What Worms Do I Choose For My Worm Farm?

So if you are considering buying or creating a worm farm, you need worms and there are different types that will thrive in slightly differing worm farm environments. Below are a few pointers to consider followed by an easy guide table for comparison to find the ideal worms for your situation.

Worm Farm Outside Location – Climate

If your worm farm is going to located outside, your climate will come into the mix on decision making, and you may need to move them at certain times of the year.

Worms don’t like extreme hot or cold. So sun protection from the heat as well as insulation from the cold and/or relocation will need to be considered. The worms may withstand a short burst of a few days of harsh weather conditions, however, any longer and they are likely to stop eating and reproducing or even die.

Worm Farm Usage

What do you hope to use them for? For some it is predominantly about waste reduction and verma compost production. For others its about reproduction using for bait or selling on for bait or other worm farm enthusiasts.

Extreme Weather Protection Ideas – Heat

  • Keep them located in a shady spot out of direct sunlight or minimal sun during dawn or dusk.
  • Garages can be warmer in winter and cooler in summer, providing a more even temperature year round.
  • Move them inside.
  • Create a sun shade/canopy or use a garden parasol or sail.
  • Drop a couple of ice cubes in the corner of the top tray or buried in the middle.
  • Sprinkle water on food scraps and freeze them first.
  • Place a piece of hessian or old towel on top and keep it damp with cold water or ice.

Extreme Weather Protection Ideas – Cold

  • Moving to a warmer location like a shed or garage, particularly if you have a heat source nearby like a light or even a car that’s garaged will provide heat as its cooling down to the area.
  • Moving them inside, kitchens, spare rooms utilities or basements.
  • Wrapping in blankets, carpet, bubble wrap, hay bales or anything that will insulate (They still need to breathe so ensure there is adequate air supply.

What Is The Right Worm Type For Me

NameAlso
Known
As
Latin NameBehaviourInternal Temp Boundaries
Red WormRed Wriggler,Tiger,
Manure,compost,trout,
panfish, branding
Eisinaia
Fetida
Good all rounder, ferocious appetite, hardy, reproduces after 9 weeks. Less sensitive to environmental changes than other worms, adapting to the change.Optimum 18-27 °C
(64-80°F)
Possible
10-35 °C (50-95°F)
African Night CrawlerANCEudrilus EugeniaeChunky muscular worm, ferocious appetite, reproduces after 5/6 weeks. More sensitive temperature and does not like cold.Optimum 23-26°C (75-80)°F
Possible
21- 32°C (70-90°F)
European Night CrawlerENC, Euros, Belgian or European Night CrawlersEisenia HortensisChunky worm, shorter than ANC but thicker. Good for fishing as wriggles on hooks. Good appetite hardier than ANC but not as hardy as Reds. Reproduces after 13 weeks.Optimum 15-21°C (60-70°F)
Possible
7-26°C (45-80°F)
Indian Blue
Blues, Malaysian Blue, Travelling wormPerionyx ExcavatusOften mistaken Red Wrigglers but they do have a blue or dark coloured head and skinny. They will eat similar volume. Fast movers, possibly sensitive to thunder storms & invade other worm bins. Prefer the heat and wont withstand colder temperatures. Popular in tropical climates. Reproduces after 6-8 weeks.Optimum
21-26°C (70-80°F)

Possible
15- 32°C (60-90°F)

The above gives approximate temperature ranges for inside the worm farm. Worms will always thrive in optimum environments, this includes temperature but there are other factors. See my post on keeping a worm farm here.

When a worm farm is not optimum there is less eating and less production. If the inside of the farm is exceeding ideal temperatures, for instance its winter and you go into a really cold snap. Without intervention they may die, or at a minimum they will reduce their activity, eating and certainly reproduction levels. Having said that eggs will be in the farm, so if left they will hatch later once warmed up.

I live in the southern part of the UK. In January / February the outside temperature was hovering around freezing or just above for most of the time. At one point we were at -5 for about a week. I have Red Wrigglers, they live in an outside tower wormery.

I had them on a sheltered part of the patio which would catch the winter sun if we had any. I put some straw inside and had them wrapped in a box, a bit of carpet and covered in tarpaulin.

