Eat & Drink

How To Reduce Food Waste, Save Money And Eat Like A King (Or Queen)

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How To Reduce Food Waste, Save Money And Eat Like A King (Or Queen)

Eat & Drink

Taking part in a zero waste cookery class has made Noora Parssinen think differently about food waste.

Noora Parssinen

Thu 7 Jan 2021

Like delicious food that doesn’t break the bank? Us too.

Want to be kind to the planet? We’re with you.

Think food shouldn’t be wasted but struggle to find use for all those potatoes lurking in the bottom of the fridge? We’ve been there, too.

Consequently, I was really excited to find out about Cookery School’s new ‘Waste Matters’ class where you learn to make utterly tasty dishes out of food items that UK households often end up chucking in the bin.

The ‘Waste Matters’ class might be new but it isn’t The Cookery School’s first step on the journey to sustainability. In fact, the Cookery School is the only London cookery school awarded the maximum three stars for sustainability from The Sustainable Restaurant Association so these chefs know what they’re talking about.

Food waste cooking with the cookery school

Who doesn't love delicious warm banana bread?

Image Emma Walton @supperinthesuburbs

Did you know that nearly half of the edible fresh potatoes bought by UK households are wasted?

This means that 5.8 million spuds end up in bins instead of bellies every day.

Unfortunately, the staggering figures don’t end there.

In the UK, 24 million slices of bread are thrown away by households every day making bread the most wasted household food item.

We feel you, these numbers are anything but easy to digest.

When we throw away food, we’re not only wasting the few sad potatoes, that overripe banana or few stale slices of bread but we’re wasting all the resources that went into producing and transporting that food.

Overall, if food waste was a country, it would be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world after US and China. Makes you think twice before chucking those spotty bananas, doesn’t it?

The good news is that your days of binning food can come to a stop.

Food waste cookery lesson

Do you know what you can turn these into?

Image Emma Walton @supperinthesuburbs

Earlier this month I joined the ‘Waste Matters’ class and learned to make magic out of simple ingredients such as potatoes, bread and wilted veggies.

One of the main takeaways from the class was that as long as you have a couple of things in your fridge and a few pieces of bread, stale or not, you can eat like a king.

Don’t look down on those wonky carrots, cauliflower leaves, wilted leeks or beetroots that are less than firm.

With a few chops, drizzle of oil, a pinch (or few) of salt and a bit of time, you’ll have delicious crispy, roasted vegetables, vegetable stock and a tasty soup in your hands.

Throw some potatoes, onions, a grater and a small scoop of flour in to the mix and you’ll be rewarded with dreamy potato cakes.

Those spotty, brown bananas? Those fellas can be turned into a scrummy banana bread. Stale pieces of bread lend themselves perfectly to both sweet and savoury bread pudding.

Make banana bread from food waste

The banana is one of the most thrown away foods in our kitchens

Image Emma Walton @supperinthesuburbs

Milk going off soon? Fret not, that can be used to make béchamel sauce that takes your pasta bake to another level.  

Even though I’m vegan, I went home happy and with one very full belly.

The class covers a huge range of tasty dishes but you don’t have to create them all yourself. We were paired up and we each tackled different food waste wonders over the three hour class.

Every once in a while, everyone gathered to learn about an important phase of cooking a particular dish, so I learnt about how to make them even though I didn’t have to whip them all up myself. The lovely chefs from Cookery School were on hand with tips and hints to make my potato cakes, banana bread and sauces even better. There’s certainly no judgement here, just lots of encouragement.

As well as getting to whip up delicious food that saves waste from the bin, Cookery School share tips on storing food (your freezer is your best friend people).

This autumn save some money, reduce your carbon footprint and learn how to turn simple ingredients into something super tasty and satisfying. And if you want me, I’ll be whipping up some more vegan friendly banana bread.

Click here for more information on Cookery School’s ‘Waste Matters’ class. 

3 super useful food waste recipes (for using up veg, milk and potatoes)

Potato cakes

Makes 15

  • 1kg/2.5lb potatoes - not the waxy kind
  • 2 large onions

  • 2 eggs 
(If you’re vegan, you can just leave the eggs out – they’re not necessary)
  • 2 tablespoons of flour/potato flour
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper
  • 125ml/5ozs rapeseed oil for baking
  • Cinnamon to taste


Peel and, using a coarse grater, grate the potatoes. 
Using your hands, squeeze all the liquid out of the grated potatoes so that they are quite dry and 
place in a clean bowl. 

Peel and grate the onions on a coarse grater too. If very liquid-y strain off excess liquid. 
Add the grated onions to the grated potatoes in the bowl. 

Add the eggs, salt, pepper, flour and cinnamon to the potato/onions in bowl and mix together well. 

Taking a handful of mix at a time, form into flat round patties. 

Pour the rapeseed oil into a baking tray, place in oven heated to 225oC and allow the oil to heat - 
not until smoking but until it is good and warm and shimmery. Then carefully place the patties in 
the hot oil. 

Place in the oven and cook for about 40 minutes as they need to cook through and brown well. 
Turn once during cooking so that both sides of the patties are a gorgeous golden brown. 

When baked, place on kitchen towel to remove any surplus oil. 
Patties are delicious served with apple sauce and sour cream, smetana or creme fraiche. 

3 Super Useful Recipes To Use Up Food Waste

Have you ever made potato cakes?

Image Emma Walton @supperinthesuburbs

Bechamel sauce

Use as basis for cheese sauces, bechamel in lasagne or merely as topping for any dish requiring white sauce or bechamel. 

  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 4 tablespoons rapeseed oil
  • 2 cups milk (1 pint/500ml)
  • Salt, to taste

  • Good pinch nutmeg
  • Ground black pepper


Mix the flour and oil together in a saucepan . Gradually add the milk and seasoning. 

Place saucepan over heat and stir constantly until the sauce is thickened. 
Continue cooking for a few minutes longer to ensure that all the starch is properly cooked. 

Crispy roast vegetables

  • 1kg/2.5 lbs any leftover veg of choice
  • 75ml/3ozs olive oil

  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper
  • Dried or fresh herbs e.g. rosemary or oregano


Divide the leftover vegetables into root veg, harder veg and soft veg as they all cook at different rates. They need to be cooked in batches starting with the veg that require longest cooking times. 

Place these first veg on a baking tray. 

Mix together the crushed garlic and olive oil and pour over the veg, ensuring that all are well coated. 
Season well with salt, pepper and herbs if desired and mix all together well. 

Place in oven 200oC/190oF for about half an hour to 45 minutes or until softened. 

Then add the next batch of softer veg and toss together to coat with oil and herbs. 
 Roast again for another quarter of an hour. 

Finally add the soft veg, mix in well and return to the oven. 
Bake until all the veg are browned and crisp. 

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