade ago to more than nine barbeques now. We will now spend around £35 on food and drink for a barbeque – that’s a whopping £315 a year!
It’s not easy to knowing how much food to prepare and cook for a crowd. You try to only buy what buy what you need and making the most of any leftover food. But it’s easy to save pounds with a bit of planning and a few simple actions.
Try some of our tips to help you out…
It’s all about the preparation
Party portions! Whether it’s just two of you or a bigger gathering plan your menu and portions with this helpful interactive guide from Love Food Hate Waste, http://england.lovefoodhatewaste.com/portions/party to avoid having too much food.
Make a list! As you plan what you’re going to make or buy, remember to have a look through your cupboards. It’s surprising how many tasty dishes can be made from ingredients we already have in our cupboards and fridges. In fact, every day we throw away food that is perfect for summer al fresco dining: including around 5 million potatoes, nearly 2 million tomatoes, and 2.3 million slices of ham! Then, make a list before making a shopping – you might just save pounds on the cost of food, leaving more money for something else…
Prepare your fridge freezer. Check your fridge is colder than five degrees, any warmer and your food will go off before the use by date. Dig out your cool bag and put ice packs in the freezer then freeze fruit (whole grapes or raspberries for example), wine and beer in ice cube trays so you can use them as ice cubes on barbeque day. Slice lemons in advance and store in an airtight container in the freezer for a refreshing addition to cold drinks.
Your party menu
- Celebrate Love British Food 2012 by looking out for British sausages, steak and chicken. There are 400 varieties of British sausage so why not give Oxford, Welsh, Suffolk or Gloucester sausages a try.
- Add a bit of fish to your menu. If you’ve got leftover pieces of fish or bought ones specially, all you need to do is wrap it in foil and cook on the barbeque.
- If you have any Mediterranean vegetables to use up, such as courgettes, aubergines and peppers, brush them with olive oil and char grill until soft or why not try a vegetable kebab, push chunks of veg on to the stick and put it on the barbeque.
- To go with your burgers, steaks and sausages use store-cupboard essentials like dried noodles. Make delicious cold oriental salads when mixed with chopped leftover veg like baby corn and sugar snap peas.
- Vegetables from your salad drawer could also be chopped up into little crudités for dunking into hummus or your favourite dip.
- For dessert prepare ice-lollies by freezing yoghurt and fruit juice (you can mix several different flavours) in ice-lolly moulds.
On the day
Getting the storage right. Store the food in the fridge or freezer for as long as you can. Salad should always go in the fridge, bread in the bread bin or freezer (never the fridge) and fruit and veg (except bananas, whole pineapple, potatoes and onions) should be kept in the fridge. Keep things like sliced meats and cheese in an air-tight container in the fridge once opened
Keeping everything cool. Hopefully the weather will be sunny and warm, but even if it’s a bit overcast you’ll still need to think about keeping some foods and most drinks cold.
- Use cool boxes or bags with ice packs in to keep food in plastic containers cold.
- Put cold water and ice in garden trugs, paddling pools or plastic boxes then add whatever you need to keep cool.
Party presentation! If you’ve not got enough plates or bowls, don’t worry – get creative! Cut the top off plastic bottles, wash them out and use those for the breadsticks, use the plastic trays that mushrooms or fruit comes in to hold tomatoes, celery sticks or the little sausages. They won’t break if dropped and you can still simply recycle afterwards. You could also use the plastic trays to marinade your meat. Once the food is out of the fridge cover it using clean t-towels, net curtains, kitchen roll or specially bought food covers to keep the flies away.
Using up the leftovers
Another meat feast
- If you have leftover cooked meat, wrap it well and keep it in the fridge – it will be good to use for up to 2 days.
- Add a dollop of leftover dip to a cold burger for lunch the next day.
- Cold sausages make tasty lunch box treats or can be frozen to eat later in a picnic.
- Add any leftover sausages to an omelette or Spanish tortilla; or why not try Quick Pizza Tortilla Chips.
- Put leftover salad in the fridge and if it’s looking tired and wilted put it in a bowl of water with a couple of ice-cubes to get it nice and crisp again.
- A dollop or two of coleslaw and hummus make delicious additions to salads.
- Leftover potatoes make a tasty potato salad when tossed with sliced red or spring onions and mayonnaise.
- If you have a salad covered in dressing use a blender or food processor to make a cold soup. Add as much dressing as you’d like to this salad soup.
- Bread rolls that have gone a bit stale will be delicious toasted. Or make them into breadcrumbs and freeze in a freezer bag to use later for making stuffings, bread sauce or mix with grated cheese for a gratin topping.
If the British summer lets you down, put unused barbeque food in the freezer for another time.
Don’t forget to be safe this summer. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has some key safety advice we should all follow:
- Foods with a ‘use by’ date or ‘keep refrigerated’ on the label should be kept cold to stop harmful germs growing.
- Keep food out of the fridge for the shortest time possible and if you’re putting food out for a party, try not to leave it out for more than two hours.
- When you’re cooking on the barbecue remember to keep raw and ready-to-eat/cooked foods separate to stop harmful germs spreading.
- Don’t add marinade to cooked food if it’s already been used with raw meat.
- If you’re reheating leftovers, cook it until it’s piping hot all the way through.
- To extend the life of food beyond its ‘use by’ date, freeze it before the date and defrost and use within 24 hours.
For more safety advice check out the barbeque guidance from the NHS.