Changing food waste

waste

As we see the 5p plastic bag charge come into force in England this month we are more and more becoming aware of the countries problem of waste, specifically food waste!

We throw away roughly 7 million tonnes of food and drink from our homes every year costing £12.5billion a year, the most common items being fruit and veg, bakery items, dairy and meat. This costs the average household £470 a year, think about what you and your housemates could do with that money! However other than the cost to our pockets it also has a big impact on the environment, so much so that if every person did not throw away the food that could be eaten it would be equivalent to taking 1 in 4 cars off of the road; so be sure to follow these few steps to cut food waste and save money whilst you’re at it.

Get friendly with your freezer:
This may sound silly to the most of you but you’ll be shocked by how many people end up throwing away foods that the shelf life of could have been massively increased just by popping in the freezer. Almost all foods can be stored in the freezer, the best ones being meats and bakery items such as bread; this massively increases its shelf life leading to being used at any other opportunity. As a student the best thing to do would be freeze meat in portions that you are going to use it in, as when you get it out to defrost you’ll have to defrost it all if it’s still in one portion, this can lead to just as much waste before. Bread is also just as easy to freeze, it defrosts in a matter of minutes ready to be used, or it can be toasted directly from frozen!

Store cupboard ingredients:
Make sure you know your cupboard ingredients, don’t buy new tins and other items with long shelf life if you already have them in, let alone it being a waste of money you will end up wasting the items that are getting pushed to the back! Other than these make sure you use your store cupboard to the best of your ability such as using up spare fresh ingredients by bulking out with store cupboard ingredients like rice or pasta.

Best before or use by:
Now this one is very important, some people may not realise the difference between these two simple packaging terms but it may save you a lot of money in the long term! When a food item has a use by date that means it can be harmful to the consumer if they eat this item after this date. However if a food item has a best before date then it just means that it can be consumed after this date (as long as it’s not mouldy) it just might not be at the best it could be. You will find use by dates on items on foods like meats and dairy but will find best before dates on items such as fruit and veg, so do not be afraid to consume these items a few days after their best before date!

Carb portion control:
This is a big tip for people that tend to overestimate on their pasta or rice portions, other than this possible leading to weight gain, this tends to cause a lot of waste due to people not eating the full meal. The two best ways to combat this are either measuring out your portions in order to only cook as much as you will eat, or if you do over estimate then don’t dish out the full meal and save it for the next day and carbs like pasta and rice are lovely in salads for lunch.

Plan your shop:
This may sound obvious but when you go to the shop don’t buy extra of items just because they are on offer, this may result in you throwing them away eventually. So make sure you only buy exactly what you will need.

What to do when the waste cannot be eaten:
There is plenty of food waste or packaging waste that cannot be eaten such as bones and egg shells. However these items can be recycled so make sure that this is what happens as this will save money and the environment. There are many different ways you can recycle these goods such as composting or through recycling centres.

How to use seasonal vegetables to your advantage part 1: autumn

New Picture (5)

With the type of supermarkets we shop in nowadays we don’t tend to worry about whether we are eating seasonal fruit and vegetables; freezing and refrigerating have changed the food we have access to all year round. However you may not always realise it but certain fruit and veg may be cheaper at certain times of year when they are in season, especially in supermarkets such as ALDI which have a super 6 offers every week, so it’s worth knowing which types of fruit and veg are in season in different months.

Part 1 of this blog series is autumn, my favourite season! I love the nights drawing in closer and cosy nights in as it starts to get a bit colder and the beginning of frosty mornings with leaves on the ground; I never have been one for hot summers! However other than the typical colours and weather that you see, the season has beautiful foods not available at any other time of year. In this blog I have given you different ideas on how to use certain foods in season right now, with none of these recipes costing a bomb, all perfectly within reach of a student!

Apple: now obviously you can’t have apples and not think of apple pie or apple crumble; the standard comfort food! Many people believe you have to use cooking apples for these well loved desserts however this is just a myth, I use any old apple I have lying about and it’s just as nice for someone like me who isn’t the biggest fan of sharp tasting apples. To make a crumble all you need is apples, sugar, butter, flour and oats, all fairly cheap ingredients. I use oats in the crumble topping firstly to pad out the topping and also it creates a lovely crunch when cooked; this goes lovely with warm custard or runny cream!

