Friday, 10 May 2013

Portion up!

I am tempted to cross stitch this commandment onto my tea towels, because so often I don't bother and regret it later. Nearly all of the financial and health related woes cooked up in the kitchen have food waste and over consumption as main ingredients. We are wired to like sweet, fatty foods and so I suspect that these are rarely wasted, but they are over consumed. How many people realize that a single portion of cheese is the size of a small matchbox, not a box of firelighters?  This is not to say there is no room for being exuberant with the meat and dairy, but it pays to realize a little can go a long way and still make for a tasty, nourishing meal.

One of the best ways we overcome the waste (or gluttony!), when we remember, is to portion up high value food the moment it comes into the house. An intact 400g block of cheese in the fridge will be demolished within a day or two in this house;  a little cheese makes a meal out of so many store cupboard basics, it is infuriating to find it has all been grazed.  If you meal plan you can portion up individual ingredients for each meal, ensuring that you can stretch them comfortably through the week; or you can split things up into optimum healthy portions and make use of them as you see fit. If the excess portions are put in the freezer it means that they can't just be pulled out and used up on a whim, but even a stack of portions stored in the fridge seems to offer some psychological block to me that means I don't reach for the next one unless absolutely necessary.

There are other advantages. Smaller portions tetris nicely into a smaller space, which means we can make the most of our small fridge and freezer; which in turn means we can take advantage of offers or batch cook more meals; which in turn means we are less likely to reach for the takeaway menu when we get home late and have no energy. If we know what use we will be putting our bacon to, we slice it up before storing it, which saves a little space and prep time later on.

We normally buy our meat from the butcher, but recently our local Co-op seems to have lost all concept of stock control and are offering vast quantities of meat and dairy at cut price at the end of the day. Evening shop visits were something I used to do with my mum; but as an adult I have never bothered much, until now. The deals have been stupendous and over the last few weeks we have stocked the freezer with enough meat to last us a good few months. Meat is for the most part a flavoring ingredient in this house unless we have a roast. I have just portioned up a couple of packs of frying steaks for the freezer into two-steak portions, doubling the number of meals that we will be able to make from them. A couple of blocks of cheese have been halved and frozen and smoked back bacon was split into pairs of rashers.

The final bacon pack is hanging around in the fridge ready to hook up with some slices of bread and fried eggs come Sunday morning...a feast day indeed.


  1. I like this idea of portioning up before putting the food away in the freezer or cupboards.
    Love from Mum

    1. I have eked out a few kilos of cheese this way over the past few months, it really does work, especially with ravenous kids in the house that would eat whole blocks for lunch :)

  2. We do this too, usually with reduced packets of meat which end up in the freezer