Through the basket hole: a Sunday supermarket raid.

After arriving home from an amazing holiday in Ethiopia Friday, that’s another blog post if I can do it justice, I’ve spent most of the weekend chilling. With my mum cat sitting Tigs, she’d left food behind which I had and I used what was in the freezer. By Sunday, I decided that I’d better hit the supermarket and get myself ready for the working week; sob!

I left home just after 3pm and arrived at the supermarket at 3:15pm in the hope of reductions coming out at around 3:30pm. There were 5 or 6 loiterers at the reduced fruit & veg section so knowing that they were waiting on final reductions I quickly nipped off to the other sections. I checked out the meat aisle; whilst I don’t eat it, it’s where other produce like reduced price sandwiches, salads, sauces, dairy free products are often placed. I got a couple of the Wicked range slaw for 17p each. A pack of 40p cooked chicken for Tigs. Being vegan, I feel a little conflicted when buying meat but figure Tigger is eating it in processed cat food anyway and it is heading for the bin.

I added bleach to my basket then returned to the fruit & veg aisle where my fellow raiders were still patiently waiting. I had a scroll through Instagram and at around 3:35pm the store assistant wheeled out crates filled with fruit & veg. It was a bit of a mad scram but I managed to grab a bag of Desiree potatoes for 20p, broccoli florets 32p, sweetcorn cobettes 15p, a bunch of spring onions for 6p, sprouts 25p, vegetable & beansprout stir fry mix 25p and oyster mushrooms for 9p.

A few minutes later another member of staff came out to reduce the flowers. There were far more than usual; I guess plenty left over from Valentine’s Day. I picked up a beautiful bouquet for 62p down from £6.25; love thyself and all that!

With all my veg and having noodles at home, which I’d collected some time ago using food sharing app Olio, it made sense to make a stir fry. I kid you not when I tell you I wondered whether I could get away with making a stir fry without soy sauce or oil ha ha. I decided to treat myself seeing as I had a £3 coupon. It didn’t stop me opting for store brand soy sauce and vegetable oil; well the latter is essentially rapseed oil for less.

I checked the reduced sections a couple of more times; people often put things back after the initial scurry to fill their baskets. I left the bakery alone as my freezer is already filled with bread, rolls, wraps. Then I headed for the self checkout; I like to be sure that everything scans at its reduced price! Inserted coupon which brought total down to £1.81, an overall saving of £20.48!

It’s all the money that I’ve spent this weekend. Although, it’s not far off a meal out in Ethiopia. I might have had a yellow Sunday but I’ve still got the holiday blues!


Office Politics

I remember watching in astonishment, as the work bestie put his hand in the bin in the staff kitchen, lifted out a box of opened grapes, washed them, happily popped them in his mouth whilst offering them around the office with no mention of their origins. I wasn’t quite sure whether to be disgusted or in awe. Fast forward a few years it’s no surprise that it was he who encouraged me to take an opened packet of sweets which had been attached to a telephone pole and eat them.

I learnt all about yellow stickers (food reduced on its best before date) from him, I admire the time and energy that he invests in growing his own food, I’d be lying if I said that I’ve gotten my head around pollination; no matter how many times he’s explained it ha! I appreciate the value in sharing food when I’m trying to use up all of the 7 pumpkins that I receive of him in a year. He’s one of my favourite people to brainstorm recipes with and think of ways to fully utilise food such as reusing the leftover vinegar from his jar of gherkins to pickle my own.

However, attitudes to food in the work place can vary, yet is a common denominator; pastries at morning meetings, team bonding meals, lunch breaks providing nourishment and respite from the working day, tea club, the endless emails asking who has drunk another’s milk. We tend to spend more time with our colleagues than anyone else during the working week and this can often include meal times; I routinely eat both breakfast and lunch in the office. Food is symbolic and carries meaning so it’s not simply our packed lunches that we bring to the office but our ethics and values too. This can be a bone of contention, excuse the pun, when we hold different stances from our work mates.

It pains me when I see food being discarded in the office, leftovers from office socials forgotten about when people are firmly back at their desks. In all honesty, I can’t get my head around this deliveroo age in which workers are paying for their lunches to be cycled in, it just feels so indulgent, as if we are becoming somewhat removed from being able to cater, I know love a pun, for our own basic needs. My suggestion that we go to a vegan restaurant for the Christmas party went down like a limp parsnip.

