4 easy ways to eat Lagom

Lagom är bäst. The right amount is best. With the average UK household throwing away £470 worth of food every year* can the Lagom approach help us?

The impact of food waste reaches far beyond our bank accounts. If food loss and waste were a country, they would be the third largest contributor to greenhouse gasses behind China and the United States (WRAP).

According to WRAP, the food that is grown for human consumption and subsequently wasted accounts for a quarter of the water used by agriculture globally.

It’s not just the process of producing and transporting food that has an impact on the environment. Have you ever wondered what happens to the food that you throw away?

Unless you’re composting your waste (and good for you if you are), it gets piled up on a landfill site, where it can take years to break down. This process generates a potent greenhouse gas, methane, which has a warming potential 21 times higher than carbon dioxide (Love Food Hate Waste).

And what about all that single-use plastic? We just don’t need it! Unless you’ve had your head in the sand you’ll know that the earth is literally drowning in plastic. A large proportion of food packaging can’t easily be recycled and even where it can, we produce too much to keep up!

Taking a more planned approach to buying and preparing food can result in a massive reduction in your contribution to the plastic problem. Plus, as a responsible adult who can (hopefully) be trusted with a blade, do you really need to pay extra to have somebody cut and package your vegetables for you?

So, even if you can afford to waste £470 a  year, cutting down on food waste is in all of our best interests.

KonMari your cupboards

Before you get stuck into anything else, you need to take stock of where you are now.

Work systematically through your kitchen cupboards, fridge and freezer. Take everything out (this is probably where you’ll discover you might need to clean them) and group items together that are alike.

I recently went through this exercise and found separate open packets of the same kinds of pasta, rice, all sorts of stuff!

This is where you might need to waste some food if you find anything out of date or open packets that have become contaminated but don’t feel too bad. This is where we reset and move on.

Once you’re happy your cupboards are clean, don’t just pile all the food back in. Use clear containers to group items into categories. Dry ingredients can go directly into jars or boxes so you can see exactly what you have and buy when it’s running out. This way you won’t be finding odd duplicates of open packets lurking anywhere.

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You don’t need to spend lots of money on organising your food. Save the jars from jams, sauces and pickles to store all kinds of dried foods, as well as leftovers. Give a new lease of life to any old Tupperware you found lurking as you were tidying up.

Use what you have, but if you need more you can pick up some perfect storage solutions inexpensively at Ikea. I love the Ikea 365+ container for bulk carbs like oats and rice. Korken jars come in a range of sizes – I use the larger ones for pasta, the medium ones for home-made sauces and the smallest are great for herbs and spices. You can also try the Rajtan jars for spices.

With a tidy kitchen, you’re ready to start your new zero waste lifestyle.

Buy what you need

Now that you know what you’ve got, it should be easier to plan your shopping for the week ahead.

Cut the time spent at the supermarket with a shopping list based on what you actually need. I find that writing a weekly menu makes it easy for me to shop. Once a week, I’ll sit down with my favourite recipe books, decide what to cook and copy only the ingredients I need for those recipes onto my list.

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A less time-consuming technique is to take a photo of the contents of your fridge so that you know what you need to re-stock. If you refer back to the photo while you’re shopping, you can think about what you need to buy to turn those left-overs you’ve got hanging around into a tasty meal.

If you go into the supermarket with a plan, you can whizz around the aisles a lot faster. You can even try writing your shopping list based on the layout of your local store. This way, you can skip whole sections because you know exactly where you need to be.

Be careful not to be drawn into multi-buy offers. For many of us, what seems like a bargain deal can lead us to buy more than we need but guess where that excess ends up? The bin. Or gathering dust at the back of the cupboard.

Savings on the items that are actually in your plan are a bonus. If there’s a multi-buy or bulk savings on an ingredient you use frequently that can be stored in the cupboard or freezer then go for it. Otherwise, resist the temptation.

Make your own lunch

According to a survey conducted by Visa in 2014, the average UK worker spends £2,500 on lunch, snacks and coffees every year (The Telegraph)

£2,500! Imagine what else you could do with that money! Of course, bringing lunch from home isn’t exactly free, but it normally costs a lot less (especially if you use your leftovers).

It’s not just your bank balance that will look a bit healthier. The average UK supermarket lunch deal can contain over 1,000 calories and up to 30 teaspoons of sugar, as well as all sorts of other nasties (The Independent).