They were battered by rain, wind and some freezing conditions. During the minus snap I didn’t open them up, but once the temperature was above freezing I checked on them, and although they hadn’t eaten as much, they were still fine. A few weeks later once the outside temperature was about 7°C (44°F) (inside would be warmer) they had clearly been much more active.

Where Can I Purchase Worms?

If not found locally, online is the easiest way of making a purchase. Any good provider will post them securely and safely, with enough food to last the journey. I have conveniently provided some sellers links on amazon below.

I purchased my own worm farm including the worms the kit pictured below, through Wormcity that sell on amazon, and I was pleased with the service, information provided and the results.

Other Posts You May Find Of Interest

Composting With A Wormery – Is It Worth It?

Soap Nuts The Verdict- What Are They and Do They Work?

What Can I Do With Overripe Bananas ?

Imperfectly Eco-Friendly

Why Less Is More

What Is Art Journaling And How Do I Start ?

Composting With A Wormery Is It Worth It?

So you’re considering buying or building a wormery or worm farm and wondering whether it’s worth it? In general wormery’s work well and are an efficient means of creating compost or just reducing your waste for properties that have small or no gardens.

However they are no means exclusive to this situation. There are many, myself included, that use several composting techniques, having a wormery being one of them. It is a fascinating way of being aware of how items are decomposed and nature works, reducing waste and providing a high nutrient rich compost called vermacompost and a natural organic fertiliser.

Before making your decision it’s worth considering some or all of the following questions expanded upon in this post to see if its the right choice for you :

  • Why Do I Want A Wormery
  • Does It Take Up Much Time
  • Does It Take Up Much Space
  • What Items Can I Put In My Wormery
  • What Items Should I Avoid
  • Does A Wormery Attract Rats
  • How Often Do I Need To Feed The Worms
  • What Happens If I Go On Holiday
  • How Much Compost Does A Wormery Make
  • How Long Does A Wormery Take To Produce Compost
  • What’s The Best Way To Use The Compost Produced
  • How Do I know If My Worms Are Happy
  • Can You Have Too Many Worms In Your Wormery
  • Where Can I Get A Wormery
  • Where Can I Get The Worms
  • Can I Use Worms I Find In The Garden
  • Conclusion
  • Helpful Links

Why Do I Want A Wormery

Wanting to create your own organic compost, a convenient way to reduce food, garden and home waste, even being interested in how decomposition works, and the fun of watching it all happen for yourself or with your kids, are all good reasons to compost.

Having a wormery or worm farm helps to keep things much tidier, and little space needed. They can be particularly helpful for people with small or no gardens. It can also mean being able to continue composting over winter periods, especially if you are able to keep the wormery insulated or in a shed, garage or even inside.

Does It Take Up Much Time

Not at all. The time it takes to open the box say hello to your worms and drop in some food. Sometimes I have cut up the scraps smaller and sometimes not, depending on the time I have.

Initially I was visiting them most days to see how they were doing, what worked best, and checking in case of escapes. I’ve since on occasions when tied up with other projects, or away have neglected them for a week or two, they were fine and had been busy eating and mating!

Setup may take longer depending on if you are creating a DIY version or purchasing a ready made. I went for a ready made tower version. It took far longer for me to read the extensive instructions and worm care than it did the 10 mins to put it together.

Continue reading “Composting With A Wormery Is It Worth It?”

Soap Nuts The Verdict- What Are They & Do They Work?

Several years ago I was shown and given a sample of the soap nuts in my local Eco-friendly Store. I had never heard of them, I was fascinated by the idea, and as I love anything natural, I gave them a go.

What Are They

Soap nuts, soap berries, wash nuts they all refer to the dried fruit of the Sapindas Mukorossi Tree also known as the Reetha Tree. These amazing little beauties are basically a 100% natural, compostable and biodegradable alternative to conventional detergent and synthetic soaps. Predominantly used for laundry but they can be used for pretty much cleaning anything, with no nasty extras.

Do They Work

Continue reading “Soap Nuts The Verdict- What Are They & Do They Work?”

How To Make Your Own Soap Nut Liquid Extract For Laundry & Cleaning

Soap nuts or other names , wash nuts, soap berries and reetha nuts, are traditionally associated as being a natural alternative for laundry washing. Putting the nuts inside a little bag and adding them to your laundry load.

