I’ve been throwing away perfectly edible food for years, and I’m not alone.
Australians throw away $8 billion worth of edible food each and every year according to Food Wise, which sounds pretty horrific. In fact it is pretty horrific.
You don’t even have to look overseas to find people struggling to find enough food to eat, it’s happening right here.
While I’m pretty good at using up leftovers, I could do better. That’s why I agreed to eat expired food for a week.
And guess what? I didn’t die.
What’s inside Mamamia’s fridge? Article continues…
MONDAY: Spoiled milk
I find that most Mondays the milk I’ve have delivered to my door on a Friday is already starting to turn, even though it is a normal carton like the ones you can get from the shops. I think it’s because it sits outside for a while.
Normally I don’t notice it until I’ve made my coffee, taken a sip and thinking it tastes weird due to my having just brushed my teeth, take a second sip. Suspicious, I go to the fridge, retrieve the milk and smell it.
So, what to do? Just pour the entire container down the sink, rinse out the bottle and add it to the recycling, or whip up a batch of delicious pikelets with it?
Jo’s Sour Milk Pikelet Recipe
2 cups self-raising flour
2 cups (expired) milk
1 tbsp castor sugar
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 tsp baking powder
Stir ingredients in a bowl until batter is smooth, adding extra (expired milk) to reach the desired consistency. Cook in a non-stick pan with a little butter or oil spray.
They tasted just the same…
TUESDAY: Expired meat
Chicken is always out-of-date in my house because I tend to grocery shop for dinner foods once every three weeks, meaning I buy lots of packets of chicken and freeze them all. As far as I am concerned, expiry dates don’t apply if the food is frozen, right?
Okay, maybe my chicken was a little whiffy, but it doesn’t mean you can’t use it for a dish in which it will cook thoroughly, like the chicken casserole I made that night, using one of those casserole sachets you get at the shops.
Hearty and de-licious…
WEDNESDAY: Old yoghurt
So many people throw yoghurt away as soon they notice it’s out-of-date. Yoghurt can be tricky because in order to check it you have to open it, and most single-serve yoghurt tubs can’t be resealed.
Here’s my tip.
Don’t throw them away. Give them the sniff test first and then a taste test. It’s not going to kill you to try it before you trash it.
My favourite greek yoghurt was a couple of days past the used-by-date on Wednesday morning but I ate it anyway and it was so delicious.
If you do notice quite a few yoghurts expired and you don’t think you’ll be able to eat them in time before they spoil, bake a delicious cake with it, using a butter cake base and then yoghurt instead of milk, for a deliciously fruity treat.
Curdy and delicious…
THURSDAY: Stale biscuits
Biscuits take a while to expire but thanks to my rather large pantry, I've managed it. I have four packets of forgotten biscuits at the back of my pantry that I used to eat with tea each afternoon, but got out of the habit of, the previous year.
What to do? What to do?
I open them up and have a little nibble. A little stale but not revolting.
Baked cheesecake it is. I crushed them all up in the blender, baked a cheesecake and put the remainder in the freezer for future cheesecakes.
Not dead yet...
FRIDAY: Mouldy bread
Bread goes mouldy quickly at the moment thanks to our humid weather but a couple of greenish slices doesn't a disaster make.
Even when the bread is well and truly expired.
Just remove the pieces of bread that have green growth on them and save the rest for toast. That means you have to freeze it.
My favourite breakfast is toast with butter and strawberry jam, from when my dad used to give me some bites of his toast in the morning when I was little. Plus in Italian culture it's pretty much against the law to throw away bread.
Bake it with chicken, process it into breadcrumbs or make bread and butter pudding.
Still going strong...
SATURDAY: Green-ish cheese
Yes, the cheese has gone green but I don't have any other parmesan in the house so I simply scrape it off. Ta-da, spaghetti cheese rescued.
Once again, I probably hang onto my parmesan cheese a little longer than I should, but that's what cheese is. Mould. So it has to get pretty old and gunky for it to be given the old heave-ho.
If you're a little concerned then do as I did and make macaroni cheese from scratch, so the cheese melts and is heated and is melty and delicious.
I tend to make macaroni cheese every few weeks, using up all the left over cheese that is expired or almost expired.
Tangy and tender...
In this episode of This Glorious Mess, Andrew Daddo confesses to Holly Wainwright he still packs his teenage children's school lunches.
SUNDAY: Forgotten cannelloni
Cleaning out my freezer is always a bit of a horror movie, particularly when I have trouble identifying particular foods.
What did that used to be...said peering into a container...
At the very, very, very, very back of the freezer I found a frosty packet of single-serve spinach and ricotta cannelloni. It had expired three months previously, but it is frozen. How bad can it be?
In fact, it wasn't bad at all.
It was yum.
So, the moral to this story is, don't be too quick to throw away expired food. Try it first. You don't have to go as far as using sour milk in pikelets but you should definitely do everything you can to reduce waste.
When in doubt, sniff it out.
Trust your own instincts.
Use-by-dates are suggestions only, especially if the food that is expired has been in the freezer.
WARNING: While Jo did not get ill all week despite eating food that had past its use-by-date, we are not endorsing, eating food past its use-by-date. We think you can make your mind up for yourself.