Eight tips for zero-waste cooking from Jack Monroe – Advice Eating

Jack Monroe Credit: PA Photo/Jack Monroe

Jack Monroe’s mission is to help people living in poverty eat well — and waste less.

With climate fears and the cost of living crisis dominating the headlines, leaving many families fearful about the future, activist, chef and writer Jack Monroe is trying to change the way we eat – with an eye on waste.

They’ve teamed up with Twitter to create a thread accessible to everyone on the platform to highlight recipes that use up common household waste. It comes after Monroe shared a blog post last week criticizing the current online discourse on money-saving cooking.

Monroe wrote: “In the run-up to #WorldEarthDay, I’m working with Twitter UK to share my zero-waste recipes and create a #NoWasteCookbook of sorts – a collection of recipes and ideas right here on Twitter. Starting with five of my favorite recipes using some of the UK’s most wasted food…”

Here are some of the best tips being shared:

1. Prepare packaged salad pesto

“One of the most thrown away products in the UK is pre-packaged salad,” says Monroe. “You can make it into a pesto with just a handful of simple ingredients. Use it on pasta, potato salads, soups or sandwiches, or cheese on toast.”

If you’ve bought lettuce for a BBQ or dinner party and find it’s not popular, it’s a great idea to mix it up and use it as a delicious topping. Prepared salad is expensive for what it is, so there’s no point in wasting good veggies and hard-earned money.

2. Turn stale bread into a nutritious soup

We’re probably all guilty of buying a loaf of bread and forgetting it, or even sinfully throwing away the crusty tops and bottoms of your bloomers.

Monroe shares, “Another commonly wasted item is bread. Whether it’s the ends of the loaf of bread, stale pieces or the cut crust from sandwiches, or even leftover garlic bread, turn it into [a] delicious soup with only three pantry ingredients.”

Your Pappa al Pomodoro recipe only calls for garlic, oil, herbs, and a packet of tomatoes (alongside your stale breadcrumbs). Fry the garlic, add the tomatoes, water and herbs and let simmer. Finally, add the bread and let it rest (covered) for at least half an hour so that the bread absorbs all the flavor.

3. Use mashed apples instead of eggs to make bread

“And what about the apples that are past their prime?” asks Monroe. “Instead of eggs, you can also use applesauce when baking because the pectin acts as a binder, like in this (vegan, by the way) apple bread.”

Who knew applesauce could be so useful?

4. From sour milk to soda bread

“Milk is slightly sour or slightly curdled? Don’t throw it away!” says Monroe. “Mix it up with flour, bicarbonate of soda, and a drop of vinegar for a no-knead, no-equipment soda bread. If you’ve never baked bread before, this is a great place to start!”.

Irish soda bread is delicious and filling, especially with a little butter or cheese, and Monroe’s sour milk version is a cheap and easy way to waste less and try something new.

5. Use banana peel in banana bread

That’s right, if you’re using brown bananas for a lockdown-era banana bread, you don’t have to discard the skins.

Monroe says, “Wash them in cold, lightly salted water to remove all the pesticides, and they’re perfectly edible! Slightly bananay, slightly bitter, excellent blended into banana bread!”

6. Cookies get soft? You have a buttery base

A follower raised concerns about wasting cookies that were past their prime. “None of us eat them when they get soft,” smiley_pockets posted.

Monroe’s advice? “Flash them up and mix them up with some butter (or Marge), press them into the bottom of a small glass, top with softened cream cheese mixed with some fine sugar, a dollop of jam, and you instantly have a messy cheesecake .”

7. Wrap cucumbers in tea towels

And when it comes to pickles and other salads, there’s a simple trick to keeping them fresher longer.

“I tend to wrap mine tightly in a kitchen towel or very clean tea towel before putting it in the fridge – it seems to absorb some of the excess moisture, which keeps it fresher longer. You can do the same thing with lettuce and herbs,” says Monroe.

8. Hug broccoli stalks

Many people throw away broccoli stalks, but we’re missing out on valuable fiber.

“Either finely slice and sauté in a pan instead of water chestnuts, or dice and sauté, then toss through noodles (or puree into a smooth sauce and do the same) with lemon, chili and garlic and lots of pepper,” says Monroe. “I love broccoli stalks – I buy extra stalks on purpose.”

For more of Jack Monroe’s zero-waste recipes, visit her website cookonabootstrap.com.

Leave a Comment