The best thing since sliced bread?

Food charity partners with sarnie supremo Max Halley for National Sandwich Week (20-26th May)

GLORIOUS sandwiches have become a comfort staple of the British diet. Whether it be thrown together from leftovers at home, meticulously constructed in front of you in a cafe, or packaged as part of your trusty go-to meal deal, it seems almost everything tastes better between two slices of bread.

In fact, data shows as a nation we consume over 3 billion sandwiches a year – enough to feed every individual in the UK 40 times. According to a recent survey half of us are eating sandwiches at least a few times a week, most commonly as a lunchtime meal (76%), with convenience, affordability and comfort cited as the top three reasons for eating them.

Turning 15 this year, FoodCycle has championed connection over meals for more than a decade.  Every week, volunteers serve up a three course meal to over 3,000 people and this year will see them reach their milestone of serving 3.5 million meals and supporting 100 communities.

Bread is one of the most frequently donated items to FoodCycle from partner organisations alongside other produce. Interestingly, research shows bread is one of the top things consumers end up throwing away alongside bananas and salad because they don’t have time to use it up (28%) or they buy too much (26%).

To mark their birthday celebrations and British Sandwich Week 2024 (20th – 26th May), the charity has partnered with sarnie supremo Max Halley, owner of Max’s Sandwich Shop and author of a series of sandwich-and-picnic-based recipe books, awarding him the honorary title of “Chief Sandwich Officer, or CSO”. As part of the honorary role, he has shared his recipe with community dining volunteers across the UK, and has provided a series of tips for using up common leftovers between two pillowy slices of bread. A taster is provided below but head here for the full monty:

●      How to use up leftover bread

There is of course the famous Panzanella Salad made with old bread. We keep any offcuts of bread to turn into croutons (‘they said you couldn’t put bread in a sandwich, but they didn’t think about deep frying it’ ), or you can make breadcrumbs that keep for a very long time. Toasted sandwiches are also miles better made with stale bread than fresh bread.

●      Condiments are a gift to veggie sandwiches (and vice versa!).

I always LOVE vinaigrette (olive oil, lemon juice, salt) in a sandwich which people often don’t think of for some reason. Mixing your condiment/sauce of choice into mayo is a real Sarnie Secret too, so much easier to spread evenly.

●      Thermos flasks a miracle of modern science: how to use leftovers and have a waste free picnic

Oh my gosh this is a favourite – I wrote a whole mad book about picnics actually (Max’s Picnic Book). The Thermos Flask is a miracle of modern science that keeps hot things hot and cold things cold – take any leftovers that need to be cold and keep it cold for hours such as the last of your ice cream, or reheat literally anything you might have for your tea the night before! Remember to take some tupperware and cutlery with you to tip things into – or of course plates if you wanna feel fancy.

For those in London, Max will be serving up a special vegetarian sandwich from 25th to 26th May at his shop, with £1 from every sarnie bought being donated to FoodCycle.

FoodCyle only serves meat-free food to ensure meals are accessible to people of all cultures and religions. The majority (64%) of sandwich-eaters surveyed feel that veggie sandwich options have become more interesting in recent times – a figure that is even higher (87%) amongst vegetarians – some of the more adventurous meat-free combinations that consumers are fond of include Nutella & Cucumber; Chocolate & Cheese; Ketchup & Banana, and even a Pot Noodle Sarnie. 

Max Halley comments:

“Being given the honorary title of Chief Sandwich Officer by FoodCycle is one of the great honours of my life and the best thing since sliced bread. And I should know. At my sandwich shop we make all our sandwiches to order which not only guarantees freshness but massively minimises waste!

I love thinking about all the amazing, delicious and unexpected things you might be able to put between two bits of bread, and many of my greatest creations have come from leftovers. Leftovers are a gift to creative sandwiching and I encourage everyone to not think about recreating the meal they had before but coming up with an amazing sandwich!!! We all love getting together for a nice meal and I cannot wait to see what amazing new, never-seen-before creations you all come up with! And please remember, anything can go in a sandwich, you might just need to blend it up and mix it into mayonnaise first!!!”

Fighting food poverty, food waste and loneliness are as important as ever –,compared%20to%20the%20year%20before.

Close to half (49%) of Brits say that sharing a meal is the best way to connect with family and friends. And while the vast majority (81%) of Brits feel that sharing a meal with family and friends improves mental wellbeing, 20% say they do not do this as often as they would like to. Last year, FoodCycle opened 22 new projects across the country and the number of people that ate a FoodCycle community meal increased by a staggering 57% – a trend expected to continue in 2024.

“We really believe in the power of sharing food, whether that’s a three course meal or a tasty sandwich shared on a picnic blanket.  As summer approaches we wanted to team up with Max to help make sharing food sustainable, simple and fun.  We hope that Max’s waste saving sandwich recipes will encourage people to get creative, come together and enjoy the magic of a shared meal,” shares Sophie Tebbetts, FoodCycle CEO.

Breaking bread in community is central to the charity FoodCycle’s mission to fight food poverty, loneliness and food waste, and according to their data, 1 in 2 Brits believe that eating together benefits mental health, is cheaper and reduces food waste. Every week FoodCycle volunteers transform surplus food into vegetarian, healthy and nutritious meals, known as community meals. This provides a free cooked meal and company, where everyone is welcome.

Help FoodCycle save food headed for the bin, and turn it into tasty meals for your local community. Consider trying out some of Max’s tips  for turning your leftovers into a sandwich, or heading over to Max’s Sandwich Shop from 25th-26th May to try his veggie special where £1 will be donated to FoodCycle.