Butternut squash: this vegetable is fairly new to me, for years I have seen them in the supermarkets and never picked one up to try it out, then one day someone told me about butternut squash soup and now I’m converted! Butternut squash soup is one of the most comforting and warming foods I can eat by the bucket full in autumn and winter. However this vegetable is also wonderful roasted with cracked black pepper and put into various different vegetarian meals such as curry, lasagne or spaghetti Bolognese.

Cabbage: this vegetable tends to divide the crowd but I love it in a variety of different ways! Personally I prefer cooked cabbage with roast dinner on a Sunday, boiled until only just cooked then mixed with cracked black pepper and a tiny bit of sea salt. However you don’t have to eat cabbage cooked, chopped roughly cabbage goes really well in a salad or homemade coleslaw!

Pear: this is a wonderful fruit which can be eaten in a variety of ways, my personal preference is poached which makes a wonderful dessert! However pear can also be put into pies or crumbles and goes wonderfully with plum which is also in season right now!

Sweetcorn: this is such a handy little vegetable which I put into lots of different meals giving me more ways to get my 5 a day! Fresh sweetcorn is lovely as a side for different meals such as bbq chicken or tuna pasta, however it can also be mixed with various things such as peas, or in sauces so that its hidden and gives you a healthy addition!

I hope this has given you an insight into different foods that are in season in autumn; however there are lots more fruit and veg which have not been mentioned here, so go explore and save some money whilst you’re doing it!

The best things to do when you start university as a fresher

UniversitySometimes you might wonder what the best things to do are in the week before your lectures start, well here are a few things I would consider as important:

  • Join a sports club or society; this is a wonderful way to meet different people that aren’t in your living halls or on your course; likewise the likely hood is that they are similar people to you if they have an interest in the same hobby.
  • Find out what your uni can offer. My uni gives free off peak gym membership for all students for the local gym in the city. This is a wonderful way to keep busy and have things to do, as well as it being good exercise for the mind and for the body. However if a gym is not your thing then your university may offer other things such as discounted sports team tickets like football, or just being a student gives you the opportunity for discount cards such as NUS and UNIDAYS.
  • One of the most important things to do is to get to know where your local shops are, don’t get caught out with doing big shops in your local ‘Sainsbury’s local’ or ‘Tesco metro’ these smaller shops tend to put their prices up, or only offer the most expensive brands just because of their close convenience. Walk that little bit further and you will end up saving a good amount of money; another really good habit to get into is shopping for the best deals, don’t always go to a specific one because for example ALDI offers its ‘super six’ which might mean you can choose your fruit and veg for the week around this offer, but you may want to get other items from another shop such as Tesco.
  • Make sure you’re planned for your first week, if you’re starting soon you should have found out by now when your induction week is and when your first day of lectures will be. Most people will have gone for an open day or an applicant day before the start of uni, however if you haven’t then don’t worry you aren’t at a disadvantage. Google maps and street view are a life saver when you’re trying to find a specific building, go on a virtual tour and on your first day you’ll know exactly where you are going!
  • Another good thing to do before you arrive at uni is to look on your university’s official social media accounts; around this time of the year there will be lots of nervous freshers looking for their flatmates or other people on their course. This is a really good tool to use, you don’t have to post every day but if you keep your eye out you might find some people to help you during your first few days, I met some of my course mates outside of halls and we all walked to our first lecture together!
  • A really useful tip is to collect the best equipment for starting uni, I’m sure your family will be going round the shops and looking out for the best deals to buy you with all the stuff you need for uni, however there are some things you may find really useful like lunch boxes and flasks, these also help to save lots of money!
  • Make sure you have the equipment for your course, certain degrees may need specific equipment for day to day use, and you should have been told about these before you arrive. However unless you are told you HAVE to buy certain books then refrain until you have started your course. Of course it is useful to do background reading constantly, however it is not essential to buy such books straight away. University libraries are really useful and will have lots of different books for your use, if you find you are getting one specific book out constantly then of course by all means buy that book looking for the best online deals to save some money.
  • A really good tip is to make an effort with the people you hit it off with straight away. These people can develop into friends so making an effort in terms of arranging nights out or games/movie nights will show these people you want to get to know them and the effort won’t go unnoticed. But remember these nights you arrange don’t have to involve spending money or buying alcohol, there is plenty of cheap or free things to do.
  • Get to know your university’s facilities, for example most unis have a wellbeing centre, advice centre or a careers department. These are really useful facilities and are there to be used especially for first year students who may have the most questions of all, so make sure you investigate where these are and how to access them if and when you need them.
  • Set up a student bank account, or move your current account across. This is a free service offered by all banks and they all offer different incentives to go with them, so look for the best option for you. The main drawing point for a student account is the fact they offer interest free overdrafts. It’s never advisable to ever use an overdraft however to have one there in case of emergency or in case of a mix up with your student loan is useful, but remember they need paying back sooner rather than later, otherwise the bank will claim the whole amount back at any time that suits them not you!
  • Lastly don’t worry! University will seem strange and weird when your first there, it’s a big step and you will have never have done anything like it, however you will get used to it and as soon as you’re settled in and feel comfortable with your area you will soon enjoy yourself.

