Love Your Leftovers is for anyone who loves food but abhors waste. And it’s perfect for this festive time of year – we don’t need to feel guilty come Boxing Day when the fridge is groaning with leftovers; all we need is a little inspiration.
River Cottage chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is already well known for his sustainable philosophy around food. Now he breaks it down step-by-step in what will undoubtedly become a classic of household management.
Though many of us may already have some thrifty tricks to waste less, especially if we took tips from parents or grandparents who grew up through war or hardship, there’s no doubt that we’ve lost our way when it comes to managing food waste. Most of us will have heard the shocking statistics – it’s estimated that the average Australian household wastes more than $1000 worth or 345 kilograms of food a year!
Love Your Leftovers is about exciting recipes to help you make use of all your food, but it’s about general kitchen and household management too – shopping, storing, cooking – that will save precious time and money.
Fearnley-Whittingstall encourages us not to think of each meal as a self contained unit, but as more of a chain – ‘ a daisy chain of deliciousness’ he calls it – with one great meal leading to a series of equally tasty other meals.
The recipes are about using every part of the food – potato peel, fish skin, bones, wilting greens – with only the bare minimum making it to the compost and much less to the bin. Some have gloriously made-up names, such as Middle Eastern-inspired lamb and chickpea thing-in-a-pan and Rissotover.
He advises planning leftovers and even doubling or tripling up when cooking so that every meal can be turned into more meals throughout the week – Sunday’s stew “gains a pastry lid and becomes Tuesday’s pie” or a Bolognese, “with kidney beans and spices, becomes chili con carne.”
It’s packed full of handy tips to get you in the habit of effortlessly using leftovers –“Winging it with what’s to hand can be so liberating,” he says. It’s user-friendly and flexible, with lots of recommendations for substitutions so if you don’t have one ingredient you can easily use another, helping you to be even more opportunistic.
The book addresses some key issues around using leftovers such as use-by-dates and food safety. It’s well laid out, with each chapter taking us through all those frequently occurring leftovers – FOLs – including bread, fruit, rice, meat, fish, and dairy. And there’s a whole section dedicated entirely to exciting Christmas leftovers.
“It’s those seat-of-the-pants, spur-of-the-moment dishes, rustled up from odds and ends loitering in the fridge or cupboards, that often bring me the greatest pleasure,” says Fearnley-Whittingstall. Now the Christmas leftovers can be even more exciting than Christmas dinner itself.
Recipes & images taken from River Cottage: Love Your Leftovers by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, published by Bloomsbury.