Lucie Loves... Food // How my Grandparents Waste less and Less more

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*Sponsored advertorial, in partnership with Sainsbury’s*

I’m really excited to be working with Sainsbury’s on their Waste less, Save more initiative. With food waste being one of the biggest environmental issues that we, as a society, face today, it is truly saddening to hear that seven million tonnes of food is being generated by households in the UK alone.

The life of a blogger (often affectionately interpreted as a ‘blagger’) can seem pretty ‘throw away’ at times. The clothes that we wear, the endless mountains of food that we Instagram, the places and experiences we capture on our phones to share with the world.

Each day millions of us churn out content of varying quality – be that self-initiated, downright inspired, suitably sponsored, topical and on-trend, serious as, or just plain old self-indulgent whiffle waffle. We continue to fill the web with our words of (questionable) wisdom, and I believe it’s high time we were held accountable, for the opinions and facts that we choose to share. Because that’s what it really boils down to: choice. There’s definitely a lot to be said with being more discerning. Less is more. Quality over quantity.

After being a blogger for almost 8 years now, I – like many of my close blogger friends – place more and more emphasis on producing meaningful content. Like them, integrity is of utmost importance to me – it always has been. Whether that means sharing content that is ‘meaningful’ to me as the producer – e.g. creating something that I can learn and grow from as I make it, in the hope that you as a reader will learn something too or being more choosey about the brand partnerships that I decide to feature on my blog.

It’s important to think about everything that we consume – particularly when it comes to media – social or otherwise, it can have a huge impact on our happiness and overall wellbeing. We all eat food; we need it as a means of survival, but it’s also one of the few pleasures that unite us, socially, and give us joy – as living creatures, on this planet we call earth.

Sainsbury’s is encouraging us Brits to speak to our families – our parents, and our grandparents – to ensure that we pass down these wonderful kitchen knowhow gems from generation to generation.

When we look at the things that need to be present in life to make us truly happy, it all boils down to Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs. If we’re ever going to climb that pyramid to self-actualization, and understand what it is that really drives us, what gives us purpose – we need to ensure that we tick all the other boxes first.

But, as opposed to just acting like a Gannet or Human Vacuum Cleaner – to fulfil our base physiological needs – there’s definitely something to be said for being more mindful about the food we eat. I’m not saying that we all need to turn Vegan – not by any stretch of the imagination – although it would be a LOT kinder on the planet. But, I enjoy my food (read as: meat and dairy) too much to give either of them up. Sorry. However, by applying mindfulness to what we eat, we can definitely cut back the amount/frequency of what and when we consume.

This weekend, I visited my grandparent’s up north, to learn how they – week after week – manage to feed our growing family’s hungry faces, without wasting any of the food they buy.

Sainsbury’s has invested £10million into the Waste less, Save more initiative to help shoppers reduce the amount of food wasted at home. Find out more about how you can reduce your household food waste at wastelesssavemore.sainsburys.co.uk

I accompanied my Grandparents, Betty & Eric, on their weekly shopping trip to Sainsbury’s in Warrington – to help them shop for our Sunday dinner essentials.

Sunday dinner day in my family is somewhat of an institution. For as long as I can remember, the last 31 years of my life, have had each weekend punctuated by this traditional family get together.

According to a Sainsbury’s report, a generation gap in attitudes towards food is contributing to the seven million tonnes of food waste generated by UK households every year.

When it comes to the value attached to food and ‘know-how’ in the kitchen, the stats highlight a stark contrast between those brought up when the post-war rationing mentality was prevalent, and those born in or after the mid-eighties.

Our family is so big that we can’t quite squeeze all of them in on the same day, so my aunties and uncles have to do alternate weekends. This weekend was no different.

Armed with a £100 Sainsbury’s gift card, my grandparents and I marched up the fruit and veg aisles and began the mammoth task of buying enough food to feed 12 ravenous adults and five growing children. I was panicking a bit, thinking that £100 might not actually be enough to fill all those hungry mouths… I was keen to see how my grandparents approach to food shopping differed from my own.

As Millennials, our lives are often driven by pleasure over necessity, which, in turn, makes us more ‘live to eat’ as opposed to our grandparents’ approach of ‘eat to live’.