This 100% naturally created fully biodegradable berry, is not exclusive to laundry and also thankfully has many more wonderful uses. It is a gentle cleaner and can be used as a natural shampoo or hand wash, yet it is strong enough for hand and machine dish washing. It can also be a general purpose cleaner around the home for worktops, floors and windows, and pretty much anything else you may want to wash or clean such as the dog!

The saponin which is contained within the shells of the nut or berry needs to be extracted to create the brown tea looking mixture that is used to clean. To do this the soap nuts need to be boiled. Here is a simple recipe below.

You Will Need

  • 15-20 Soap Nuts
  • 6 -10 Cups Of water
  • A large saucepan
  • Clean container
  • Large wooden spoon or masher

Method

  • Place the soap nuts in a large pan
  • Add 6 cups of cold water and bring to the boil
  • Simmer for 20 minutes
  • Periodically squeeze the soap nuts against the sides of the pan or use a masher. (this is to agitate the soap nuts so that they release more saponin)
  • Add another 2 cups of water, bring to boil again and simmer for about 45 minutes.
  • Keep watch of the pan as it can quickly boil over particularly with a lid on.
  • Continue to mash and squash up the shells until your not seeing the suds expel soap or they have lightened or gone greyish or clear.
  • Remove from heat and wait to cool before pouring the liquid through a sieve to separate the shells and pour into your vessels.

It isn’t an exact science, the amount of saponin extracted may depend on the quality of your soap nuts. They may need to simmer for longer or for more water to be added. As a general rule you want the soap nuts to be discoloured. Either way you will be left with a soapy liquid. If you find it to be too weak, you add less water or more nuts next time. If you live in a soft water area, you will have more suds.

Alternative Slow Cooker Method

Continue reading “How To Make Your Own Soap Nut Liquid Extract For Laundry & Cleaning”

Easy Green Living Tips You Can Start At Home Today

Whilst the biggest impact changes to reduce environmental damage to our world will need to come from countries, governments and industry. There is still many quick and easy things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint.

Take a quick look at our #10 top tips for going more Eco-Friendly and the action tips you can easily do today perhaps even right now to be a little more greener!

Check Your Energy Supplier

According to a recent PNAS study residential energy use accounts for 20% of greenhouse gases in the US. Living in and enjoying our homes does tend to be one of our highest contributions to energy usage. We need electricity and/or gas to pretty much do anything.

However, where is that energy coming from? Checking and considering switching to a green energy supplier means you will be using energy provided by renewable sources like wind, sun and water for electricity and either carbon offsetting or bio gas for gas.

If you are not using a green supplier by default all your energy is likely to be coming from fossil fuels or a mix. Either way worth checking the detail!

A green energy supplier doesn’t necessarily mean more expensive either. So going greener could even end up saving you money as well as a big reduction in your carbon footprint!

Action 1 You Can Do Today

  • Hop on the internet and checkout your suppliers web page and where they say their energy is coming from. Click into the specifics for a breakdown.

Turn Off Lights & Electrical Equipment When Not In Use

Whilst turning off lights that are needed is kind of a no brainer…but we’ve all done it! Turning off standby electrical goods is one of those grey areas where there is a trade off between feeling that it is a hassle to turn everything off for the possible negligible amount saved, or that it’s not using energy.

The reality is however, something that’s powered off is not powered down.

Older electrical goods are more likely to use more standby power than newer more energy efficient ones. However don’t be fooled about that negligible amount for say one TV. Most homes have multiple devices. Often more than one TV home entertainment systems, DVD’s, games consoles, tablets, computers and laptops music centres, speakers and mobile phones.

Even once charged (a mobile phone is likely to take no more than 2 hours) yet will keep drawing energy whenever left on charge. Add in hand held or rechargeable household tools and power tools with all the other devices and suddenly, there is a lot of extra power being used needlessly increasing your carbon footprint and adding to your fuel bill year on year.

According to The Energy Saving Trust the average UK household spends £35 a year powering ‘on standby’ devices.

There are standby saver products on the market, enabling multiple devices to be switched off at the same time. For product ideas via amazon click here.