We all know the dangers of too much fat, sugar and salt so we’re far less likely to add them in excessive amounts when we prepare food for ourselves.

Making food in advance that can be stored in microwave-ready portions saves time and money. Dried grains and pulses cost very little but make soups and stews more filling. Add some seasonal root veg and bulk cook in the Vardesatta pressure cooker for a supply of lunches to last the week (and maybe beyond).

Efterfragad

Efterfragad

If you don’t have a microwave or fridge at work, the Efterfragad will keep food warm or cold for hours. I used mine on a long train journey recently. I reheated my leftover shepherd’s pie before I left home at 08:30 and it was still piping hot at 12:30.

If you’re more of a grazer, the IKEA 365+ lunch box with inserts is perfect. Buying whole fruits and vegetables and preparing them at home is infinitely cheaper than buying them pre-prepared in pots and bags. Think of the plastic waste you’ll avoid too!

Istad bags are made from bioplastics, using byproducts from the sugar cane industry. They can be used to carry a variety of snacks and can be washed and reused over and over, then recycled when they get really worn out. Bulk-buying things like nuts and sweet treats then portioning them out is another double-winner – save cash and use less plastic in one hit!

Keep hydrated throughout the day by taking your own drink.  The Eftersokt travel mug has a no-spill lid and keeps your drink warm. If you need a top-up on the go, many coffee shops now offer a discount on refills. For cold drinks, the IKEA 365+ water bottle is perfect. Make sure you download the Refill app so you can see where you can refill with water for free.

Grow your own

According to a recent survey on the Live Lagom Facebook group, one of the most commonly wasted food items is bagged salad. According to The Guardian, per calorie growing lettuce produces more greenhouse gases such as methane than rearing pork. The production, harvesting and packaging process is also terrifyingly water-intensive. All so that we can throw away 40% of all the bagged salads we buy.

Most bagged salad doesn’t even come in packaging that can be recycled easily, if at all. All this waste seems even more maddening when you discover just how easy it is to grow salad at home.

As a serial plant-killer, the Krydda/Vaxer hydroponic system was my last-ditch attempt to cultivate at least some of my own food. I’d previously only had luck with chillis so I was desperate to broaden my variety of crops.

Whilst my adventures in indoor gardening have had varied results (can anyone actually get cilantro to grow!), the one thing that I’ve had no trouble with is salad. Leaves like bok choi, endive and chicory seem to grow at such a rate I’ve started to blame them for hogging the light from the other plants.

The Krydda/Vaxer set takes very little room so even those who live in smaller properties with no outdoor space can grow their own crops and ditch those salad bags.

If you have space (and possibly the patience), don’t stop there. Growing your own can become quite an addictive hobby. There’s an immense sense of pride you’ll get when you eat something that you’ve nurtured from a seedling, especially when it tastes better than anything you normally buy.

Still not convinced? If gardening really isn’t your thing, you can still cut waste and reduce food miles (reducing CO2 emissions) by buying fresh produce that was grown locally. Search online to find the best local grocers, farmers markets and farm shops. Kungfors bags are perfect for transporting and storing your purchases.

Feeling inspired? Head to Love Food Hate Waste for more ideas, news and advice.

Disclaimer: I am not paid by IKEA, although they have kindly helped me on my Lagom journey with free merchandise. 

Find out more about Living the Lagom life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 Ways To Cosy Up This Winter

The endlessly scorching summer of 2018 feels like a distant memory. Spring is around the corner, but February and March can get pretty bleak.

With rising energy costs, the winter can be an expensive time of year. How can you stay warm and cosy in your home without cranking the heating up to the max?

This was the topic of the first in a series of Ikea Live Lagom workshops. What small changes could we make for the biggest impact?

Don’t let the cold in

Are you letting the cold air sneak in through gaps in door and window frames?

If drafts are leaving you shivering, that means you’re letting warmth escape and essentially letting the money you spend on heating drift into thin air.

Long-term fixes can cost a lot of money, but there are things you can do in the short-term to block those gaps.

If you’ve got any big-ish pieces of fabric lying around, you could give them a new life as a draft-excluder. This could be old curtains, bedding, off-cuts – anything.

Draft Excluder

Everyone got involved at the Cosy Homes workshop at Ikea Southampton

Cut a rectangle as long as the width of the offending door or window, fold it lengthways and sew up the side. Then you can stuff it with any old fabric. Can’t sew? Roll it up, stuff it and tie the ends off like a big sweetie! A child can do it!

When we made ours at the Cosy Homes workshop, we used old duvets, cushions, shirts – it doesn’t even matter if it turns out lumpy because it’s going to sit on the floor.

Thick curtains can also trap in heat. For extra insulation, team them up with the Hoppvals cellular blind. Air is trapped in the blind’s honeycomb structure which helps to keep the cold out.

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These plush, thick blackout curtains from Ikea keep drafts out. They’re full-length so if you need to shorten them, use the off-cuts for other projects (I used mine for a draft excluder!)

Create a cosy glow

Warm lighting might not technically keep you warm, but it can help you to wind down and relax in the evening.

Candles and tea lights can create a cosy atmosphere, although since they have a finite lifespan, you’ll need to keep replacing them.

Whilst I love filling my room with candles on a Sunday evening as I prepare for the week ahead, I appreciate they’re not for everyone – especially those with children and pets.

Sjopenna

The Sjopenna gives off a warm glow and the LED bulb has the highest energy efficiency rating, saving money too!

Fairy lights are a great way to create a similar effect. I usually pick some up during the sales after Christmas. Modern LED fairy lights can last twenty times longer than older ones and the low power consumption means many will run off AA batteries so you can put them anywhere you like. Rechargeable batteries are now a lot cheaper than they used to be and will save you money in the long-term.

Smart bulbs can give you control of the warmth and even the colour of your lighting from your mobile or remote control. I have several Tradfri bulbs connected to my Samsung Smartthings system which means I can include them in ‘routines.’ For example, my wake-up routine turns the coffee machine on downstairs, which is on a Tradfri plug, and also turns my landing light on, set to a warm orange so I can see but I’m not immediately blinded. When I leave for work, my ‘goodbye’ routine turns everything off so I’m not wasting power. 

Layer up

We’re not talking about pulling on an extra jumper here, although that would probably help you to turn down the heating by a couple of degrees.

Layering different fabrics is a very Scandinavian way of cosying up over winter. Some households even have different textiles for different seasons which sounds like a perfect way to keep your home looking fresh!

Rug

I was after this plush and colourful rug for a while so I was super happy to find it in the Ikea sale

A nice thick rug can insulate from below and make your floor a lot more pleasant to walk on. It’s also a relatively low-cost way to introduce some colour.

I have several Tanum rugs in my bathrooms which protect my feet from the cold floors in the mornings. They’re hand-woven by skilled craftspeople in Bangladesh from the offcuts of fabrics used to produce other Ikea textiles so no two are alike.

Style up sofas and chairs with soft, snuggly throws – perfect for a night nestled down in front of the television with the rain lashing down outside. My favourite is the Lisamari which brightens up my grey sofa and is so soft and warm I often fall asleep under it.

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The Lisamari throw is perfect for cosy nights in

Keep your duvet to yourself

If you’ve ever stayed in a hotel in Scandinavia, you’ve probably noticed that your double bed will be topped with not one but two duvets.

In parts of the world where winters can be bitter, it’s a simple but genius way to make sure you spend the night sealed up in your own little cosy cocoon.

If your significant other runs at a different temperature to you, it also allows you to have your own individual ‘tog-rating.’ This way, one doesn’t end up too hot or too cold to suit the other.

Definitely something I’ll be trying when our winter duvet has its day.

Disclaimer: I am not paid by IKEA, although they have kindly helped me on my Lagom journey with free merchandise. 

Find out more about Living the Lagom life.

 

 

 

What Can You Get With £100 At Ikea?

The first step on my Live Lagom journey was an in-store induction where I met Outi and Vale who lead the program in the Southampton branch.

The purpose was to introduce the Lagom concept and set our intentions for the year.

The 2019 cohort was joined by some of the previous participants who shared inspiring stories of the changes they had made and how they were reaping the rewards.

Lagom isn’t just about the changes you make for one year that the Live Lagom ambassador scheme runs for. Lagom is for life and the class of 2018 were proof of this.

Lagomers old and new can also be found on the Live Lagom Facebook group which is always buzzing with conversation and advice.

At the induction, we were invited to talk about our lifestyles and our homes. Everybody already seemed to be doing a great job in their efforts to live more sustainably. However, each one of us could very quickly identify areas in our lives where we could be doing even better.