That said, colleagues now regularly check for vegan options before meals are arranged. They have taken an interest in my reasons for going vegan and it’s led to many a conversation about sustainability. My banging on about food waste means that work friend’s regularly check whether I want foods before they bin them. It fills me with delight every time a work friend brings in bits that she’s found left on the street; so far we’ve had a selection of teas, bags of oats. I’ve taken to bringing in surplus sandwiches from eateries which I’ve collected using food sharing app Olio.

Just as my work bestie was instrumental in changing the way that I food shopped, and unwittingly my relationship with food and waste, I’ve also seen the influence that I’ve had in the office. The office is a place to effect change that we will inevitably take home. The girls at work bringing in their old clothes before dropping off at charity shops has meant that I’ve bought far less in recent months. We’ve taken to bringing in plastic bags for a work friend to use for dog poop. We all encourage one another to recycle in the office and went from paper towels to tea towels in the kitchen. I was gifted with Lucy Siegle’s book Turning the Tide on Plastic by my secret Santa. I’ve seen offices put arrangements in place to collect surplus food and distribute to clients in need.

Our differences create an opportunity for change, learning, challenge and to be accountable. Our similarities provide a sense of belonging, community and kinship. Our practices at work will inform our behaviours at home, in wider society, and vice versa.

What’s working well in your office and what would you like to see more of?


Karma: the principle of retributive justice determining a person’s state of life and the state of his or her reincarnations as the effect of past deeds. (

Karma: a Swedish startup founded in Stockholm, November 2016. The app connects surplus food from restaurants, cafes and grocery stores to consumers for a lower price. As a result, users eat great food for less and businesses receive an additional revenue stream — all while reducing food waste. (

Karma: I receive £5 credit from the Karma app, I use £2.49 to collect Teriyaki Tofu served on sushi rice with kamameshi sauce, edamame, leeks and pickled radish from EatFirst for dinner; restaurant style, healthy gourmet meals which you heat in the microwave. On my way home, I unwittingly drive through the congestion zone and get stung for the £11.50 charge. Now the what actual Karma is this?!

I’m full of first world problems, I could list them daily; the steam room is currently out of action at my health club, my running times are not what they used to be, I forgot that I had cut price tomatoes and now they are mouldy. It’s astonishing that food waste has become such a first world problem; I don’t like that I’ll bin it, I don’t want to eat that twice I’ll bin it, the restaurant portions are too large let them bin it, we need to overstock sandwiches in the interest of custom, if they don’t sell we’ll bin them.

Have we lost sight that in third world countries people regularly die of starvation. 98% of the world’s undernourished people live in developing countries (

We don’t even need to go that far afield, most of us would have walked past at least one person today who cannot afford to eat. Someone without the same choices as us. You see most of us are in a position to make informed choices daily as to how we spend our money, what we eat, what we invest in. Some of our decisions will inevitably be more ethical than others and our privilege influences than that.

By using the Karma app you choose to save money on a meal, you choose what you buy, you choose to reduce food waste. Businesses such as EatFirst choose to operate with a social consciousness, reduce landfill, whilst still generating a revenue. We all make choices as to what sort of world we want to live in.

Let me know what you choose from

Good Food for Good Causes

I first came across The Felix Project in the summer of 2017. A wellness event that I attended were donating their proceeds to The Felix Project and being curious I looked them up online. It sounded like a cool concept; a charity which collected surplus food that would otherwise be wasted, and redistributed to homeless shelters. At the time, I was interested in volunteering with a food waste/food poverty charity which would allow me to cook on premises. I figured it would be a good way of improving my culinary skills whilst helping others, so thought The Felix Project wasn’t quite what I was looking for.

A week or so later, I was in Sainsbury’s, on a yellow sticker shop, when I spotted a flyer for The Felix Project and noticed that they had a warehouse in North West London, which was easy enough for me to get to. Taking this as a sign, I thought what have I got to lose by getting in touch with them, so I did. I couldn’t make their induction day so development manager Anne suggested that I co-drive a route and see how I got on. It was great; driver Ross was good company, we took in the sights of West London, whilst collecting from places like Gail’s Bakery and dropping the food off to hostels. It was really humbling seeing first hand where the food was delivered to, and knowing that many of these people were waiting on us to eat. I can’t imagine having to be dependent on others for my next meal. Grenfell Tower was in full view as we drove over the Westway; if there was ever a time we were invoked to come together as a community this was it.