Action 2 You Can Do Today

Continue reading “Easy Green Living Tips You Can Start At Home Today”

Growing Tomatoes For Beginners

Growing tomatoes is hugely rewarding, and a great beginner crop as they are so versatile for both eating raw and cooking. There can be some effort involved, they have quite a long growing season and need plenty of water. They are however worth the effort. I will be covering:-

  • What Variety
  • Where to grow tomatoes
  • Best time of year to grow tomatoes
  • Can I grow a tomato from a tomato?
  • What you will need
  • How To Start

What Variety

Cherry, Roma, Beefsteak, Early Super sweet. There are many varieties of tomato. It really comes down to your own taste. What type of tomato you prefer, eat the most, or cook with. One of the easiest to grow is the Cherry tomato. Bush variety tomatoes need little support and easily grow in containers. San Marzano Tomatoes are a long and thin meaty tomato, an early producer and cope well in a wet cooler climates like the UK and excellent for sauces.

Where to grow tomatoes

Tomatoes can be grown in pots, grow bags, raised beds, hanging baskets and the ground. Literally anywhere that you have space and sunshine.

They need watering and try not to let them dry out too much then flood them or you will have burst skins.

Depending on the variety you will need to provide support for the plant as it grows, this can be against a fence or wall or by using canes and/or cages.

Best Time Of Year To Grow Tomatoes

Tomatoes thrive with 6-8 hours of daily sunshine, however mine have grown on less. They can be grown indoors, in greenhouses and outside. When planting out they will need to be after frosts, but seedlings can be grown inside so that they are ready to plant out once your frosts have passed.

Can I grow a tomato from a tomato?

Yes you can, you can take a slice of a tomato with the seeds in and plant it, keep it moist and within 7-14 days you will start to see seedlings.

What will I need

  • Some sort of container with drainage holes (If no drainage holes you can use Stones/broken pottery/used tea bags)
  • A waterproof container for the above container to sit in household plate/ lid/tray/gardening trays
  • Compost
  • Seeds
  • Water

How To Start

You can purchase ready made plants at nurseries and garden centres, however, if you wish to grow from seed, see below.

  1. Make holes in your container or fill with alternative drainage option
  2. Put in the compost allowing allowing about 2-3cm clearance from the top.
  3. With your finger just make a line I have made 2 lines in the soil in the square plastic container shown roughly 5-7 mm’s deep.
  4. Sprinkle or place seeds as recommended on the packet.
  5. Cover them back over with the compost.
  6. Water and place them where you want them to go depending on your climate, space or season.
  7. Once large enough to plant out (after first truss flowering) and your frosts have passed, then choose your container, area, or grow bag and move them into their new space.
  8. Once growing you may need to add a cane or some sort of support and carefully and gently tie the stalk to the support.
  9. As they grow cut or pinch of side shoots (those that are between the leaf and the main stem).
  10. Tomatoes need reach fertile soil, so feeding is recommended, there are many tomato fertilisers around. I tend to feed mine from my kitchen scraps, for example, coffee and tea pot leftovers, including the water. Onion and garlic leftovers, cut small and surrounding stems, to help keep slugs and snails away. I top up with home compost, I have tended to find that this is enough to provide a fruitful delicious harvest.

Its late September in the UK as I write this. I have been busy the last few weeks and rather neglected my raised bed tomatoes and they have gone crazy so this week as we are largely quickly running out of sunshine hours and certainly any sunshine, should we get any lacks any intense heat. I have therefore cut them right back, Only keeping anything with fruit on it. I would normally allow my tomatoes to get to the 5th truss before stopping any further growth. I tied them high out of the way of slugs and snails that are around as it is also wet. I’m hoping the sunshine due this weekend will help turn the last of them. There was also some flowers, I suspect it is too late for them, but it will be interesting to see if they develop should we have a blast of some sunshine come October, even if I get green tomatoes, they can still be used.

So you have a harvest…what now? Initially you are bound to have a few at a time. I love nothing more than picking my lettuce some tomatoes and herbs for a side salad with dinner or for a wrap with Falafel. As more start ripening, I then start using them in recipes or pasta sauces, and this time of year I love to make Roasted Mediterranean Vegetable Soup, its one of my favourites…. Warm and hearty summer tastes on a chilly autumn night.

