Category Archives: Food scrap meals

These recipes are devised using ingredients you’d usually throw away. They are delicious and inventive and will change the way you view your food waste bin.

Free apples across Oxford

If there’s one thing I hate it’s WASTE!!

Dene Road apple tree There are many hungry people all over the World – including Oxford. Yet on average, a family with children spends £680 every year on food that ends up in the bin. Nearly half of what is thrown away is fresh fruit and vegetables.

One way to help us value our food and minimise waste is to grow our own. Somehow slaving away in the garden, lovingly nurturing plants makes you appreciate how genuinely amazing nature is. It’s far harder to throw away a squished tomato that your child has sown from seed and endearingly cared for.

However, we’re not all lucky enough to possess a garden, and this is where foraging comes into play. Getting out on a sunny autumnal day and spending an hour or so picking gloriously wildly grown fruit, followed by cooking up a delicious apple pie, is one of the most satisfying sense of achievements a child can experience.

Where to find free fruit

Apple and blackberry crumble1) Nosey in your neighbours gardens.
It’d be a shame to let some juicy apples or brambles go to waste just because your neighbour doesn’t know what to do with them. You could offer a crumble in return for some free pickings.

2) Public parks in Oxford.
At the moment parks are brimming with apple trees, yet the fruit goes to waste. Don’t be scared pick away and put the fruit to good use. We’ve got a glorious apple tree in the park at the end of our road in Headington. The apples taste yummy!

3) Foraging maps
If you search on google for where to forage, you’ll often find plenty of information on public picking spots. Just click the link here to find one for Oxfordshire.

Happy pickings!!

Leftover veg Flat bread with Broad bean Mash

Leftover veg flatbread and broadbean mashThis recipe is perfect picnic food. Early Summer Broad beans make a lovely healthy dip and a good alternative to hummus that children and adults love. Plus the bread can be made by using any sad looking vegetables that have been forgotten at the back of the fridge. I used a savoy cabbage that I’d lost inspiration for, but you could easily use spring greens, beetroot, carrots or parsnips instead.

Cabbage has been touted as one of the worlds healthiest foods! It contains cancer fighting properties as well as the ability to lower cholesterol. Although it may make some people a bit windy, the juice of a cabbage has shown to cure stomach ulcers. We should all be including it in our diet every week.

For this recipe take 250g of grated cabbage (or any vegetable you prefer). Squeeze out as much moisture as possible and add 80g of plain flour, 1 egg, 1 tbsp of sunflower seeds, 30g of soft cheese and 2 tbsp of freshly chopped herbs from the garden such as rosemary, thyme or parsley.

Once combined, split the dough into 6 parts. Line a tray with baking paper, take a piece of dough and squash it onto the baking paper with a spatula or your fingers until it is a flat bread shape. Do this with 2 other pieces of dough and bake in the oven for 20 minutes on gas mark 5, 190C, 375F until golden brown.

Repeat with the last 3 pieces of dough. In the mean time shell 3 cups of broad beans, steam them for 5 minutes and blend them with a clove of garlic, some lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper. When done, allow the bread to cool a little and serve with the Broad bean mash, some spring onions and cherry tomatoes. Delicious! Or store in the fridge and pop in the toaster when you’re ready to eat it.

Asparagus ENDS – mini quiche

Asparagus endsIt always make me sad when the asparagus season comes to an end. We’ve been picking our own from Rectory Farm at every opportunity. But there are many other PYO’s in Oxfordshire doing the same and all of them are worth a visit – read more on that here.

Towards the end of the season the asparagus ends begin to get tough. Not one for throwing things away I’ve been thinking about a recipe I could devise that uses up these delicious and nutritious ends that would have previously gone in the bin. I found that if you chop them up finely and sauté them in a little butter with onion and garlic, that they make a delicious quiche filling. If you got any leftover cheese – a scattering on top really makes these mini mouthfuls a wonderful summers picnic treat.

Here’s the recipe which makes 12 mini quiches

Asparagus ends mini quiche2oz/50g butter
4oz/100g plain flour
2fl oz milk
2 eggs
1 small onion
1 garlic clove
10 asparagus ends
50g cheese, grated

Method – Rub together the butter and flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add a few tsp of water and combine until you have a nice ball of pastry. Cover with cling film and put the pastry in the fridge to chill for about 10 minutes.

