By Kathryn Vale

It all started in 2014 with spontaneous group lunches that became part of weekday life in the building project that was our new home.

All the builders came indoors for a ‘project meeting’ at lunchtime with their lunches, and I realised that other people’s food always looks so much more exciting than your own.

I had already noticed this green-eyed truth with our kids and teenagers. They always found their friends’ parents more cool and desirable than boring ol’ samey mum and dad – sigh! tut! sigh! Mmm, I thought: coveting is a basic human driver (hence TWO commandments against it in the Bible).

So over five years this covetous group lunch became formalised into ‘Fridge Parfait’. It goes like this.

You look in your fridge and see all that same old food you are bored with, or only have half a portion of and never liked that much in the first place. Then you fire off texts to ten or so friends and relations – a scattergun approach works well, especially with people who live on their own or work from home or are builders or itinerant workers for whom the norm is a lonely sandwich (on a scaffold, or in the car park between clients) – ‘FP 2day 1.15.’

The rules are to bring with you the unwanted contents of your fridge and fruit bowl, half bottles of anything you are bored with, surplus garden produce and scavenged fruit (blackberries, windfall apples etc.). Then you turn up at the appointed time, put everything on the table, and get stuck in.

Miraculously, the right people turn up (never all ten together), networking opportunities are splendid – but it’s a workers’ lunch, so everyone goes away again within the hour – and no-one has thrown any food away: WE ATE IT. If there’s anything left over, you can take it home, provided that you didn’t bring it (unless you’ve been suddenly re-imagining your sad bit of cheddar and left-over rice). But frankly this almost never happens.

Now we can all look in our fridges without dread of what’s still lurking there – until the next time.

People ask – “What if there’s not enough to go round?” This has never happened yet. But I’m told by experts that it’s then re-branded an ‘Oxfam Lunch’ and six people sit with empty plates while the lucky pair who have plated up try to work out how to cope (instant Global Politics tutorial).

Fridge Parfait strategy also works brilliantly at Christmas. FP after-parties, where your half-a-trifle, battered mince pies and weary stilton get wolfed by those who haven’t had any yet, and you can get to eat marzipan (hooray!) and haggis (what?) that weren’t part of your own supplies owing to family prejudice and traditions.

The latest doomcasts claim that 10-20% of all food produced is wasted – well, not round ours it isn’t. Coveting is great. Do it with Fridge Parfait.

Food Waste Statistics

In 2015 UK household food waste was 7.1m tons, worth about
£15 bn – so about £470 per household per year.

The avoidable waste generates 19m tonnes of greenhouse gases, the equivalent of one in four cars on the road.

In order to meet national food waste targets, there needs
to be a two thirds reduction in these figures by 2025. 

(source: Waste and Resources Action Programme

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