Man alive my family can buy food. I adore them and the love through food and shopping as I know it so well. But. Man alive.
But even before the hard working shopping habits of my family, I’d worked two events in a row. Here are the leftovers:
5 bags of sad chard/spinach; half a dozen frazzled peppers and fennel bulbs – HALF A DOZEN FENNEL BULBS. HALF A DOZEN.
My family is big-ish; my folks, 3 brothers, 3 sisters in law, 3 nephews/nieces, as well as my kids, partner and me. With a family weekend in Norfolk ahead and meals for 15 to get on the table, wasting any of this seemed daft.
So, I do what I know works. I plan. Write out what I’ve got, what plans we have for the week (so when do I have time to cook? Who’s out?) What do I have for breakfast, what do I need to buy specifically to get these meals on the table? When can I get to a shop? The self-employed countryside dweller needs to plan this last thing; time is money, baby.
On Monday morning, I thanked the gods of work that my ‘desk’ is the kitchen table and I could spend a couple of hours preserving some of this bounty. First: sad and slightly yellowing chard & spinach. No greens should be stored outside for too long, and Primrose Hill High Street on a hot, sunny Sunday was hardly ideal.
I followed an offline Riverford recipe for spinach, olive & feta tart. The greens were now preserved. The tart was prob a little heavier on the greens than intended, but my family don’t eat enough veg, so that’s fine by me.
But 6 fennel bulbs? And all a little tough and brown by now. And 3 kohlrabis, plus summer turnips. I don’t care what anyone says, summer turnips are bitter and nasty.
Pickles! Summer is salad and salads are lovely with some crunch. Kohlrabi & turnips are now turned into a condiment for, seemingly, every meal for ever and ever, but that’s fine & we’re loving all of them.
The terribly yellow celery, the final kohlrabi, brocolli stalks, wizzened carrots etc made me two jars of River Cottage souper mix. Without access to a food processor, this one would be a ball ache. With one, it took a few minutes and now I get to feel hella-smug.
I roasted the peppers and jarred them with some extra garlic, oregano and bay. Via the unlying evidence of my IG feed, pizza occurs here a lot, and these will be lovely on a pizza, with loads of parmesan, and something salty?
So far so awesome. I feel in control and worthy. That’s before half term.
Bank Holiday weekend in Norfolk as one of fifteen feeders/food panic people (“WHAT IF THEY DON’T BUY WHAT I LIKE? BUT WHAT IF I BUY ONLY A LITTLE AND THEN SOMEONE ELSE EATS IT? BUY TRIPLE JUST TO BE SURE”).
We brought home MORE food than we took away. And I forgot to cancel my veg box. So, last Tuesday = this much fresh food to eat…
Yes, that’s one (bumper) veg box. AND the veg leftover that we could feasibly eat. That doesn’t account for the two tubs of humus, 4 blocks of cheese, 1/2 a roast chicken, 4 burgers, packet of smoked salmon, prosciutto platter, dozen packets of crisps, 3 loaves of bread, two unopened packets of chocolate, one pizza. The Very Hungry Caterpillar would have a stroke.
Yes! Another plan:
After working out when we’re likely to be busy/quiet, I look at what’s sad (the mushrooms, mixed salad & cabbages). Start there. Too hot for dense field mushrooms, so I figure, dried mushrooms. Three hours later, 6 sweaty field mushrooms provide me with a lovely jar of dried mushrooms, ready for when it’s cold (so, June). The salad leaves are crap and are looking salmonella rich within a day of getting home, so I just feel glad at avoiding them usually. Nasty. The cabbages get the full hippie: sauerkraut.
The kraut looks nasty (and with these photography skills, I daren’t post). However, it doesn’t smell, so I figure it’s happy. The mushrooms are, just there.
So, from two weeks of craziness, I barely wasted anything. I could afford the new jars (£17!! I needed glass lids for the stock mix & kraut, so couldn’t go into my old jar stash), as well as the electricity to dry the mushrooms. A lot of these veg could be blanched and frozen, but my three drawer guy is full. These methods don’t represent solutions for everyone and every time, but I hope there are some simple ideas for you here. Let me know if there’s something you’d be interested to hear about. There are still a few leftovers in the fridge, but I’ve only had a small box arrive today. So, I’ll plan around my week (friends on Wednesday, meetings on Thursday, event on Saturday, school fête on Sunday), and stick with what works: