The Big Lunch is a very simple idea from the Eden Project. The aim is to get as many people as possible across the whole of the UK to have lunch with their neighbours in a simple act of community, friendship and fun.
In 2012 The Big Lunch falls on the same weekend as The Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations on Sunday 3rd June and, as announced by Buckingham Palace, The Big Jubilee Lunch will be a part of the main programme of events over the central weekend of the Diamond Jubilee.
Last year on Sunday 5th June the best part of two million people took part.
A record number of people are expected to take part this year. Why not be one of them?
A Big Lunch can be anything from a few neighbours getting together in the garden or on the street, to a full blown street party with food, music and decoration that quite literally stops the traffic.
It's up to you and your community what to eat and drink at your Big Lunch but why not aim for zero food waste - either not creating it in the first place or storing your leftover good food for another time?
It'll mean less clean up time and save some real money too.
You might want to plan a gourmet menu of recipes from around the world; or you might just want to put out some simple sandwiches and snacks for people to share. But whatever you choose, the key thing is to make it waste free!
We waste over 7 million tonnes and £12 billion worth of good food and drink every year in the UK just from our homes, but with a little planning, together with a few cool boxes and supply of freezer packs, it’s easy to be well equipped for keeping food safe, fresh & tasty for longer.
Use these helpful tips from Love Food Hate Waste to make your food go further this Big Lunch:
It's surprising how many tasty dishes can be made from ingredients we already have in our cupboards and fridges. In fact, every day we throw away food that is perfect for summer al fresco dining: including around 5 million potatoes, nearly three million tomatoes, and one million slices of ham.
Get everyone to check their cupboards and fridges (and make a list) before making that special Big Lunch shopping trip this year - you might just save pounds on the cost of food, leaving more money for the extras like bunting!
- Try to estimate how many people will be coming and only buy for that amount to avoid throwing food away. Love Food Hate Waste's perfect portion planner can help.
- Get the storage right and your food will keep fresher for longer. Salad should always go in the fridge, bread in the bread bin or freezer (never the fridge), fruit and veg (except bananas, whole pineapple, potatoes and onions) should be kept in the fridge and keep things like sliced meats and cheese in an air-tight container once opened. Keep an eye on pack instructions too for more information once opened. If you have bought anything approaching its 'use by' date pop it in the freezer as this acts like a pause button until the day before when you can defrost it overnight in the fridge to use the next day.
- Don't forget to check the temperature of your fridge - keeping it below a cool 5oC will keep your food fresher for longer.
- Every day we throw away the equivalent of 37 million slices of bread. Why not freeze your bread in the run up to your event as a way of saving money.
- If you have some lettuce or salad leaves and they’re looking tired and wilted put them in a bowl of water with a couple of ice-cubes and they will become nice and crisp again. Don't forget to keep all your salad in the fridge before the event to keep it at its best. People often say not to chill tomatoes as they lose their taste - that's true if they're fresh off the plant but if they’ve been previously chilled keep them in the fridge.
- Quiches are an ideal way to help use up eggs, veggies and any spare (or previously frozen and whipped) cream. Fry up some onions for a classic caramelised onion tart; a perfect, simple dish which you can keep in the cool box and out of the sun till needed.
- Fill sandwiches with tasty and unexpected combinations of leftovers, such as chicken, bacon and mayonnaise, leftover roast lamb and mint sauce or cheese and coleslaw.
- Try making leftover potatoes (or ones that have gone a bit sprouty) into a tasty salad with sliced red or spring onions and mayonnaise - a tasty salad that also travels well.
- Fruit juice, smoothies and yoghurts can be frozen into ice-lolly moulds, perfect for keeping the children entertained.
- Put frozen, previously cooked, sausages and cold meats straight into your picnic bag early in the morning. They should be defrosted by the time you reach your picnic spot, but still be nice and chilled.
- Why not chop up some spare veg from your salad drawer into little crudités for dunking into hummus or your favourite dip?
- Did you know you can freeze cheese? Make sandwiches with frozen grated cheese and frozen sliced bread - it will defrost by the time you're ready to eat.
- Spare lemons squeezed, combined with sugar and sparkling spring water make refreshing lemonade. Alternatively, sliced lemons can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer to use as refreshing fruity ice-cubes in cold drinks - try frozen grapes as an alternative ice cube!
- And once you're ready to go always remember to use a cool box or cool bag with some ice bricks or frozen juice cartons to help keep food fresh and tasty. Leave food out of the fridge for the shortest time possible, and no more than a couple of hours.
Don't forget to tweet about Love Food Hate Waste as you're tucking into your Big Lunch and remember to post photos at their Facebook site - Love Food Hate Waste Community.
For more invaluable tips and great recipes for a cost-effective, enjoyable Big Lunch, visit www.lovefoodhatewaste.com