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

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DIY Reusable Food Wraps/Fabric Beeswax Wraps

Creating your own fabric beeswax/reusable wraps is easy and a great way of re-purposing unwanted cotton fabric.

If you are unsure as to what beeswax wraps are, checkout my post What Are Beeswax / Reusable Wraps And Why Do I need them?

If not then lets get started!

There are multiple methods of essentially creating the same thing. Some people prefer to use pine resin, others not, some use jojoba oil, but coconut oil can also be used. Beeswax can be bought and grated or beeswax pellets can be used. One thing everyone needs however is fabric and beeswax!

What Do You Need To Make Beeswax Wraps

  • Fabric 100% cotton is best a fine weave sheet type thickness. I used part of an old sheet and part of a cotton blouse that was beyond repair.
  • Beeswax
  • Jojoba oil or Coconut oil
  • Pine resin (optional)
  • Parchment or baking paper
  • Dedicated paint brush (optional)
  • A heat source – oven, sandwich press or iron.
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What Are Beeswax / Reusable Wraps And Why Do I need them?

What Are they

A Beeswax wrap, also known as a reusable wrap is a piece of fabric (usually cotton) coated in a beeswax mixture and dried. It can be used to preserve food, cover dishes, as well as other uses. The heat of the hands help mould it either around food or to cover a plate, bowl or other type of container that has no lid.

They are mainly used as a more sustainable alternative to cling film or foil as they are plastic free and can be washed and reused.

What Are They Made From

They are usually made from 100% cotton which is coated with a mix of beeswax oil often jojoba and/ or coconut and a pine type rosin.

There are also vegan versions that do not use beeswax.

Why Do I Need Them

The wraps are a good alternative on the fight to reduce plastic in particular to reduce single use plastic. They replace foil and cling film particularly in food preservation. The wraps therefore help to reduce food waste as well as single use plastic waste. They take up very little room, so a great space saver compared to plastic or other containers.

How Do I Use Them

The wraps are simple to use. They use the warmth of your hands to become pliable and slightly sticky enabling you to mould the fabric around a food item such as bread, fruit a block of hard cheese or a sandwich. The fabric can be stretched and stuck over an opened tin or another plate or container to keep it air tight. They can be made into a pocket or cone for dried food/snacks or fruit.

It is not advisable to use them on meat.

It can be beneficial to colour code them. For example keeping the same colour for dairy products and another colour for vegetables.

Once used they can be washed in a mild detergent at a cool temperature and hung to air dry. They dry quickly.

Best Uses – Food

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How To Create A Stylish Sustainable Wardrobe

Creating a sustainable wardrobe not only helps the planet, helps support fair and ethical trade and working conditions it also helps you. Not only are you more likely to start wearing more natural fabrics, which will allow your skin to breath, helping your mind and body. You’ll become wiser in what you buy, where from, what works for you and your body shape, loving and utilising all of your clothing and then options for reusing or recycling once an item is no longer wanted or beyond repair. In the long run, you will also save time, money and energy!

Here are 14 sustainable fashion tips you can start doing today to create that stylish sustainable wardrobe

  • Press Pause on Purchases
  • Be Confident In Yourself Your Style And Your Vision
  • Choosing colours and clothing styles that support and compliment you
  • Organise – What do I already have
  • Create a sustainable capsule wardrobe
  • Use Accessories to change a look
  • Repair
  • Sell, Swap, Donate
  • Reuse
  • Recycle
  • Decide on what you need
  • Sustainable fabric choices
  • Where to buy
  • Take care of your clothing investment

Press Pause On Purchases

Over-consumption is one of the biggest factors regarding environmental issues. Fast fashion is exactly that…fast, not made to last or even expected to last because next season a different version will be made, and you’ll be expected to buy.

Creating a sustainable wardrobe involves thinking about your clothes in a sustainable way. They are an investment and an investment in you. You need to think about you, change your mindset don’t feel pushed into ‘The must have’s’ for the season. Start thinking in terms of ‘might have’s‘ and if its right for you and your wardrobe needs.

Stay away from the sale rail, unsubscribe from store emails, clear your browser from automatically opening to stores and make it difficult to buy anything clothes related. The chances are that unless you literally have no functioning underwear, socks or tights, you really don’t need to buy anything for at least a month and probably longer. Giving you a chance to work through most, if not all of the steps below.

If you think there is something you desperately need or has popped into your inbox with a massive discount, leave it where it is for 48 hours or even better a week. The chances are you won’t feel the same or have the same rush of ‘must have’. Putting distance between you and your habits in purchasing is where you can make the most gains in time and money. Most of us have bought something in the heat of the moment, then regretted it later or only worn the item once. Yes, you can return the item, but lets face it, its not usually something any of us want to be bothered with, and it could have been omitted just by pressing the pause button!

Being sustainable is not just about buying everything Eco-friendly, its about shopping wisely ensuring everything is really what you want, need and love to wear.