For Roasted Mediterranean Vegetable Soup recipe click here

Other Posts You May Find Helpful

Gardening For Non Gardeners

7 Reasons Why You Should Make Your Own Soup

Broccoli and Stilton Soup

5 Easy ways to reduce plastic in your food shopping

5 Instant Happiness Tips For a Bad Day

Why Less Is More

Imperfectly Eco-Friendly- Let’s Just Start!

With the sometimes frightening headlines regarding climate change, masses of information and conflicting arguments. Trying to do your bit and knowing where and how to start can quickly become overwhelming.

However taking a greener step forward and having a mindset change in how you manage your life, home and consumption can help both the environment and often yourself on your greener living journey.

The important thing is not to be put off, just by living we create waste. None of us are perfect, we all make mistakes, perhaps even often! Throw in some conflicting choices, when you’re under pressure and before you know it you’re wondering if you can consider yourself to be Eco-Friendly at all! It’s OK, just start and keep on going.

Think Slow & Sustainable

Some of the choices we make are habit and others practicality or even emotional. If your green light bulb moment has gone off, that is fantastic. However please don’t immediately start replacing everything with an ‘Eco-Friendly‘ alternative and throw perfectly usable items away unnecessarily.

Alternatively if you’ve been wowed by a zero waste video (some are seriously impressive!) but now frightened to throw anything in the trash! Filling your garage or basement with unloved items or worse, garbage, isn’t a great idea either. There is a transition period.

I can assure you, these people didn’t get there overnight. It’s a journey. Everyone’s lives, households, jobs and passions are different and in fact frequently changing. You could be trying to alter behaviours you have been doing for years, and also have other family members that are sadly not really on board with your new found ideas!

Making things manageable, small habit changes that you can build on, is likely to be more successful. Go easy on yourself, you’re in it for the long haul. You are much more likely to stick to sustainable thinking and living if you don’t try and do to much too soon.

We don’t need a few people to do Zero Waste perfectly, we need loads of people to do it imperfectly.

Author Unknown
Continue reading “Imperfectly Eco-Friendly- Let’s Just Start!”

Gardening For Non-Gardeners

Most people will admire a beautiful, well maintained garden with diverse plants and colours, food crops and/or flowers. Whether big or small, they can amaze and inspire you. For the non-gardener wanting to start however, it can seem daunting. Below are 5 very easy tips on how to get going for beginners…… real beginners, the type of beginners that have no gardening equipment, possibly not even a garden!

I will be covering:-

  1. What To Grow
  2. How To Start
  3. Space
  4. Equipment
  5. Growing Your Own

What To Grow?

This really is the first decision. Sometimes if you have been given something as a gift or offered plants and you’ve taken them, you can give it a go and start there. Otherwise, you need to decide, or browse around a nursery and see what inspires you. Flowers, shrubs or fruit and veg? Perhaps a little of each. This may change over time. I know plenty of people with beautiful gardens, that really enjoy gardening but only cultivate plants and flowers to and don’t touch fruit and vegetables and others who are more the other way. The rest of us are somewhere in the middle.

If you like to cook, or have a cook in the household, the chances are you’d like some of your own fruit and veg. If you are going to try fruit or veg then the next question is what do you like to eat? If you are going to go to the trouble of growing something, you really want to be making sure that you eat it, otherwise what’s the point!

Another pointer, particularly if you are going to grow things in the ground is, if it grows in a neighbouring garden, the chances are it will grow in yours! So getting to know your gardening neighbours, friends or family who may be local, if they are in to gardening, the chances are they will be happy to help. I’ve admired pretty plants before in peoples front gardens and when the opportunity has arisen, I have asked what they were, usually people are very accommodating.

I am in the UK so I’m in a temperate climate, www.gardenia.net gives extensive international information and links regarding what you can grow in your climate.

Easy plants to grow

Flowers – (From Seed or purchased as young plants) Sunflowers, Zinnias and Pansies

Shrubs – (from young plants) Lavender, Daisy & Dogwood

Fruit & Veg (from seed) – Lettuce, Tomatoes, Cucumber, Radishes, Spinach, Turnip, Carrots, Mint, Strawberries, Potatoes, Onion, Garlic.

