Monday, 29 August 2011

How not to waste open jars and packets

One of the main things that stops me - and I guess you - being frugal is the tendency to use an ingredient for a single recipe then fail to use the rest of it. The problem is it requires constant thought - remembering it's in the fridge (or cupboard) and incorporating it into - or even letting it inspire - another meal.

But this week on holiday in France with slightly less on my mind I managed it.

When we arrived at the house we found there wasn't much to go with the sausages we'd picked up at the local shop. We had a tin of haricots blancs, a jar of red peppers, some garlic and a few shallots. I sweated off a couple of the shallots and a clove of garlic, sliced about a third of the peppers and added those to the pan along with the rinsed beans. French tinned beans break down more easily, I find, so you get a kind of rough-textured garlicky purée that's particularly good with sausages. A holiday staple.

The next day I made a piperade (spicy scrambled eggs - above) with another of the shallots, another third of the peppers and a pinch of hot paprika, let it cool slightly then stirred in 5 lightly beaten eggs and scrambled them. You need to cool your pepper mixture first otherwise it turns the eggs an unappealing shade of salmon pink or, worse still, pink and green. Hot peppers and eggs are a great combination.

And the next I concocted an impromptu hors d'oeuvres with hard boiled eggs, sardines, some tapenade toasts (toasted leftover baguette spread with olive paste) and the remaining peppers which finished off the jar.

Part of it I think is being aware you have limited time in a place so you don't want to stock up with a lot of food you can't use. And maybe being too idle to go to the shops in the heat. (Sorry, shouldn't rub it in. It has been gloriously hot and sunny here.)

But it's a good way to eat and use up what you buy.

How good are you at using up leftover ingredients? Any two or three-way recipes you can recommend?


Sarah said...

I usually end up chucking things either into a quiche/tart or using them on a pizza, or in fry-up, or into a stew of some sort. If I remember, of course.

Recently I made a pavlova and let the egg yolks fester in the fridge. To the point where I threw them out container and all because I couldn't face the probable stench. I'm not proud.

Barbara said...

I find a couscous salad a great way of using bits and pieces from the fridge.

Caroline said...

This is something I really, really struggle with. The number of times I find open jars of uncertain heritage is too many to count. It doesn't help that I live on my own and am fussy about use-by dates and use within x days of opening. Sigh.

I'd love ideas for ricotta though - I buy it intending to do different things with it each day, but end up with pasta sauce three days in a row (I reckon one tub will do me three meals). The only other ideas I've come up with are on a pizza (but I don't have time to make the dough when I get home from work...) so any veggie ideas would be great!

I have to say that finishing a tub/jar of anything counts as a major achievement in this house, rather than chucking the last bit out!

Fiona Beckett said...

We all do it, Sarah *sighs*. But you can freeze egg yolks, you know (and scroll down).

I'm also a great fan of couscous salads, Barbara. And frittatas.

So far as ricotta is concerned how about having it for breakfast, C with a fruit compote (easy to run up from seasonal fruit) or thawed frozen berries? It's nice if you grate a little lemon rind into it. And add a touch of caster sugar if you find it too tart.

Newschoolofcooking said...

Couscous salad is very healthy and Delicious as well! Nice Blog

bipins said...

wasting food is criminal in this day and age, ..I've spent some time looking into this for cooking a curry at home where you could use up to 20+ herbs and spices, and you only use a little bit of each the rest of the 50g+ in the jar or packet ends up sitting around on the shelf and eventually goes off. ...the solution is a fresh ready made blend of herbs and spices. I've done this take a look at, I send these out by post and over 10,000 people have enjoyed my fresh natural creations. ..I would very much like Fiona to try them out.

Fiona Beckett said...

Interesting way of getting round the problem @bipins and certainly saves time but might be a bit pricey for some budgets.

ro said...

On inviting some neighbours in the Lot to supper to use up our leftovers on our last night i was presented with a gift ,a large fresh beetroot!
Woops ! I was in luck because Ihad bought French women dont get fat on the ferry and there was a recipie for beetroot soup which I adapted
I then used up the veg and a great bowl of tomatos in tartes and the other couple brought pud
Nearly missed the ferry the next day though

Fiona Beckett said...

Tricky business, those last nighters. Impressed that you made a soup from scratch though! And a slimming one too . . .