Some weeks later when Anne asked if I was available to drive, I thought she’d lost her damn mind. I mean I reckon myself a pretty decent driver but I wasn’t a van driver. She invited me to the warehouse before the shift to take my licence details and to go on a test drive. “I don’t know what you was worrying about, you are doing great” she said, and she was right, I had been fretting unnecessarily. The vans are a breeze to drive and made all the more easier with the introductions of zipvans, electric vehicles; they even offer walking and cycling routes.

I’ve volunteered as driver and co driver regularly since 2017. Having the flexibility of booking in for shifts, as and when I’m available, works really well for me being able to fit it in around work and other commitments and has lent itself to my still being motivated 18 months later. Aside from being out on routes, there are opportunities to volunteer in the warehouse. I’ve volunteered at events and am on The Felix Project team running The Big Half marathon in March; raising money and awareness.

They really are a fantastic charity who are so appreciative of any help that they receive and look after their volunteers; you’ve not eaten until you’ve attended a Felix Project party and of course taking home a doggy bag is encouraged. You see food and our need to eat is what we all have in common; it’s a basic human function that cuts across gender, race, class, religion. Unfortunately, social disadvantage can too easily affect our access to food and allow too many to go hungry.

It was Felix’s upset that there were children at his football tournament who hadn’t eaten that day which inspired the project, after his death, in his memory. The Felix Project’s mission of lessening food waste and poverty is what keeps it going. Knowing I’ve never regretted undertaking a shift is what makes me sign up for the next. What will be your reason for sparing some time for this cause?

Sign up to volunteer with The Felix Project.

Is Giving Receiving?

A dear friend of mine asked how I felt about being gifted with reduced goods. To date, I’ve received a birthday hamper with yellow sticker goodies, food reduced at the end of its shelf life. I regularly receive fruit and veg from my work bestie’s allotment. Another work friend brought me in a bag of teas that she’d found on the street. My mum has also given me sealed tins of food she’s found discarded. Friends routinely hit me up when they are clearing out their cupboards. A running friend gifts me with food samples she often picks up at races. To me relationship goals are a bouquet of cut price flowers. And for Christmas, the aforementioned friend, gifted me with yellow sticker raw bites and heart shaped cookie cutters from her kitchen.

The short answer is that I love receiving all these items. It means that I’ve been thought of, held in mind, I perceive it as an expression of care. It encourages me to become more creative with food, recipes; I can’t tell you how many ways I’ve made pumpkin! It means that others are thinking about food waste in their own time. That food is not just discarded but shared. If I receive foods that I can’t use then I have to think about what else to do with them; share with family, friends, food banks, the street homeless, distribute on food sharing apps and so the chain continues. It means that we all become a little more thoughtful of one another even when we don’t know each other. Isn’t this what it means to belong to a community?

Don’t get me wrong this has not always been my outlook. I was spoilt as a child, frivolous as a young adult. There have been times throughout my life when food has meant control, punishment. Money, gifts have been used to gain compliance, manipulate, satisfy the givers’ needs over the receiver.

Food, money, are symbolic and carry meaning. Is it any wonder that divorces with few shared assets can be settled with a little less acrimony, that the reading of a will can cause such strains within families. We rush to put the kettle on when we need to offer comfort. Ice cream has become synonymous with being dumped. How I’ve heard people refuse to give the homeless money in case they do not spend it on food. How morally damning we can be of those far less fortunate than ourselves. We use food to align ourselves with political and ethical ideologies, religious beliefs.

We need food, money, to survive. We need each other, we are relational beings. Every transaction, exchange that we have with one another carries meaning. We communicate when we give and receive. Be it good or bad let us not lose sight of that as we need to be mindful of the message we want to give one another and to the world we live in.

My love don’t cost a thing; but the Xmas dinner does!

I recently had a row with someone who was insistent that I should be cooking meat at Christmas. Said person was not coming for Christmas dinner, or any other dinner for that matter, so not sure what concern it was of theirs. I pointed out that preparing food takes time, energy, money, care so there was no way that I’d be told that’s not quite good enough and I should delivering meat too.