Slice the asparagus ends into small disks and gently fry in a little butter or olive oil with a finely chopped white onion and some crushed garlic. This should take about 5 minutes. In a jug, whist the eggs and milk together and season with salt and pepper. Grate the cheese.

Roll out the pastry very thinly on a floured surface. Cut out circles from your pastry large enough to fit the muffin tin. Using some extra butter, grease your tins, and then sprinkle on a little flour. Gently press in a circle of pasty in to each space.

put a tsp of grated cheese at the bottom of each one. then add a little of the asparagus / onion filling. Now fill up the cases with the egg and milk mixture.

Cook for 12 – 15 minutes on 220C, 350F or Gas Mark 7. Allow to cook before removing, then serve with a fresh leaf salad. Yummy!

5 easy ways to use up leftover rice

Rice is a food staple for half the world’s population, yet in the West, we seem to value it so lightly. Of all the rice cooked at home in the UK, we throw away a massive 40,000 tonnes every year….what a waste!!

Furthermore, when you throw out 1kg of rice you’re also wasting over 2000 litres of water if you take into consideration the amount of water needed to grow and obviously cook it.

That said, I don’t think I have ever cooked the exact amount of rice the family needs. Mainly because I’m never sure how much is going to be eaten, and also because there are actually many great frugal and delicious things you can do with leftover rice. Okay, here goes…..

leftover rice stuffed peppers1. Stuffed Mediterranean Veg. I use leftover rice for stuffing peppers, courgettes and aubergines. It’s great for getting mince to go further. Mix it with some fresh thyme, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper, layer on top with a smattering of cheese and bake in the oven. It’s also great for stuffing vine leaves – or just some dark green blanched cabbage leaves when you’re on a budget! Delicious dipped in home-hummus.

2. Make Arancini, which are Sicilian fried rice balls (recipe here). They are absolutely delicious and a budget show stopper for a dinner party. Children love them too.

home made rice milk3. Rice Milk – If you are cow’s milk intolerant, you’ll know that alternative milks can get pretty pricey. A litre of rice milk can set you back £1.50 in the shops, but you can make it for just 6p. All you need is a cup of rice, a litre of water and a blender – blend for a good few minutes, add a drop of vanilla essences, strain and keep in a jug in the fridge.

Leftover Rice pizza crust4. Rice Pizza Crust. Here’s an awesome cheap and gluten free recipe for a rice pizza crust – it uses leftover rice, an eggs to bind and cheese to flavour the base, you bake it before adding your favourite toppings. Delicious and cheap!

5. Leftover Rice pudding. Of course, this is an obvious one…a simple and cheap pudding for all the family. Add raisins or chocolate shavings to make it decadent. Here’s a good recipe to follow.

A note of caution. We’re all told not to eat re-heated rice – but actually, it’s not the reheating that causes the problem, but the way the rice has been stored before it was reheated. Here’s what the NHS website says on how to eat leftover rice safely.

How does reheated rice cause food poisoning?

Uncooked rice can contain spores of Bacillus cereus, a bacterium that can cause food poisoning. When the rice is cooked, the spores can survive. If the rice is left standing at room temperature, the spores can grow into bacteria. These bacteria will multiply and may produce toxins that cause vomiting or diarrhoea. The longer cooked rice is left at room temperature, the more likely it is that the bacteria or toxins could make the rice unsafe to eat.

Tips on serving rice safely

  • ideally, serve rice as soon as it has been cooked
  • if that isn’t possible, cool the rice as quickly as possible (ideally within one hour)
  • keep rice in the fridge for no more than one day until reheating
  • when you reheat any rice, always check that the dish is steaming hot all the way through
  • do not reheat rice more than once



Chicken soup cures a cold…and is good for the soul!

Apologies for the lack of posts this last week. I’ve been ill in bed with the flu!

Chicken noodle soup cures a coldI haven’t been this unwell for over two years, when we were packing up our life in London, moving home, country and continent to live in Africa for four months.

All the stress of London living and the busy schedules got to me and I ended up with a chest infection that lasted most of our Ugandan trip.

Thankfully, this time round I’m in wonderful peaceful Oxford, where I can put my feet up and rest for the entire bank holiday weekend secure in the knowledge that my friends understand that I’m too sick to be my usual sociable self.

