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Curb your food waste with creative cooking

Author: Cllr Neden Watts
Title: Vice-chair, Environment, Sustainability, Culture and Sports Services Committee

Since lockdown began, we have heard from our waste collectors that more waste is being presented by households. The teams are doing their best to tackle this and continue the essential waste and recycling services, but there are things we as residents can do to help.


One of those is for each household to reduce waste by using other methods of disposal, such as a compost heap or compost bin in the garden. It can be quite small. Vegetable peelings, tea leaves and bags and banana skins can all go on this home heap, as can a certain amount of torn up cardboard (e.g. toilet roll inner tubes) and torn or shredded paper, which add body to the future compost. You can add grass clippings and trimmings from the garden as well.


If you don’t have space for a compost heap, and your property is served by the council’s food waste service, then use your food caddy (you can order a food waste caddy). The small caddy can sit on a work top or sill, and you can check the website for the list of acceptable inclusions. If you have no compost heap, put your fruit and veg offcuts and teabags in the caddy. You can also add cooked food but avoid adding liquids including liquid fats. You mustn’t add plastic. But you can use a compostable liner if it helps keep things cleaner.


Avoid food waste by putting freezable items straight into the freezer rather than the fridge, if you think you might not use them at once. Or you can freeze items right up to the best before date if you notice it is getting close. If, unfortunately, something goes off in the package, remember to separate the food from the packaging, which might also be recyclable, and put the inedible food into the food waste, not the general waste. This makes it less unpleasant for the refuse collectors, and less attractive to foxes.


A more positive action is to challenge yourself to keep your household food waste to an absolute minimum. Get crafty with leftovers and turn them into the next hearty meal.

Yesterday, for example, a half pan of wholemeal spaghetti and cooked frozen veg was added to a fried chopped onion, some mushy tomatoes, hot chilli and garlic, and chickpeas from the fridge (prepared previously by soaking and boiling an only just out-of-date old packet from the back of the cupboard). The whole lot was stirred together with a splash of stock (or use water or wine), plus pepper and salt. (A tin of tomatoes, if we had one, would have been good too). Laid in an oven dish and topped with a generous amount of grated cheese of some sort, cooked at 180 degrees for half an hour until bubbling hot all the way through, then eaten all up. Not a glamorous recipe for a first date but a nice, homely supper.


Colleagues from across the Council will be coming up with their imaginative and possibly more elegant leftovers recipes in due course; why not share yours with us as well? Make sure you tag it #RichmondGetsCreative.

Updated: 22 April 2020

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