A study carried out by 'Wrap', the UK's waste and recycling advisory body, estimated that up to 4.4 million of the 7.3 million tonnes of household food waste thrown away per year could be perfectly edible, prior to it being chucked in the bin! According to an article in the Guardian, this results in an average UK household wasting £470 worth of food per year.
Be it a lack of interest, or lack of education, after small families it is students who, on average, are one of the worst offenders when it comes to wasting food, despite stereotypes of lifestyles reliant on beans on toast and ready meals. Here at Mr Lee's we've been supporting our local Sustainable Food Cities (SFC) initiative, a cross-sector partnership of local public agencies, businesses, academics and NGOs who are actively working together to push the importance of healthy and sustainable food to their local communities, in trying to address this.
The goal we share with SFC is to encourage and educate students not only to eat healthier, but also to eat smarter. Myth dictates that healthy eating has to come with a hefty price tag, but the truth is that is simply not the case. Utilising fresh ingredients and carefully choosing efficient foods can easily result in cheap, tasty and healthful foods, all it takes is a little bit of time and the want to learn how to cook properly to result in some incredibly tasty, long-lasting foods. This is where SFC and Mr Lee's step in, who in conjunction with Chef Stewart Parker from BHLive are working alongside Sainsbury's in running a bi-weekly cooking workshop to help students learn how to do exactly that, as part of Sainsbury's "Waste Less, Save More" campaign.
Nick Day, Sustainability Projects Officer for the Sustainable Food City partnership here in Bournemouth, said "We at the SFC partnership are passionate about helping local residents learn to cook healthy, nutritious food for their families while working to a budget. These workshops are emphasising that "Sustainable" food does not mean expensive and exclusively for the affluent. We're delighted to have found such a wonderful, local partner in Mr Lee's Noodles, who share the same ethos for quality, healthy food as we do."
He continues, "Mr Lee's Noodles have been amazingly generous in donating their time and resources to support our "Waste Less, Save More" campaign, and their food innovation station has become the coolest home-away-from-home that we could have ever wished for for this project. We're ever so grateful Mr Lee's, thank you so much!!"
With each meal cooked being roughly £2 per head, Stewart taught the crowd how to really make the most of every fresh ingredient, utilising every part of each vegetable, and picking cost-effective spices and base ingredients (such as chickpeas) that not only go far but also taste great. The focus was put on just how much you can get from food, and how little should be thrown away. The off-cuts of vegetables were made into a healthy slaw, the excess chickpeas turned into hummus, all far cheaper (and quite possibly tastier!) than their pre-made counterparts available in stores. Stewart hopefully helped the students realised that not only can your main meals be cheaper and healthier than before, but so can your snacks.
Another key point made was that, whilst all of above clearly took longer to prepare than simply popping a ready meal in the microwave, cooking for over 20 people only took him an hour or so. You really don't have to put in anywhere near as much time as some people imagine to prepare your meals for an entire week, hey, you might even enjoy it! Stewart showed that, with the right tools, you can easily prepare a feast for yourself if you want to, and if you have a real understanding of what used-by dates mean and how long food can really last, you don't actually have to cook all that often if you don't want to.
Mr Lee's are the best of both worlds, and the get-out-of-jail-free card when it comes to not having enough time to prepare yourself a proper meal at home. Consisting of real, chunky meat and veg in the form of freeze-dried ingredients, all it takes is a boil of a kettle to make a filling and nutritious meal. Whilst enjoyed with a balanced, healthful diet and lifestyle, Mr Lee's should take the worries out of missing a day, or not having enough in the fridge to put something together for the night. Together, SFC, Sainbury's, BHLive and Mr Lee's are all actively wanting to push all this learning and to equip people of all ages to pursue healthier and smarter eating.
The next workshop will take part here at the Mr Lee's kitchen, Bournemouth, on the 24th of April. All are welcome, and you can visit the SFC Facebook page and Sainsbury's Waste Less, Save More campaign to learn more!