Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Day 1 - baking and beer

Okay, Waste Free Week here we come!

It dawned on me as I got breakfast that I had already fallen behind my plans - I had meant to bake some cake bars on Sunday for packed lunches in the week, but I was catching up on Freecycle moderating and forgot (a moderator's work is never done ;). But, to prove that you CAN fit this sort of thing in with "normal life", I made them in the morning, before I went to work. Eat your heart out Nigella. So today you lovely readers get a waste blog and a recipe!

Here are my ingredients, measured out while my porridge was microwaving:

180g oats
180g Grape Nuts

60g light brown sugar

60g butter or margarine, room temperature

240g dried fruit/nuts (this time - apricots, dates, sultanas, stem ginger in syrup, lemon zest)
2 medium eggs
220ml fruit juice (local pressed apple) or cold tea
spices to taste (1tsp ground ginger)

The only thing I used up was the Grape Nuts; everything else went back in the cupboard. The Grape Nuts inner bag was my First Bit Of Waste, quickly joined by the plastic seal from the glass juice bottle, but the other "waste" was recyclable or compostable. I know the store cupboard's plastic packets (sugar, sultanas, margarine) will have to go in the bin in the end, but there are good things too like jumbo oats (local mill via farm shop) in a paper sack. We also buy large amounts of things like oats and sultanas where practical, to get more stuff for less packaging.

The recipe method is very quick and easy, and I was just about able to mix it and get it in the oven just about by the time my porridge was done (3 minutes) and cool enough to eat! Basically:

Mix all the dry stuff together (chopping any large fruit like dates and apricots), then whisk the eggs up with the juice and stir that into the dry ingredients. Stir in the butter (chop it into little bits if it helps). Quickly grease a 9" square cake tin (or similar) and press the mixture down into it. Baking time is about 25 mins at 180C in my fan oven. Allow to cool, and cut (9" pan nicely makes 4x4 squares).

While it was cooking I ate breakfast and had a shower; the cake needs to cool but by the time I had made my lunch and got my stuff together for work, it was just about ready to cut.

So this is the waste I generated in the process: one plastic inner bag and one bottle seal. Next to it is the sort of thing I would usually buy. However, it's not a fair comparison. The boxed cereal bars last me a week, but the recipe above makes 16 individual bars/squares, so you have to think of 3 boxes and 15 wrappers as a comparison. I think even if you count the bars as responsible for the eventual binning of part of a sugar bag and a margarine tub etc., it's reasonable. And I like to think they are tastier and healthier too! Ta-daaa:

So, breakfast done, lunch and cake done, what about dinner? A group of us went out to the Norwich Beer Festival, stopping off at Wagamama on the way. Is eating out cheating? Hmm. Only as I write this do I realise that I could (should?) have kept the disposable chopsticks to reuse as plant supports or something! However, the beer festival itself has to be one of the lowest-waste nights out you can have - one glass, re-used all night, and most of the beer out of barrels (only exotic imports come in bottles). I will try and ask if they recycle the paper tokens (used to avoid cash at the bars) but I suspect the organisers may be busy this week!

So, can it really be true? One poly bag and a bottle seal for the day? Okay, I admit to a few tissues and two bits of chewing gum at work. And I haven't fully interrogated Mark as to his day either. But that's it! Tomorrow may be a truer test as we'll be eating at home...


  1. Wowee, Katy; making snack bars before breakfast earns you some serious zero waste kudos. Thanks for sharing the recipe and telling us about your adventures and well done on your minimal waste.

    mrs green

  2. Thank you! I suppose what I am trying to say is that is shouldn't earn me too much kudos as it wasn't as hard as you might think! But really I would rather have been organised enough to remember on Sunday afternoon :)

    Two comments though: Perhaps I also have a slight advantage in that I have made the recipe lots before, and so I'm a bit on autopilot. And also, because I am used to making my morning porridge to a recipe (measuring oats, fruit, nuts and milk, and cooking it) I guess I am already in that sort of mindset even though it's early. My kitchen scales live on the worktop all the time.

  3. That really is a fab start despite being on autopilot. Autopilot bakery is truly the way to go when it comes to cutting down on packaging. During our Zero Waste Week we had to include everything that we bought whilst on the go...gee, it made me really picky and I would have had to have brought the chopsticks home. Hope you had a great night out :-D