And to help me on the mend there’s nothing better than a large bowl of steaming hot chicken broth noodle soup to get me back into fine spirits.

According to scientific research, there is more to chicken broth than just a cold comfort. In fact, home made chicken stock contains the compound carnosine which helps the body’s immune system fight flu. I love adding other extra viral fighters – including plenty of garlic, ginger and greens – to create an all in one health elixir.

Chicken soup is not only good for the body and soul, it’s cheap to make too. Simply simmer your leftover roast chicken bones with two pints of water, a chopped onion, 2 garlic cloves, celery sticks, bay leaves and salt and pepper for about 2 hours. Strain off the bones. To the stock add a portion of your favourite noodles, a tablespoon of grated ginger and another of grated garlic plus a handful of greens and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Serve in a generous bowl with a sprinkling of soy sauce to season. Absolutely delicious. I can feel my sinuses clearing already!

Dandelion leaves and their culinary uses!

Melissa picking dandelionsIn many countries across the world dandelion leaves are considered a delicious and nutritious vegetable consumed for their high content of vitamins, minerals and iron, as well as their medicinal qualities. However, in the UK they are usually considered an irksome weed and pulled or poisoned out of the lawn.

They are potassium-rich and have a strong diuretic quality, that is fantastic at helping lower blood pressure. They have long been used to treat digestive disorders as well as arthritis and eczema.

In the Mediterranean, many people pick the tender dandelion leaves that emerge in early spring to use in salads, soups, or as a sautéed side dish. There, you can even buy cultivated dandelions which still have the same unique bitter and peppery flavour in many of the local grocery stores.

Foraging for dandelionsIn the UK, they are in abundance at this time of year. In fact they seem to be taking over our lawn. So my husband Alex set aside an afternoon to de-dandelion our garden, and I dutifully researched ways to use the FREE lush greens to make some healthy meals.

We added some to our favourite frugal curry recipe, and used them as a substitute for spinach in Saag Aloo. We intermingled them with other leaves to make a fresh salad and reserved some for blending with cheese and nuts to make an iron rich pesto.

But my favourite recipe was simply sautéed in garlic with a sprinkling of lemon juice! Here’s how –


1 Large Bunch Dandelion Leaves
4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
1 Large Clove of Garlic


Freshly picked dandelion leavesRemove any brown ends and rinse the dandelion leaves really well.
Squeeze out the excess water and cut into pieces.
In a large, heavy saucepan or frying pan, add the leaves, crushed garlic clove, and the oil.
Sauté for 10 minutes or until the greens are soft and tender.
Season with salt and pepper and serve with a sprinkling of lemon juice.
They go really well with any meat or fish dish.

These beautiful cauliflower leaves usually end up in the bin

Leftover cauliflower leavesUnless you own a rabbit, these beautiful cauliflower leaves usually end up in the bin. But next time you’re making a cauliflower cheese don’t trough the leaves away. Instead buy a cauliflower that hasn’t been trimmed and try out this tasty and economical soup.

Here’s the recipe:
Take the outer leaves from two medium heads of cauliflower and roughly chop them. Arrange them on a baking tray with some par-boiled parsnips, potatoes or carrots – basically whatever you have in the fridge that needs using up.

Roasting cauliflower leaves for soupPlace a couple of cloves of garlic in the baking tray and sprinkle with salt, pepper and herbs of your choice. I like to use thyme and oregano sometimes, but also love a sprinkling of garam masala and a couple of chilli’s depending on my mood. Roast on a medium heat for 30 minutes until the vegetables are caramelizing nicely.

Whilst the vegetables are roasting, sauté a white onion in 25g of butter. Add 2 pints of vegetable or chicken stock, and if you’ve got any, the leftover rind from a Stilton or Parmesan cheese. I also like to through in some the rind of half a lemon – as this intensifies the flavour of the cheese and vegetables. Simmer everything together for 30 minutes.

Cauliflower leaves and cheese soupOnce the vegetables are roasted and the stock has had time to simmer, squeeze out the contents of the roasted garlic and add it and the vegetables to the stock. Remove the rind, and lemon skin (or what is left of it) and blend everything into a smooth soup. Serve with home made bread. Delicious and beautifully economical.