BBC Countryfile Magazine
10 tips to save money, effort and the planet
1. VOTE WITH YOUR SPENDING POWER FOR THE WORLD YOU WANT
Shopping more ethically is easier than we think, from choosing Fairtrade-labelled chocolate, tea, coffee, vanilla and sugar for baking, to subscribing to a seasonal organic weekly fruit and vegetable box. Shop at your local farmer’s market and seek out refill shops to cut back on plastic packaging.
2. DINE AT PLACES WHERE THE CHEFS CELEBRATE THEIR FARMERS
I like to eat at restaurants where you can clearly see that the chefs honour their suppliers on the menu. Whether they are keeping it hyper-local and sourcing from a mile away or seeking out companies that operate seasonally and sustainability, it’s fantastic to see a food’s provenance.
3. CUT DOWN ON FOOD WASTE
From broccoli stalks to cauliflower leaves, carrot and radish tops to asparagus ends and herb stems, no food needs to be a second-best ingredient. We need to rethink waste – when we throw away food we throw away free flavour and we throw our money in the bin. The ‘Fruit bowl bake’ recipe in my book Eat Green is ideal for using up squished berries, bruised apples and ripe bananas; my ‘Freestyle fritters’ use up any grated root veg, or try my ‘Fridge raid frittata’.
4. STRETCH GOOD QUALITY MEAT
Adding pulses is a fantastic way of padding out recipes that use sustainably sourced meat. I put lentils in my Bolognese, black beans in my burgers, chickpeas in my fish cakes, kidney beans in curries and Carlin peas in stews.
5. GROW YOUR OWN
Save money, save on packaging and increase your joy by growing herbs in the garden or in a window box. I love making fresh mint tea and a herbaceous jar every Saturday of whatever herbs I have. And I really enjoy growing rocket salad leaves, chillies and cherry tomatoes, too; watching them grow brings so much happiness. I’ll grow rainbow chard next.
6. SAVE ON ENERGY BILLS
When I turn the oven on to make dinner, I always load up a second roasting tray and bake any vegetables that need using up to make the most of the energy used to heat the oven. These can go into tomorrow’s ‘Fridge raid frittata’ for lunch, or be quickly whizzed into a hearty spiced soup.
7. EAT SEASONALLY
It really is an enjoyable way of connecting more to food and to nature; it also keeps things interesting on an inspiration level. Celebrating seasonal produce means you look forward to the changing seasons and you’re eating fruit and veg when it is at its most abundant, ripe and flavoursome.
8. CHANGE UP YOUR BEANS
Rather than be wed to an ingredient because we always buy it or because a recipe tells us too, change it up – be flexible. Eating different beans, legumes, pulses and wholegrains is great for our health as our gut likes variety, but also allows us to take advantage of price deals on different foods. In the recipe above, I’ve chosen cannellini beans, but if chickpeas or butterbeans are cheap, use them insted. Soaking and cooking dried beans also saves money and packaging.
9. USE SCRAPS AND CHEESE ENDS
When you’re chopping vegetables, put any scraps in a bowl next to you. I keep a reusable bag in the freezer and fill it with herb stems, veg peelings, onion scraps, tough bits of celery and then, once a month, make a pot of vegetable stock. It’s free, delicious flavour. Also keep Parmesan rinds and add them to your pasta sauces for a fantastic taste.
10. COOK ONCE, EAT TWICE
Make your freezer your friend by batch cooking your favourite comfort foods. In busy weeks I love knowing that I have nourishing dinners ready to go. Every time I freeze extras, I think ‘your future self will thank you!’. Plus it saves on gas and electricity bills, saves time, money, our energy and cuts down on food waste
– win, win, win.