A quiz revealed that many of us, including myself, could be making savings or reducing waste in ways we hadn’t even considered. One of the biggest surprises for me was how much money we throw away on energy due to inefficient lighting or insufficient insulation.

I had so many ideas for ways to Live Lagom but I needed to focus on one area. Being a keen home-cook, I decided to make the kitchen my target.

I make most of my food from scratch and I love to experiment with dishes from all over the world. This means lots of ingredients. How could I be more organised and minimise waste?

In particular, I have always been frustrated about buying salad leaves and fresh herbs. They always come in non-recyclable bags and I often end up discarding leftovers because there’s only two of us in my household.

I’ve attempted to grow my own but it’s always ended in failure. Could the supposedly ‘fool-proof’ hydroponic kit be the answer?

With my goal in mind, I arranged to meet Outi in-store to spend my £100 Lagom allowance. Here’s what I managed to pick up:

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KRYDDA/VÄXER Grow kit w 8 pots, 1 tier

This contains:

  • An LED cultivation light
  • A Krydda cultivation unit
  • An insert for the cultivation unit
  • A nursery box with lid
  • Growing media plugs to start seedlings
  • Growing media for planting the seedlings as they grow
  • Fertiliser

Everything I need to get started with my farming-in-miniature! The LED light has a special colour spectrum to mimic sunlight – necessary in a country like the UK.

VÄXER Seeds

These are only £1.50 for three packs and you get so many! There are a few options to choose from so I picked one of each. I’m confident they’ll last quite a while – according to the instructions on the packet you only need to plant between one and three each time but you seem to get loads!

KORKEN Jar with lid

I got a few of these to store herbs and spices which I buy in bulk. They have airtight lids so they’re also great for storing home-made sauces and pickles or small quantities of leftovers.

IKEA 365+ Dry food jar with lid

I always have a supply of rice and porridge oats. Like a lot of dry foods, I buy in bulk to save money and waste. Keeping them in clear containers will help me to keep track of how much I have left.

EFTERFRÅGAD Food vacuum flask

I am a big fan of home-cooked packed lunches (I can’t remember when I last bought lunch at work). You know exactly what you’re eating and it costs a lot less. I’ve always had plastic containers which eventually break or hold onto strong colours and flavours. I have two of these on rotation now and I love that they’re totally leak-proof and the metal is easy to get really clean between uses.

IKEA 365+ Food containers with IKEA 365+ Lids

As well as rice and oats, you’ll always find flour and pasta in my kitchen and these larger tubs are perfect for keeping moisture and bugs out. I tend to have several varieties of flour so once the bags are open I stack them all up in one container.

As you can see, £100 was plenty to get started on my Lagom journey. I actually needed a bit of help from Outi to spend it all! I’m confident that my final purchases will help me to meet my sustainability goals in the kitchen.

 

Living the Lagom life

Lagom (pronounced [²lɑːɡɔm]) is a Swedish word meaning “just the right amount”. The Lexin Swedish-English dictionary defines lagom as “enough, sufficient, adequate, just right”. Lagom is also widely translated as “in moderation”, “in balance”, “perfect-simple”, and “suitable” (in matter of amounts). Wikipedea

Lagom is a lovely word. It even feels nice to say, like lagoon. Peaceful. Simple.

Lagom is not a word to describe my lifestyle.

My lifestyle, outside of the 9 to 5, revolves around food, drink and cycling. This involves a lot of stuff. ‘Just the right amount’ is a concept that rarely enters my head as I spot another ‘essential’ bike jersey or add another ‘must-have’ ingredient to my precariously stacked spice shelves.

So, in September last year when I received an email from IKEA inviting applications to join their Lagom community, I was intrigued. Could they help me to clean up my act?

Saving more, wasting less and living healthily can be easy and affordable. And that’s what our Live LAGOM community is all about. Lagom Community invitation

Well, since the program kicked off in November I haven’t managed to kick the cycling kit addiction or streamline my shelves in the kitchen. However, I’m already making changes to bring Lagom into my life in ways that I hadn’t expected.

This year, follow me on my Lagom journey. I’ll be sharing some of the changes I’ve made and hopefully inspiring some of you to bring a little Lagom into your life.

Join the Live Lagom Facebook group for friendly chat and advice

Disclaimer: I am not paid by IKEA, although they have kindly helped me on my Lagom journey with free merchandise.