Wednesday 10 March 2021

The Compleat Eater

Back in 1653, a guy called Izaak Walton wrote a book of poetry and prose celebrating the joy of angling. I have never read it - sitting on a cold damp riverbank all day waiting for a fishing line to twitch is not my idea of fun! But until recently it was the only example I knew of the word "compleat" where one might normally use "complete" But the word is back again - to define zero waste food. Things we can eat compleatly. 

  • Use every part of your loaf of bread, whether it is fresh or stale, a middle section or a crust, a slice or some crumbs.
  • If you eat an orange, save the peel for another recipe
  • Cut your broccoli florets from the stalks, and use the stalks as a side vegetable in another dish 
  • Where possible wash fruit and veg but don't bother to peel them.
  • Rinse out the end of the marmite jar to get a rich stock to perk up soups or gravy
  • If you cut fat off a piece of meat, render it down to use for frying
  • If your carrots come with leafy green tops, whiz them up to make pesto
  • Turn your chicken carcase into a stock
These are thrifty habits which not only save money but reduce food waste, and save the planet by helping to fight climate change. I regularly do all the things in that list above. Kezzie did a brilliant post in February about regrowing vegetable ends. Look at these lovely beetroot leaves and onion tops. You can find regular hints on the Guardian's Waste Not section, and Abel and Cole, the veg box people have tips on their website. Riverford - the another vegbox company produce a weekly online magazine called WickedLeeks [no connection with Julian Assange] full of great tips.
I was born in the fifties, just as rationing ended, and Food Waste was still considered Deeply Immoral. I am pleased people are taking it seriously once more. 
What are your best tips for compleat eating? [please note, I am not interested in Slug Casserole, Banana Skin Curry or Coffee Grounds Brownies].


  1. Jane from Dorset10 March 2021 at 07:46

    I do all these things too, having been born at that same point in the 1950s.
    I turn my orange peel into candied peel for cakes and biscuits, but since we shouldn’t be eating too many of these, but do eat a lot of oranges! Suggestions welcome.

    1. My little jar of citrus dust is a useful ingredient

    2. PS so glad that you're able to comment again!

  2. I'm not the best at compleat eating in terms of using all the skin etc but I always wash the seeds from a butternut squash and then put them in a small oven-proof dish and toady them with butter, paprika and salt to make a tasty savoury snack.

    1. I live that autocorrect has changed "roast" to "toady"!

  3. Make soup. We throw very little food away and even less since we got our soup maker. We have found that bits of all veg make excellent soup.
    Another recipe is a gratin, any cooked veg and meat jumbled under a cheese sauce. Similarly a quiche or pie. Fridge bottom quiche and Sunday dinner pies are favourites of the house!
    Freeze pastry trimmings for pie toppings.
    We freeze slices of cake, slices of bread, bits of cheese, all before they are past their best. In fact after years of battling for freezer space we finally lashed out on a second, small freezer and life is transformed!

    1. We enjoy "Fridge Scrape" meals too. I admit to getting a bit lazy with freezer labelling since Christmas. That certainly makes for interesting meals as web"eat up the freezer" before we move

  4. Ends of loaves make a nice bread and butter pudding. I do save water from steaming vegetables, and use it in a stock.

    1. I usually use some of my "veg water" in the gravy, but I confess I had never thought of keeping the rest for stock. Thanks for this idea 👍

  5. One of the things I've loved about Lockdown living has been coming up with palatable ways to make a lunch out of the remnants of last night's dinner. Even tall teenage sons are now putting every possible thing into a little dish in the fridge when they clear up in the evening. It's been such good practice for us all. That and making do with what is in the house if anything runs out before our weekly grocery delivery. There has been little or no complaining about food this last year, I think because we have all learnt to appreciate and be grateful for everything we have. Another good practice.

  6. (And we call fridge scrape fridge forage!)

  7. I'm not saying I would do it but Nadiya Hussain recommend this
    Banana peel 'pulled pork' recipe
    Chop and shred banana peel into strips.
    Fry diced onions in a pan with some garlic.
    Add the peel to the onions and garlic and cook down for five minutes.
    Add barbecue sauce
    Cook altogether for a few more minutes.
    (Also, unfortunately, we never have end of loaves left over - it's my husband's favourite part)

  8. I try not to waste any food. When I harvested my radishes and lone turnip from my little vegetable plot, I used both the roots and the greens. The broccoli on one of my plants didn't amount to much, but, I have plans to pick the leaves to cook them. I freeze vegetable cooking water and odds and ends in containers in the freezer. Once a container is full, I take it out and make soup with it! In fact, I took out one of the containers, this morning, to be made into soup, for tonight's dinner. :)

  9. After 33 years, my husband still can't get used to me keeping what he thinks are empty Marmite jars 🙂


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