Be Confident In Yourself, Your Style And Your Vision

Be honest, and ask yourself the following questions:-

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Gift Ideas That Keep On Giving

Struggling to think of gift ideas for a friend or loved one? A special birthday coming up and they literally have everything? An Eco conscious friend your nervous to buy for? Look no further my list of top eight genres with lots of thoughtful ideas that keep on giving and don’t cost the earth in more ways than one in the process!

  • Planet Friendly Ethical Fashion
  • Gifts Including Memories
  • Gifts For The Gardener
  • Gifts That Support Someone Else
  • Experience Gifts
  • Practical And Personal
  • The Gift That Gives Elsewhere
  • The World Of Words

Planet Friendly Ethical Fashion

There is something about wearing natural fibres, that have been ethically and fairly made that puts a spring in your step. Whether an actual clothing item or a gift card, you can’t go wrong with a sustainable ethical clothing brand. Items produced in organic cotton, bamboo and hemp, not only bring a great talking point, they are a delight to wear, allowing your skin to breath and they last.

I love bamboo clothing, I came across the fact that you could make clothes with bamboo several years ago, which at the time to me, just seemed bizarre. I was intrigued and so I ordered some clothes. To speak in a very British way when my package arrived.. I wasn’t disappointed! For the not so British let’s go with awesome!

There are now multiple brands from Lucy & Yak to Noctu. The brand I have personally used for several years is Thought. Once delivered, I was amazed to open something that wasn’t full of plastic. (Even the outer bag was beautifully designed, paper and encouraged you to reuse). From the first feel of the softness and quality of that bamboo top and the cosy bamboo socks that snuggled around my toes, I was sold!

Since that time they have added more lines, with home, make-up, jewellery and accessories. As a company that has an ethos of responsible sourcing and caring about people and nature its a brand worth considering.

I have since purchased plenty of bamboo socks amongst other things as gifts!

For a link to the wearthought.com website click here.

Gifts including memories

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What can I do with overripe bananas

You bring your lovely bananas home partially green and it seems within seconds there are brown spots they quickly become less appealing to eat as each day passes. Before you know it, there are more black than yellow areas all hints of greenness disappeared. However before you head for the nearest bin even if its a compost bin have a look at these options. There are quick options for when you are heading out of the door!

  • Freeze
  • Banana porridge
  • Mashed Banana & Peanut Butter on toast
  • Smoothie
  • Banana Ice Cream (quick method)
  • Baked Banana
  • Banana & Mixed Fruit Crumble
  • Banana Flap Jacks
  • Banana over ripening prevention

Freeze

Freezing is a quick way of delaying any further ripening and saving them for use at a later date. You can actually freeze with the skin on, it will go black. (ensure when defrosting you place in a bowl as there will be liquid seeping)

Bananas are best put in an air tight container or freezer bag. I tend to use reusable jars. But whatever you use, you can peel and cut into chunks, there by being able to remove the amount of chunks you may want for later. If space is tight you can mash up and place in a freezer bag, flatten to remove air and seal. You then will have a nice flat shape that can slot in pretty much anywhere in the freezer. Labelling your item with how many mashed bananas it contains can be helpful for future use.

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Less is more – My own story

It started with a hedge!

Many years ago I was engaged in the most arduous garden job of cutting the hedge. The hedge that grew at an insane speed. Little did I know that this hedge would change my life! Whilst busy getting frustrated, I noticed a large clearance van outside a neighbors house quickly being filled with household contents and furniture.

The elderly lady had passed away a few months before. I knew she had no local family and her only child was a son that normally lived some distance away. I could see him overseeing the removals. The property had been sold, and the van quickly became crammed with her possessions.

It really hit me that as the men shut up the doors, how final it all was. That van was filled with a lifetime of possessions and furniture unwanted by the son or anyone else.

  • You do not know what is around the corner.
  • You cannot take it with you

I had many questions – What was the point? Why did we all work so hard to maintain houses? Why did we buy or acquire so many things? What should or could we do with those things? Over a lifetime many items will become lost, broken or worn out and will be replaced. However some items can hang around for years. We may notice and enjoy them….but sometimes not!

House moves are stressful

House moves are stressful but can often result in unopened boxes in a loft leftover from a house move from several years before. I’ve known people that have moved those unopened boxes from one house move to another.

We all have our own experiences and points of view of essential items. (If I’m ever able to possess a pair of Manolo Blahnik killer heels, then yes I probably would consider them essential!!!)

How many of our possessions when we die, realistically get taken by a friend or family member? At the time of my personal enlightenment the Swedish word ‘Dostadning’,  translated as ‘death cleaning’ in English was unknown.

Something really shifted inside of me that day. A seed was planted, a snowflake settled. Over time they gathered momentum, and my life looks very different now. I still don’t own a pair of Manolo Blahnik’s, but I do possess a smaller property without a hedge!

Dostadning’ from the the book by Margaretta Magnusson, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning

For Amazon click image above

The links below enable you to shop supporting the book shops local to you via Bookshop. org. (Currently UK and US only).

