I have been reading the recipe book "Economy Gastronomy", by Allegra McVedy and Paul Merrett, from which we've cooked some good recipes lately, and have been rather horrified by the figures on the vast amount of food wasted in the UK. Although we are fairly good about using up things in the 'fridge and freezer, sometimes packets or tins get forgotten about at the back of the cupboard.
I'm going through our larder at the moment, finding those things which should be used up before they need to be thrown away, and working out what to do with them.
Amongst various other bits and pieces, I've found the following:
Two packets of barley - there's a great barley salad recipe involving goats' cheese in Economy Gastronomy (p.199), but an even simpler meal is barley cooked in stock with some vegetables or salad and grated cheese. (The barley needs to cook for around half an hour, but needs minimal preparation.)
The end of a bag of couscous - also good with cheese or bacon and vegetables or pesto.
Red lentils, nearing their sell-by date - 4 oz can be made into lentil soup with a tin of tomatoes, an onion, and about a pint of stock. (Again, extremely easy, to make and takes about half an hour to cook.)
Green lentils - with onions, stock and garlic, could be made into a mush to accompany sausages.
Half a pack of walnuts - will be used to make a lovely coffee and walnut cake - a normal victoria sponge with a dash of strong coffee in both the cake mixture and the icing, and decorated with the walnuts.
Nuts, seeds and dried fruit - I found quite a few ends of packets - could all be added to homemade granola. (By the way, I've found that keeping all small baking supplies like nuts and cooking chocolate in a small box in the cupboard helps to reduce the chance of my buying duplicates.)