Reduce Food Waste - Sept's Top Tips



Shopping for food– what to buy?  How much is enough? The advice is - Do it the French way!

The well-known, Belfast-born chef, Trish Deseine has made her culinary name in France where she has lived for twenty five years. She offered her take on the French way of food shopping in an article in the Irish Times magazine on 8th September, 2012.  Her weekly shop guidelines are among the best avoid-food-waste tips we’ve come across.  With the kind permission of IT magazine editor, Marie-Claire Digby we reproduce the main points of  Trish’s  article below.


Do a weekly shop - Swap breakfast cereals, sodas, processed food, cakes, sweets and crisps for the best quality, fresh, Irish where possible, ingredients, buying enough for six or seven days at a time.

Fill your trolley with this sort of thing:

  • One large piece of meat, fish, or a chicken, for stewing/braising/slow roasting, plus it may give you leftovers for sandwiches etc.
  • One piece of meat or fish for quick cooking for salads, stir fries.
  • Two portions per person of about five sorts of vegetables. A maximum of two starchy ones, and always salad leaves. In bags is fine.
  • One or two portions per person of about four or five sorts of fruit.
  • One portion per person of soft cheese for salads, open sandwiches, quiches
  • One piece of hard cheese for grating, pasta, pesto, sandwiches.
  • About two free-range eggs per person.
  • Full-fat yoghurts or fromage frais, a mix of plain and fruit
  • Real butter – about 200g for five or six people
  • Fresh full-fat or half-fat milk.
  • Some bacon, sausages, cooked or cured ham for salads, pasta, stir fries.

* Stock your kitchen with basics that keep well, provide a cheap, filling base for quick weekday meals, will vary and boost the taste of your cooking, and top it up regularly. Here’s what I always have in mine. Lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, pasta, porridge oats. Tinned tuna, sardines and tomatoes. Frozen beans, peas, sweetcorn and broccoli. Cashews. Fresh celery, mushrooms, lemons, oranges, onions, garlic, potatoes. Ketchup, miso, anchovies, curry paste, harissa, olives, chutney. Olive oil, mustard, vinegar, honey, maple syrup. Unrefined sugar, flour, chocolate, vanilla, salt and pepper.


* Sitting down for (reasonably sized) meals together is the single most important thing the French do to eat enjoyably and healthily.

* Serve fruit, vegetables and/or salad with every meal.

* Make one fancier, more time consuming meal (at the weekend, perhaps), with lots of leftovers. Slow cooking is great for cheaper cuts and a good chicken can be stretched to several meals.

* Make one faster meal with steamed or grilled meat, fish or chicken.

* Make very fast, very simple, non-meat things the rest of the time. Have sardines on toast, or boil an egg. Serve pulses, pasta or quinoa simply with sauteed onions and mushrooms and spices. They’re cheap and good for you.

* Make only one dessert and/or bake a cake or biscuits once a week.

* Make a soup or curry, quiche or gratin with the vegetables left towards the end of the week.

* Top up on fresh bread and milk throughout the week if you need to.

* Gradually try out new dishes, building your repertoire of recipes as you go.

* Try to use everything up, then start again – the vegetables might be a struggle at first. Don’t worry, you’re in it for the long haul, and after all, it’s only your dinner.

 Bon appétit!

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