Revision snacking

buscuit-jar

Whether you have already hit assessment time or it’s just a matter of weeks away, you will all be feeling the stress and wondering why did you leave all this work to the last minute, you definitely won’t do it next year right? Well whether we like it or not we are going to snack when the revision and work has started so why don’t we learn to snack on the right things rather than eating that whole bag of 40p sweets in one go, we’ve all been there!

Stress is a key trigger for reaching for those snacks, cortisol, a stress hormone, blocks the release of other hormones meaning we crave high fat and high sugar foods giving us far more fuel than we need for just sitting at our desks. Other than this, most of us associate food with happier times with family, therefore meaning we use food to pick us up when we are feeling low, and a typical feeling around exam period! There are loads of different foods out there that can satisfy these cravings but aren’t quite as bad as chocolate and cake, so don’t reach for the biscuit tin, try something new.

So here is a list of just a few:

  1. Veggies with hummus – carrot, cucumber and celery to name a few work well with hummus, and this is a much more filling way to get in your greens. I like to buy flavoured hummus as well; my personal favourite is sun dried tomato flavour.
  2. Frozen yoghurt covered fruit – this is such a cool way to eat some extra fruit and you can afford to pick at these all day long. Just get your favourite fruit, berries work best with this, and cover them in your chosen yoghurt flavour. Then put these into a freezer safe sandwich bag and pop them in the freezer till completely frozen, delicious!
  3. Flatbread crackers – these are lovely with cream cheese or your choice of different toppings, a brilliant alternative to bread!
  4. Roasted pumpkin or butternut squash seeds – these are definitely my go to snack in a time of need, they are gorgeous when roasted in the oven dusted with a few spices and some salt, why would you consider even throwing them away?! Plus they contain a lot of zinc, known for helping memory, and we need every ounce of help we can get at this time of year right?
  5. Popcorn – this is one of the healthiest snacks going even when it doesn’t feel like it, if you need to give into your sweet tooth cravings then go for the sweet cinema style popcorn, it’s sure to be a hit.
  6. Avocado – this is supposed to be a very good brain food as it enhances blood flow around the body, try it in salads or on crackers as mentioned before.
  7. Sugar – don’t completely cut out sugar, you still need it but in good forms. Try oranges and strawberries as an easy alternative and they will be sure to satisfy your craving.
  8. Sage – now this sounds like a very strange option doesn’t it? But try adding sage or sage oils to different meals as it’s been known to improve memory power.
  9. Broccoli – this is a great source of vitamin K which is great for cognitive brain function.
  10. Peanut butter – this may sound like an odd one but this really will help, nuts contain essential oils and count as a brain boosting snack, it works wonderfully in your porridge in the morning.