Interestingly, my sister, who is a meat eater, and would be joining for Christmas dinner, described me as her saviour for taking care of the food shopping. For her not having to worry about traipsing around the shops, or bearing the financial cost, far outweighed the need to be served meat.

My mum, another meat eater, is prepared to sacrifice it as long as she does not have to be involved in the cooking. She’s no one’s fool and has no interest in slaving away in the kitchen.

Food has meaning, it is political, symbolic, a form of communication. And, despite any differences, unites us all. Had I not regifted Christmas cookies to a woman begging on the street, the likelihood is that I would have pretended not to have seen her. A side effect of turning vegan has been my offering surplus food to others less fortunate, who lack the same autonomy over their food choices that I do. It is only the privileged who can afford to argue about what should or shouldn’t be served on their plates.

There is a value to food which is not simply monetary, so this Christmas I will continue to predominantly prepare food which would otherwise have been wasted. I will share what I can spare with the needy. I’ll welcome the opportunity to cook with my sister, try new foods, recipes, spend time with family, find out which vegan joints my niece has been hitting up. And, the only animal on the table will be Tigger; what can I say the cat is a law upon himself!

These are the foods that I have planned for the big day:-

    Seitan Wellington; I’ll be making this from scratch for the first time! It’s been on my to do list for a while. The gluten flour was full price but the chickpea flour that I’ll be adding was reduced to clear, yellow sticker, as is the shortcrust pastry. The recipe calls for puff pastry but my sister says pastry is pastry.
    Roast potatoes; I collected a free bag using food sharing app Olio.
    Roast pumpkin; a new addition to Christmas. I still have loads chopped in the freezer having had 4 this year from Andy’s allotment.
    Parsnips, Sprouts, Carrots; all yellow stickers. I’ve been buying as and when I see them and keeping them in the fridge.
    I stored a box of fresh yellow sticker cranberries in the freezer weeks ago so will be making cranberry sauce.
    My sister is insisting on making a nut roast because she likes it.
    Bisto gravy, because who doesn’t have at least 4 tubs in their cupboards.
    Accidentally vegan, yellow sticker Tesco bakery mince pies which I’ve stored in the freezer
    Tesco Wicked Kitchen, yellow sticker, pineapple dream cake. Instructions read not suitable for freezing; I’ve done it anyway.
    Healthy chocolate truffles which I made in a vegan Christmas cookery class back in November but have stored especially.
    Biscuits made in a different Christmas cookery class at a community college which again I’ve been keeping.
    Carrs Table Water crackers, accidentally vegan, and from a friend’s cupboard clear out.
    Red sticker, the reduced stickers are red in Holland & Barrett, Mozzarella style vegan cheese at 12p a pack! They were marked down to £1.20, I asked the shop assistant whether any more would be taken off and they took another 90% as use by date was following day (22/12); I’ll keep them in fridge till Xmas day. Just goes to show it pays to ask!
    Selection of fruit and nuts; either yellow sticker or free from Olio
    Alcohol, others will be bringing, including a bottle of champagne that my mum bought at a car boot; now you know where I get it from!

I’ll share the final food pics on insta!

I hope you all have a wonderful day and I’d be interested to hear the value that you place on Xmas.

Imperfect Produce

“How are the baking classes going” a work colleague asked. “Ah, my Christmas cake was a bit of a flop so I’ll now be eating the lot rather than saving it for Christmas” I told him. He went on to suggest that I blog about it and reminded me that not everything has to be perfect.

Why hadn’t I thought of this I wondered. I’d taken a before picture of the ingredients which I’d saved from the bin; buying yellow stickers, using food sharing apps. I’d planned on taking a snap of the finished product and sharing on Instagram, showing how you can eat well for less, I didn’t bother when the bottom of the cake stuck to the tin as I lifted it out.

The last blog post that I wrote was on eating well for less during the festive period, yet I had no intention of sharing that I’d baked a Christmas cake until Andre gave me the nudge I needed. It’s not like I’m precious about food; it was just the other day that I found an orange on the pavement, proudly declared this to an old flame on the phone before proceeding to eat it. I realised, that whilst I’ll publicly advocate to remove the 10 seconds from the 10 second rule, that I attribute a whole different meaning to street food, and will happily eat your leftovers, that something changes when posting on social media. It’s less about it being public, more the sharing of an image.