How To Start

How to start? – Just start! It really is that simple. Don’t be overwhelmed.

It really is all about confidence and having a go, letting yourself make mistakes, which you will laugh about later, but would have learnt a lot in the process. Everyone has been a non gardener at some point! My poor house and garden plants spent years having to deal with flood and drought, as I would forget to water them, or leave them too long in the sun until I would finally notice they had gone brown.

Here are some starting options:-

1. Buy a ready made pot or plant that you like the look of and nurture it. Watering them when they need it and dead heading (removing dead flower heads as they die off) You will soon get to know when they are thriving and when they are well…..not so happy!They are mainly found in supermarkets, home and garden stores and nurseries, usually come with instructions, mainly plants and/or flowers although you can find vegetable ones and can be for inside or outside.

2. Buy a starter kit. These usually come with everything you need with them, pots, soil, seeds. They can make nice gifts, and often in shops leading up to Christmas. Nurseries with gift shops and home stores are likely to stock them. They will often have flowers, herbs or salad to help you get going. I have been given a few over the years. One of my favourites was this below, particularly as it came in a box with biodegradable pots, sadly it did have plastic labelling sticks, however I did have some success with it.

3. Buy ready made baby plants from a nursery, supermarkets or home and garden centres for re-potting into a container or direct into the ground.

4. Growing your plant from seed. You will need seeds, soil (compost) and a container, reusing supermarket fruit containers is fine, or anything else you might have in the house.

Space

The incredible thing about gardening is that you can do it in a tiny space like a windowsill or balcony, to an allotment or large garden and land. A few choice pots may be all you need to get started and gain confidence. The Edible Balcony by Alex Mitchell is a great book for balcony gardening or small space ideas and inspiration.

Container gardening is an excellent way of managing plants and flowers, and reusing unwanted items in the house. You don’t need to necessarily buy expensive or plastic pots. If you are purchasing plants, rather than growing from seed, you very quickly acquire them anyway! It also enables you to move pots to another part of the garden, if there is a season change, or it its unhappy in a location. You are also more likely to notice changes or damage when you have less to look after or move them around because you fancy a change.

Continue reading “Gardening For Non-Gardeners”

How To Stretch Meals From One Chicken

Buying a whole chicken and stretching it to make multiple meals makes sense in so many ways. Environmentally less processing, packaging and energy used in a whole rather than individual portions. Health reasons, reducing your meat intake and maximising your vegetables brings health benefits. Financially because it is usually cheaper to buy a whole chicken than individual portions, and if you use all of it you will make the most of your chicken and save your pocket!

Fresh V Frozen

Depending on what you have access to and how you shop, may depend on whether you buy a fresh or frozen chicken. I always buy a fresh whole chicken just because I know if for some reason I didn’t use it, it could go straight in the freezer whole or cut up. In general I’m usually using it within a couple of days of purchase and certainly within any use by dates.

I also like to keep some cooked chicken back and freeze it for another meal. Although technically you could refreeze a meal made with previously frozen chicken, I personally prefer not to.

One thing you definitely cannot do is refreeze raw chicken that has been defrosted. However you can refreeze a meal that has been created from a thawed frozen chicken once.

This is why I personally buy fresh so that I know I can cook and freeze without concern of how many times the meat from the chicken has been frozen.

Cook First Or Chop Up

Although there is nothing to stop you chopping up a chicken before cooking, especially if you want to freeze or use parts of a fresh chicken, such as legs and wings for a different type of recipe. In reality it’s harder to cut up than a cooked chicken, which once cooked will literally just fall apart once you start handling it.

Top Tips

Care must be taken handling raw meat, the equipment you use and suitable storage. Ensure you avoid any contact with other food items.

Whenever you are using frozen chicken (cooked or uncooked) ensure it has been thoroughly defrosted preferably overnight in a fridge and used within 1 day.

#1 Roast Dinner

I know I’m perhaps biased being from the UK but in my opinion you can’t beat a Sunday Roast! Yummy family meal, roast potatoes, parsnips and carrots can go in the same roasting tin or separate if you prefer. I usually make a cauliflower and broccoli cheese in advance which also gets popped into the oven at the same time. With or without stuffing, lashings of gravy. Most people in my experience want breast. Top tip to save on the meat consumption, don’t put the whole bird on the table, slice thinly and plate up individual portions, a spoonful of stuffing, a couple of potatoes and a splash of gravy make the plate look fuller and people are able to help themselves to the vegetables on the table.