For UK bookshop.org click here

For US bookshop.org click here

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Why Less Is More

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Why Less Is More

With so many lives changed either temporarily or permanently in the last 12-18 months, the term, ‘less is more’ has possibly never been more relevant and can actually be beneficial in so many areas of our lives.

Wanting More

The temporary joy in acquiring something new, for most people, particularly in the western world rarely lasts that long. We move on surprisingly quickly. The cycle of wanting more material things or experiences therefore needing more money to buy them, which intern leads to push for promotion or a search for a job that pays more money to pay for them. The more ‘stuff’ you have the bigger the home you need, or possibly forced to pay for storage. The increased home and contents insurance. The time and/or money needed for repair or just maintenance, it can go on in a constant cycle.

Joshua and Ryan from The Minimalists are extremely honest in their stories of dissatisfaction , where they had achieved everything they thought was important in life – the 6 figure career, the home, the car, the seemingly perfect lifestyle yet they were unsatisfied, depressed, stressed and in debt. This then caused them to make large lifestyle changes.

In general, once basic needs, health and security are met the correlation between greater wealth and greater happiness is no longer the same and can even start to diminish.

More Options More Decisions

Having little or no choice can be too restrictive and make us unhappy or feel that we have no autonomy over our lives. More choice increases our happiness however too many choices can be overwhelming and we then end up with too many decisions to make.

How many people have a closet full of clothes yet they feel they have nothing to wear or late for work trying to decide?

Twenty years ago I travelled to Canada, wonderful, amazing country. However coming from the UK at that time if you asked for a coffee, the chances are it was given to you white, if you wanted black you would have to say before the milk went in, and no one had heard of nut milks! I think some places may have offered cappuccino if you were lucky!

So back in Canada, up early, slightly jet lagged we wanted to have a look around and decided to go out for breakfast. We found a cafe with huge options on the boards. I thought I’d make it easy by going for a coffee and a doughnut. The poor waitress was probably equally alarmed at my lack of knowledge and how many questions it took to get my order. First question what type of coffee then decaf or normal? milk? what kind of milk? Dairy, nut or soya? OK dairy -full, semi or skimmed? Sugar? what kind of sugar? We then moved onto the doughnut…what kind of doughnut? what flavour? Iced or plane? I think at this point I stammered something like plane with plane icing! I just remember feeling exhausted by the time I sat down!

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What Can I do with my glass jars?

So if you’re swapping as much of your supermarket shopping from plastic to glass, you may have realised that you suddenly now have a growing number of glass jars, they seem to breed when you’re not looking! So what can you do with them? Well the quick answer is..lots of things! Here is a quick list of 10 uses just to get started:-

  1. Food storage in cupboard, fridge & freezer
  2. Water/liquid holders
  3. Candle holder/illuminating lights
  4. drinking glasses
  5. Toiletries
  6. Cleaning products
  7. Storage of household items
  8. Gardening – growing and storage
  9. Decorating
  10. Home made gifts

From storage of pretty much anything that fits into it. Glass is ideal for food storage , whether that be cupboard, fridge or freezer. Keeping things around the house, ideal space savers. They can be decorated, used in the garden, there are endless possibilities! Also if you can’t reuse it, you still have a greener option of recycling, glass is 100% recyclable every time, even recycled glass.

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5 Easy ways to reduce plastic in your food shopping

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

author unknown

You know what it’s like, you’ve seen the media footage, you don’t want to see suffering animals, find packaging from your purchase ending up in the sea or a landfill site on the other side of the world. You’ve heard of Zero Waste, but think these people must be on a completely different planet to you and in the haze and stress of it all, somehow, you have to work, live and shop somewhere. – Here’s 5 easy hassle free ways you can do just that, as well as feel better that you are helping to reduce the overall consumption of plastic!

#1 Glass bottles and jars & more Glass bottles & jars !

When you start shopping in your supermarket, start thinking in terms of bottles and jars. Most products will also come in a bottle or jar alternative. Tomato ketchup, pasta sauces, mayonnaise, cooking oils. If you swap as many of your products as you can to glass versions, you will stop bringing so much plastic even into the house. Glass is much easier to re-use in the house . For ideas on What can i do with my glass jars? another post I have written click here .

#2 Consider Tinned

If there’s no glass alternative – is there a tin version? We are so used to picking up plastic, sometimes we just don’t think about it. Tin is more Eco-friendly than plastic and ideas of re-use coming soon. I’m now using them in my garden! Also consider tinned for drinks in preference to particularly single use plastic drinks bottles.

#3 Look for Cardboard

Open any freezer at the supermarket and your likely to fill your trolley with a tonne of items in the worst kind of plastic, unlikely to be even recyclable. Some companies are moving to more cardboard packaging, and some don’t have plastic around the items inside either. Frozen is a good way of using items, as you want them and creating less wastage. But it is also worth considering the packaging here.

Same with cleaning and clothes washing items, lookout for cardboard options. You can even totally re-think these items, but more on that in other posts.

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