No matter where the ingredients come from I still want a glossy image, of a perfect cake. And I’m not alone in this, we can get lost scrolling through pictures of avocado bun burgers, food bloggers arranging photo sets to snap a cold meal; steam will blur a picture you know!

The dilemma is that an image is a perception, a representation, profile, it is what is put forwarded and presented, polished, manipulated even, it is not the subject, or object in its entirety. Food on the other hand is the substance. It’s energy, it’s what fuels us, comforts, soothes, nourishes, keeps us alive. The more we focus on the aesthetics of food the more we lose sight of its primary function. The more pressure on supermarkets, farmers to provide consumers with perfect looking produce. The easier it becomes for us to say I don’t like that, I’ve gone off it, maybe I have an intolerance, I don’t know how to cook it, oh just bin it.

My Christmas cake didn’t go to waste, it was delicious afternoon tea and I shared it with my work friend Andre who asked for any royalties from the blog; cake is as far it stretches mate ha!

He couldn’t tell what had gone wrong with it, and neither can you in the image that I’ve attached. Because it’s simply that an image, the cake was still tasty and when all said and done, it’s the substance that’s important. It’s food that satisfies you, images just make you hungry.

Peachy Pumpkin Soup

When your work bestie keeps supplying you with mutant pumpkins from his allotment, and tinned peaches with a best before date of 2015, from I don’t know where, there’s only one thing to do.

You put the pumpkin in, take the peaches out, in out, in out, shake it all about. Enough of this Hokey Cokey, it’s peach pumpkin soup!

If you like sweet and sour, you’ll love this soup. When I get an idea, I google it and if it’s been done before it validates it for me. I’m yet to come up with a recipe that has not been done before, no matter how out there it may seem. So go ahead and use up any veg, and fruit that you have lying around and let me know if you think of an original mix.


  • 1kg chopped pumpkin chunks, I used a bag from frozen which I’d pre chopped and stored: Andy’s allotment
  • 1 chopped red chilli: Andy’s allotment
  • 1 clove of garlic: jar collected using Olio
  • 420g tin of peaches in light syrup, given the BBD was 2015 I clearly would have used any type of peaches or fruit ha
  • 1 inch of fresh turmeric: yellow sticker
  • Half a thumb size of fresh ginger: yellow sticker
  • 2 pints of vegetable stock: yellow sticker
  • 1 tsp garam masala: Olio
  • 1tsp cinnamon: cinnamon
  • Chopped coriander from frozen: yellow sticker
  • Salt & Pepper to season

I added all the ingredients, bar the coriander, in a pot, brought to the boil, then simmered for 20-30 mins.

I simply did this because I wanted to save time, you could fry spices before adding pumpkin and peaches.

Turn off the heat, blend with hand blender or alternative, stir through coriander and season.

I like to wait until the next day to eat soup to allow the flavours to settle and for it to thicken.

Vegan Pumpkin & Kale Cheese Bake

Every year I’m blessed with squash from the work bestie’s allotment. This year he’d outdone himself, and me, with a pumpkin so huge that it had to be cut into slabs from the boot of my car; check out my instagram for the video! After gifting pieces to friends, family, donating on Olio food sharing app, making pie, kao pung, hummus, soups, bread, muffins and roasting I was still left with plenty so cut into chunks and stored in the freezer. He threatened, promised I mean, to bring another so I thought I best clear some freezer space and think of another recipe.

I thought of adding it to macaroni cheese as a friend had but with no pasta thought again. I loved cauliflower cheese growing up and having picked up vegan cheese and parmesan using food sharing app Olio, I thought why not a pumpkin cheese bake!

If you’re still harbouring pumpkins from Halloween or fancy something a little different for thanksgiving why not give it go. If you shop from your kitchen and use completely different veg let me know what you make!