My nan and grandad are well versed in cooking meals for multiple mouths and so never buy more than they need, when it comes to fresh groceries.

I, on the other hand, have a terrible habit of shopping when hungry, binge buying fresh fruit and veg – with the best of intentions – and then eating out multiple times in the week and forgetting about the meals I’d planned on cooking for myself… I’m too easily lured by offers to do food reviews and invitations out to dinner with friends…

There’s nothing sadder than a soggy bag of spinach, sitting in the bottom of your fridge. The Sainsbury’s research shows that of the £74 on average that we ‘live to eat’ folk spend a week on food, we actually end up binning 12% of what we buy – wasting around £461.76 on food that gets discarded instead of being eaten. In contrast, those who ‘eat to live’ waste £113.36 less each year, spending £67 per week and wasting 10% of the food they buy.

By cooking a lot of their meals from scratch, my grandparents are able to use things like the water from the boiled potatoes and veggies, and the juices from cooked meats, to make stock for soups and gravy.

What they bought and how they split the portions:

  • 1 x 2kg Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference beef - 3-4 slices per person
  • 1 x 2.5lb bag of Maris Piper potatoes - 1 large dollop per person
  • 1 bag of carrots (fresh) - approx. 6 batons per person
  • Sweetcorn (frozen) - 1 handful per person
  • Baby sweetcorn (fresh) - 3-4 per person
  • 3 x florets of broccoli (loose) - 2-3 pieces per person
  • 1 x bag of sprouts - 4-6 per person
  • 1 x bag of green beans - 4-5 per person
  • 1 x bag of roast parsnips - 4 batons per person
  • Chipolata-style sausages - 1-2 per person

+ store cupboard essentials: mustards, gravy browning, corn flour, salt & pepper, duck or goose fat for the roast potatoes (1 jar does 4 Sunday’s worth of roasties!)

To give you an idea of how much beef is needed to feed 10-12 adults, my grandad says that they always buy a piece of meat that costs around £18 (1.7kg - 2kg). Therefore, don’t supersize your meat UNLESS you can commit to using up the leftovers! When we got to Sainsbury’s on Saturday, we chose a piece that was priced about £19 and then, as we rounded to corner to the reduced meats section, we spotted a MASSIVE Taste the Difference cut of beef which was originally priced at £25.58 reduced to £19.99 – it was like it was meant to be!  

Another top tip, as told to me by my nan, is rather than buying little pigs-in-blankets-style sausages, buy a pack of skinny, normal-sized chipolata sausages, and then twist each one into three sections and cut, using kitchen scissors, before popping into the oven – cost-effective and better quality meat!

My nan and grandad also have an arrangement with one of their next door neighbours. Whenever they have fruit and vegetable peelings, they walk them round to Jim’s, who then feeds them to his hens. In exchange for re-gifting the peel in this way, my nan and grandad are given fresh eggs each week. How about that for community spirit!

And if – and it’s big IF – there’s any food left over, it gets given to my aunty Gill and uncle Julian, as a treat for their dog, Dexter.

We’re always spoilt for choice with an array of homemade desserts. This Sunday we had: homemade steamed chocolate sponge pudding, homemade steamed syrup sponge pudding, homemade lemon meringue (as requested by my cousin, Holl – who sings in the band, The Nylon Hearts) Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference vanilla cheesecake and last but not least, some homemade jam tarts. My grandad is the pudding chef in the house – take a look at his home-made profiteroles recipe. It’s a firm family favourite!

The cost of all the ingredients for the Sunday roast came to under £5 per head. Remarkable, really! There’s nowhere on earth that you could treat 12 adults to a delicious Sunday roast for under £60. But by cooking themselves at home, and shopping wisely, they were able to do it!

What recipes have been passed down from your relatives for re-using leftovers? Do you,  like my friend Rachel’s granny Barbara, make mushroom dauphinois – a real wartime fave: leftover potatoes, heinz mushroom soup, chopped onions and salt and pepper – layered up and then cooked for two hours in the oven on a low heat… Mmm!

My Nan and Grandad use any leftover beef for beef and pickle sandwiches the next day, and enjoy a second helping of dessert for afters!

Watch this space for more Waste Less, Save more updates! And please share your own family money-saving food tips and recipes.

Photography © Lucie Kerley