Call me mean but

I hate waste and try everything I can to avoid it.

Christmas time is when we all tend to over shop, so January is when I do most of my cooking out of the larder and freezer. I find it's quite a challenge, and you really do have to be inventive with the resources to hand.

So far this week I have made the following

1. Tuna and vegetable bake - pasta with a cheese sauce, tin of tuna, small tin of peas/ sweetcorn/ mushrooms (whatever) - piled into an ovenproof dish and baked until golden brown.

2. Risotto - To avoid wasting mushrooms, I always thinly slice any that are hanging around and leave them to air dry in a warm place for a few days. I then store them in an airtight jar and they last for ages and really are big on flavour.

So, I sweat an onion or two in a mix of olive oil and butter - I then add risotto rice and cook for a few minutes more.

I pre -soak the mushrooms (about a small tea cup full) in some boiling water for about 30 minutes and drain them, reserving the liquid, which tastes divine. Add the chopped mushrooms after the rice

I make up about a pint (ish) of chicken or vegetable stock (hot) and add the mushroom liquid to it.

Slowly, I add the hot stock to the rice mixture a bit at a time and allow time for each addition to absorb. I keep adding the stock until the rice has swollen and has cooked through - you may need a bit more stock towards the end, depending on your rice (best to use round/ risotto/ arborio rice)

To serve, grate some cheese to top the risotto - I use Parmesan as it is such a good keeper, but anything will do, as long as you like it.

My daughter loves a topping made from some crumbled Roquefort mixed with two tablespoons of crème fraiche, and melted through in the microwave.............I tend not to add salt, as powdered stock can be very salty. Add it if you are using fresh stock of course.

I don't intend to go shopping before the end of the week, so watch this space for a few more ideas - please feel free to add some ideas. I also made bread yesterday to save the trip to the boulangerie - very nice even if I say so myself!

My sister is in the same position with three sons and a husband all with hearty appetites.

She has two bread machines, and often has them both on the go.

Also she very often puts two carb-based dishes on the supper table.

If she does, say potatoes, she will do a courgette and rice gratin as well - both help to pad out the meat course in a healthy way - there is rarely any waste.

I know the bread mixes have additives, buy hey, if they taste good.......................

After a week away, there isn't much in my fridge, but there were lardons, eggs and uht cream and there's always spaghetti in the cupboard so I rustled up a spaghetti carbonara.

I also make most of my own bread, preparing the dough in the machine and then baking in the oven. With growing boys, they consume vast quantities so I prefer them to eat fresh bread made with basic ingredients. Carrouf also do the flour mixes, including a ciabatta one and mixed seed one. They work out cheaper than bread flour but do have additives.

Much of my leftover bread gets whizzed into breadcrumbs and frozen.

I too use the mixes from Lidl from time to time - they are excellent value for money. That's what I made last night. I get a good crust as I bake it in the Aga.

What is it about cooked bananas and that wonderful texture??? I love them, and the soufflé sounds a real winner.

Glad to see there is another waste hater on here!

PS - When I make bread it is NEVER wasted - that says something don't you think??

Last night with our leftover spaghetti alla putanesca bake (?!) we had a featherlight banana souffle. I used 1 over ripe banana pureed with 1 egg yolk and some zest of orange folded through 1 egg white whisked with 50g / 2oz caster sugar and then baked whilst we ate the spaghetti (200C 10 minutes)


Oh and I've not bought bread now since mid-November as I am mean and hate all the waste (and yes I have a plethora of recipes for stale bread, even taught a class on it!). I love sourdough but have mostly been using the very cheap flour / yeast blends from Lidl. My favourite is a mix of the Multi Cereale and the Pain de Campagne. They give excellent results but need more water than it says on the packet. I always do a double rise and always pour water into a tray in the bottom of the oven when baking the loaf for a fabulous crust. It is good for sandwiches and stays fresh for at least 3 days and also makes great toast.

You just have to time everything so you bake other things at the same time or when the electricity is less expensive. Think of all the petrol we're saving too!!