The bird remaining in the kitchen is harder to get to and less likely to be picked at. Meaning more meals can be made from it!

#2 Remove All The Meat

Either the same day as roasting or at most the next day, I remove all the meat from the bones. As the chicken has been roasted it falls off easily. I separate it into different smaller containers. The skin, gristly parts and bones are put together in one (to make stock). The rest of the meat is pulled off the bones, legs and wings included and divided up, not forgetting underneath the bird. I try and divide the meat into the portion sizes I am likely to use as a maximum for future meals, whether that be later in the week or to freeze. In the images below the chances are by using other ingredients, particularly vegetables in my cooking I will be able to stretch 2 main meals for a family of 3/4 from one container of chicken.

If you have family members that prefer to eat off the bone, then you can keep the legs and wings in tact. However I do find that because I strip the bones and usually combine the meat with other ingredients, it tends to go further.

Continue reading “How To Stretch Meals From One Chicken”

How To Make Meals Stretch

Making the most of your food, eating well but reducing food waste saves time, the planet and money in your pocket. Far from being a frugal ideal. Being savvy with what you buy, use and plan makes complete financial and environmental sense. Most people go through periods in their lives when they need to make savings, being prepared or starting now to allow for a build up of funds for later is no bad thing, or simply wanted to divert funds elsewhere.

Planning

There’s truth in the saying fail to plan and you plan to fail. The reality is however if you plan your meals for the week and then get the shop for the week, you are less likely to overbuy create waste and end up throwing food away and basically your money too! You can also often double up on meal prep, leftovers, stretch individual food items to go that little bit further and easily swap options about.

I have tried several ways but find it easier to just keep a month at a time calendar in the kitchen specifically for main meals. It also helps to look back if your stuck for ideas, enables others to write a favourite meal request in for the future, as well as a guide for the week.

If something has come up, or for some reason we are having something different for dinner, everything just gets moved by a day, or an item that may be in the freezer might get moved to the following week. It’s a guide, but its flexible, and enables advanced food prep or the welcome of a hot meal waiting in slow cooker for when you come home after a long day!

Bulk With Legumes & Vegetables

Adding lentils, beans, peas and/or other seasonal cheaper vegetables particularly to casseroles, bakes, pies, curries and risotto’s especially ones including meat, can really help to create a much larger amount, therefore creating another meal for another day or reducing the amount of meat required. As meat is often the most expensive part of the meal, this can create considerable saving, particularly if you are having dinner guests.

I always add lentils, leftover veg and a tin of chopped tomatoes to my lasagne, cottage pie and chilli, when using minced beef/steak as well as when creating vegetable versions. I find it gives greater flavour, and greater volume with surprisingly little meat. My team are not keen on kidney beans so I use mixed beans or baked beans instead.

Casseroles and curries can easily contain more vegetables than meat with nobody really noticing. Even with a shop bought sauce adding more vegetables and legumes will not only add nutrition, it will add volume. You can always add more water or stock, gravy, a tin of tomatoes, or baked beans to stretch the sauce content, if it seems too dry.

Reduce Meal Or Plate Size

Not everyone likes a mountain of food on their plate. I know several people for whom a loaded plate is the quickest way to put them off their food. Reducing food portions can help with reducing volume consumption and therefore overall cost. Using a slightly smaller dinner plate can also help give the impression of a large plateful of food, if that is your enjoyment.

Weekly Leftover / Fridge Crawl Meals

Allowing for one night a week when you have leftovers and/or fridge crawls is a great way of using up food that otherwise could be heading for the bin in a few more days. A friend of mine used to call it bits and bobs night. Its amazing what you can create when your forced to! I find Its kind of nice to have a buffet on the table if there are several left over dishes, you can create a few sides, left over veg, salads, pickles or even fruit and some bread. Does it really matter if things don’t go that much? Everyone has enough to eat and your less likely to have something that’s gone off in the back of the fridge, or iced up in the freezer.

Make One Freeze One

Continue reading “How To Make Meals Stretch”