  • Roast a dish of chopped pumpkin and kale with a couple of sliced red chillis from the work bestie’s allotment, 4 garlic cloves from Olio, sunflower oil from my sis, reduced price dried sage for approx 30 mins. Be mindful that pumpkin produces a lot of liquid particularly if defrosted so either drain when adding your cheese sauce or incorporate it into the mixture.
  • To make white sauce 4 tbsps sunflower oil with 4 tbsps of flour, mix into a roux. Slowly add 500ml coconut and almond milk or of your choosing. Add 50g of grated vegan cheese, or an alternative or leave out. Stir vigorously, until sauce thickens and to consistency of your liking; approx 15-20 mins add seasonings.
  • I added dried sage which I’d bought reduced. Chopped chives, again reduced and stored in the freezer, salt and pepper.
  • Add the white sauce to the dish, mixing with the veg. Top with grated cheese; I used a mix of vegan parmesan and vegan cheddar.
  • Bake for 35-40 mins until top golden.
  • I served with yellow sticker roasties and green beans I got for free but be as creative as you like.

Tastes like Plastic

I started buying reduced, yellow sticker, food simply because it was so cheap. I was amazed by the savings; it would put me on such a high. I loved calculating how much it should have cost compared to what I’d paid. I’d be telling anyone who wanted to listen, who am I kidding, interested or not I’d talk incessantly about what I’d bought. As time went on I learnt more about food storage, hygiene, safety so the range of food I bought expanded. I became all the more experimental and confidant in the kitchen, until it got to the point where yellow stickers became the bulk of my food shop.

What I’ve gained has been far more valuable than money; cookery skills, independence, interest and greater enjoyment of food and being more socially aware. I began volunteering with the food waste charity The Felix Project, and whilst it’s not a charity I donate and collect surplus food on social media app Olio. Saving restaurant food from the bin using app Too Good to Go. I have volunteered with Contact the Elderly, who arrange monthly tea parties for the elderly, for almost 10 years, yet it’s only been in recent years that I have come to appreciate the symbolism and meaning of food. That it can communicate care, belonging, value.

I don’t know that I can honestly tell you that I’ve given food to someone who is street homeless or donated to a food bank before I shopped in this way. At the most I might have thought I’ll do it next time. The truth is I would have been too concerned with myself; what do I need to buy, how much will this cost me. Whilst I have become more mindful of those less fortunate, being charitable is never selfless, at the very least it allows us to feel good about ourselves.

A popular cause at the moment is reducing plastic and the rise of zero waste. I’ve started to make small changes; using a keep cup, although this only came after my niece witnessed me trying to reuse a shop bought take away coffee cup and the contents fall out of the bottom! I use cloth bags to do my shopping, but I can’t say that this was a regular occurrence until the 5p levy. I recycle food as well as plastic and make the effort to buy cruelty free products. I guess it’s had a domino effect; be it through education from public awareness campaigns, taxes being imposed or sharing on social media.

When I post my yellow sticker hauls, food saved from the bin, on Instagram I tag eat well for less, zero waste, sustainability; a lot of the buzz words at the moment. For the most part I have a really positive response on my account and it has become a place where we can share ideas, recipes, tips. From time to time, I am attacked for my buying of single use plastic i.e. a plastic box of grapes reduced to 50p. How can I justify buying so much plastic? I try and keep calm, avoid being defensive, and hold an open dialogue, although it feels ironic having a conversation about the impact of plastic on the environment via our mobile phones which are hazardous when they too reach landfill.

I don’t have the answers, I’m not sure that @devotion2daocean does either. What I do know is that I need to eat, we all do, the food that I’m buying is otherwise heading for landfill which produces methane and has negative effects on climate change, global warming, that a huge amount of energy and resources are used to produce this food, that the supermarkets make little, if any, profit from these mark downs. I know that food waste doesn’t sit right with me when there is not only a guy going hungry outside my local Tesco’s but starvation worldwide. I know that buying yellow stickers made me aware of how big a global issue food waste is, to incorporate good habits at home, to help others where I can, adopt a plant based diet. It’s not the only issue, and tackling it doesn’t come without compromising others. Neither does plastic; what good would come from food being binned so I can say I buy no plastic or I drive across town, emitting carbon dioxide, so I can shop at the new zero waste store? There is no single answer, which can come from one person, it’s raising the uncomfortable questions, the struggle for solutions which promotes change. We grow from discomfort and it’s all too comfortable a position to say I’m right and you are wrong. So let’s come together and open an uncomfortable discussion; I’ll bring the tea and biscuits, yellow sticker of course!