This post is sponsored by Iceland.
Did you know that in the UK each year, households waste 7 million tonnes of food?! (As a whole, not each!). This adds up to a total cost of £12.5bn, or about £700 per family. That is a shockingly large amount of waste and so much of it is perfectly avoidable with a little bit of care and planning.
Simple steps such as making sure that you use food in date order, checking what you already have lurking at the back of the fridge before you go shopping to avoid overstocking, meal planning and cooking food in bulk can make a huge difference to the amount of food that you waste. Buying frozen rather than fresh foods is also a great way to cut down on waste as they keep for much longer than fresh and you can just take out what you need from the freezer, saving the rest for another time.
I often find that I will buy a big bag of fresh vegetables because they are on offer, but will only get through half of them before the rest goes mushy. One of my goals is to get more organised and keep my eye on what is in the fridge, making sure that I use things up before they go bad, and freezing whatever I don’t think I will be able to get through in time.
I have also starting buying more frozen veg as that eliminates the problem of being able to get through it all before it goes off. Buying frozen can also cut down on prep time, particularly in the case of vegetables as they are prepared and ready to cook straight from the bag; no more peeling!
Iceland’s frozen products are really high quality and delicious; they also have a vast range, making it incredibly easy to create a huge variety of tasty, healthy, convenient meals from frozen, thereby helping to cut down on food waste. When they challenged me to come up with a recipe that created as little waste as possible I knew straight away that I wanted to make a vegetable chilli; it is one of my favourite meals and although up until now I had usually made it with fresh, not frozen vegetables, I wanted to see how well it worked with frozen instead. The answer is perfectly! In fact it is even better as it is so quick to prepare and make and it leaves barely any waste.
I made this easy veggie chilli using almost entirely frozen veg, the only vegetables that aren’t frozen are the sweet potato and some garlic (though you could absolutely use frozen garlic too!), meaning that the only waste from making this chilli is some sweet potato peelings! The veg is cooked with some spices and tinned tomatoes and kidney beans (and a liiiittle bit of cocoa powder – don’t knock it, it works!); it makes for a very quick, hearty, healthy and delicious meal.
I like to serve the easy veggie chilli with white rice (Iceland’s frozen rice steam bags cook in three minutes!), tortilla chips for dipping, a generous dollop of sour cream, some grated cheddar and some diced avocado or guacamole. It makes for a fantastic meal for the family to sit down and share; did you know that children who eat at least five times a week with their family are at a lower risk of developing poor eating habits, weight problems, alcohol and substance dependencies, and tend to perform better academically than their peers who frequently eat alone or away from home? No, neither did I; but along with the social element of eating together this seems like a good reason to make sure that everyone sits down at the table together to eat!
Now, the recipe makes a fairly large batch of chilli so you may have leftovers. It will keep well in the fridge for a few days and is great re-heated but I thought that I would give you some ideas for different ways that you can re-purpose the leftovers into different meals. I don’t mind eating the same thing for dinner two days in a row but two is my limit; luckily, chilli is incredibly easy to turn into a whole host of different recipes so you don’t have to eat the same thing day after day and there is no need to throw it away. I’ve provided ideas for five different ways to use it below; I haven’t given exact recipes as that will depend on how much you have left but they are all quite simple so shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out.
Note: The chilli itself is vegan but obviously my choice of toppings are not; they can easily be swapped out for vegan alternatives if needed however.
Easy Veggie Chilli
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 165 g (1 1/2 cups) frozen diced onion
- 3 garlic cloves crushed (or 1 heaped tsp garlic from a jar)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp chilli powder (use mild if serving it to children)
- 1 Tbsp tomato puree
- 1 Tbsp tomato ketchup
- 2 400g tins chopped tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp salt
- 200 ml vegetable stock
- 1/2 Tbsp cocoa powder
- 2 400g tins kidney beans rinsed and drained
- 2 medium sweet potatoes peeled and diced
- 250 g (2 cups) frozen diced peppers
- 150 g (1 cup) frozen sweetcorn
- 100 g (1 cup) frozen green beans
- cooked white rice
- tortilla chips
- sour cream
- grated cheddar cheese
- chopped fresh coriander
- diced avocado
Place the olive oil in a large pan over a low heat. Add the onion and cook gently for five minutes or so until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic, spices and tomato puree and cook for a couple more minutes, stirring regularly.
Add the tomato ketchup, tinned tomatoes, soy sauce, salt , vegetable stock and cocoa powder and bring up to a simmer. Add the kidney beans, diced sweet potatoes, peppers, sweetcorn and green beans. Simmer for about 20-30 minutes, until the sweet potato is tender.
Check the seasoning then serve with cooked white rice and tortilla chips. Top each serving with a dollop of sour cream, some grated cheddar cheese, a sprinkling of chopped coriander and some diced avocado or guacamole.
Leftovers Variation 1: Nachos:
Place the oven on a medium-low heat. Spread some tortilla chips out in an oven-proof dish. Top with some leftover chilli and a generous grating of cheddar cheese. Bake for about 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and the nachos are warmed through. Serve with a scattering of fresh coriander and guacamole and sour cream for dipping.
Leftovers Variation 2: Stuffed Peppers:
Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 6. Cut the tops off of some bell peppers and roast for about 20-30 minutes until tender. Mix your leftover chilli with any leftover rice and fill the peppers with the mixture; top with grated cheddar cheese and bake for about 20 minutes until heated through.
Leftovers Variation 3: Baked Potato Topping:
No instruction needed really – bake a potato, warm up your chilli, top potato with chilli, sour cream and cheese.
Leftovers Variation 4: Empanadas:
Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 6. Roll out some shortcrust pastry thinly (I used defrosted frozen) and use a bowl as a template to cut out circles. Spoon some chilli into the middle of each pastry circle (be careful not to overfill!) and top with some grated cheddar. Brush around the edge of the pastry with beaten egg then fold it over the filling and press to seal. Refrigerate for 20 minutes then cut a small slit in each empanada, brush with beaten egg and bake for 20-30 minutes until golden.
Leftovers Variation 5: Chilli Mac ‘N’ Cheese:
This is my favourite variation. Make up your favourite macaroni cheese recipe and stir through your leftover chilli. Tip into an oven-proof dish, top with grated cheese and bake until golden and bubbling.
This post is sponsored by Iceland, thank you for supporting the brands that allow me to continue doing what I love – playing with food and making a mess of my kitchen.