In the past couple of months I have worked with Green City Events and Cynefin Cardiff to deliver two cooking workshops and a roadshow to help the kind people of Roath to find ways to reduce their food waste. We have done this in the process of delivering the Love Food Hate Waste Campaign  in Cardiff supported by Wrap Cymru.
The week after our last cooking workshop on 21 February I decided to practice what I preach and took my own personal Love Food Hate Waste challenge. I pledged to shop very little food (apart from fresh essentials) and to eat what is already in my cupboards and freezer for the most part of the week.
The challenge was a great creative success and I saved around £30 as I only bought small quantities of milk, some cheese and some salad to complement the meals we made.
The meal I was most proud of that week was a Mexican spice inspired vegetable dish made from frozen cauliflower, quorn mince and spinach (all commonly kept in my freezer), the leftover greens that we did not use at the cooking workshop on 21 February, the final two spoons of yoghurt, a tin of black beans from my essentials’ pantry and the last cup of couscous from that bag that we have not eaten for ages. Not only did that dish give us dinner and lunch the next day, I actually froze a couple of portions in anticipation of the busy week that followed.
During my challenge I looked carefully through my cupboards and my freezer. For example, I thawed just over half a kilo of meatball mix that was leftover from one of our supper clubs and made a linguini ragú with which gave us a couple of meals for two and another frozen meal.
At the Love Food Hate Waste workshops we aimed to empower people to make personal and household changes to their food consumption and wastage. Lots of people seemed worried about getting a recipe right or that they couldn’t cook with random ingredients. So hopefully through making different mixed vegetable Ribollita soups with various herbs and whatever vegetable was available to us at the same workshop we empowered participants to be creative and daring in adapting recipes to what they have or can afford. Experimenting is the way!
I would definitely recommend Eat-What-You-Have weeks like mine as they will help you sort through your cupboards and freezer. Making shopping lists or using the online Love Food Hate Waste App on your smart phone can help you loads with shopping and meal planning. And if you fancy being inspired by seasonal ingredients or what is on offer, why not browse www.lovefoodhatewaste.com for ideas.
One of the most useful tips I could give you to save food and money is to be aware of what you already store in our cupboards before heading back to the shops. Also storing food correctly, e.g. labelling it, using airtight containers or keeping your fridge temperature low will make you yield more meals from what you buy. Using your freezer more and keeping it tidy is another step to help you achieve this by prepping food in advance, storing the right amount of frozen basics or storing extra portions from meals.
The whole process of this project has made me think long and hard about food waste and food poverty. According to the Trussell Trust the number of people using food banks has almost tripled since last year. And whilst this is because of the increase in the number of food banks set up, a noteworthy effort to help an increasing number of people in need, I cannot reconcile this fact with the amount of food still being wasted in the UK. It is estimated that we still throw away 7 million tons of food and drink a year. This is food is costing all of us £12.5bn each year.
Today I was reading about France’s Good Samaritans law which protects those helping someone in need or peril from being sued or accused if something goes wrong. It is important to protect public health and to minimise risk for people in the food sector. But I wonder, would the introduction of a ‘good Samaritan’ legal principle in the UK encourage all of us personally as well as larger corporations or small (food) businesses to do more to address food poverty or to donate food that we would have otherwise wasted?
 Love Food Hate Waste is a campaign that has been running since 2007 and run by WRAP, a well-established not-for profit company that is responsible for a lot of good work in on resource efficiency and waste reduction across the UK.
Have you ever looked at vegetable leftovers in your fridge or the seasonal mix in your vegetable boxes and thought: ‘What could I make with this?’. Have you every thrown away cooked vegetable leftovers? If yes this soup is for you. If not the soup is still for you so try it anyway.
In the past month I have been working with Green City Events to deliver the Love Food Hate Waste Cities Campaign in Cardiff through Roath based roadshows and cooking workshops. In this process I have been developing and revisiting recipes that can help people be savvy and healthy.
The lovely soups of Ribollita and Minestrone were my natural first choices because they are very easy to make and they can have as many variations as the people who make them.
Ribollita literally means reboiled in Italian. It is a Tuscan soup that uses leftover cooked vegetable and is eaten with stale toasted or grilled bread. You can make Ribollita with any seasonal vegetable at our disposal but the dominant ingredient should be a mix of greens and you should include some kind of cooked bean.
My Ribollita soup can be easily turned to a Minestrone with the addition of more stock or water and pasta or quinoa. This is a great solution if you have less vegetable or more visitors to feed.
On 7 February 2015 at our first Love Food Hate Waste cooking workshop participants prepared four different versions of Ribollita and Minestrone types of soup using different herbs to flavour it, different grains or pasta and mix of vegetables at their disposal. Why not love food and your leftover vegetable too by trying our soup?
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 celery stick
300 mixed greens
- 150-200 g left over root vegetable/squash or potato
- 2 carrots (around 160g)
- 4 Garlic cloves
- ½-1 tin chopped tomatoes Or a couple of ripe tomatoes chopped
- 1 can beans drained and washed
- (280g) 50g rice/quinoa Or 100g pasta 2lt stock or boiling water
- Herbs of your choice such as: 10-15 leaves of basil 1 teaspoon oregano Or 2 teaspoons thyme 3 bay leaves Salt & Pepper
- Pecorino or parmesan cheese garnish (optional)
- Wash and chop all your vegetable and greens.
- Sauté the onion with a pinch of salt until translucent.
- Add the garlic and herbs and sauté for a few minutes.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and sauté for another few minutes.
- Add the root vegetable or potatoes and carrot and stir fry for a bit.
- Add the stock and simmer for ten minutes.
- Add the beans, greens and pasta and simmer for another 10 minutes.
- If you are using quinoa and rice add at the same time as the stock.
- Seasons with salt and pepper.
Lia’s Tips: the authentic ribollita uses recooked vegetable which you can add towards the end of the soup. Sage and parsley are another great combination of herbs for this soup. Kale, Cavolo Nero, flower sprouts, brussels sprouts, broccoli stalks and spring greens are some of the delicious leafs that you can add to your soup.