On average in the U.K, we throw away enough food each year to fill Wembley Stadium 8 times, according to WRAP (Waste & Resource Action Programme charity). Shockingly, 70% of this food waste comes from households, with the remaining 30% coming from manufacturing, retail & hospitality.
Not only does this have a negative impact on the environment & our carbon footprint, but it is also a waste of money! This is estimated to be £60 wasted per month for the average U.K family of 4 or 8 wasted meals per week. Here we will discuss some easy tips to help you on the way to reducing your food waste.
1 - Organise Your Fridge & Cupboard
One of the main contributors to food waste, is not consuming your food in time before it goes off. A way to counter this issue is to organise your food storage spaces, placing the foods with the soonest expiry date at the front & placing long-life products at the back. This will help you see the older food that needs to get eaten first so that it doesn’t get wasted.
2 - Store Your Food Effectively
Storing food properly can help you prolong their life, which in turn gives you more time to enjoy them. Storing your leftovers in see-through containers increases the likelihood of eating them later on. When you can see what's inside your containers at a quick glance, you are more likely to use them.
For your leafy greens (e.g. Spinach, Lettuce) give them a rinse and wrap them in a cloth tea towel to keep them fresh for longer. For your fresh berries (e.g. Strawberries, Blueberries) rinse them in a bowl with water & vinegar. The vinegar in the water will help prolong their life by eliminating any surface bacteria and mold spores. Don't forget to rinse the berries well to remove the vinegar before you store them. Berries also like to be stored in glass containers!
3 - Your Freezer Is Your Friend
Using your freezer effectively helps reduce food waste and can help you save time and effort in the future. First its best to start by organising your freezer so that it works well for you. I like to divide my freezer drawers into categories such as fruit & veg, meats and prepared foods. This will make it much easier to see what you already have available and more likely to use your items.
For ground/minced meats, you are aiming to use these within 4 months, where as fresh meat such as fillets, breasts or large cuts of meat should be eaten between 4 -12 months. Cooked meats will last around 6 months. For this reason, it is important to label your frozen foods.
4 - Make A Shopping List
This step is easy and very effective. It will help reduce your food waste & food bills, as it will help you purchase what you need. Taking a look at what you already have at home will help give you an idea of what meals you can make out of those ingredients and what extras you may need. Doing this will make a huge difference to reduce food waste and help you save money by preventing over buying.
It can sound like a tedious job to take stock of what you have and write a list before going shopping. But when you take some time at the beginning to get these basics down, it will be much quicker and easier later on. A trick to speed up the list writing is to have a note pad close at hand or buy a magnetic notepad & pen to stick on your fridge. Each time you throw away an empty item, for example ketchup, milk or toilet roll, add it to the list right away. By the time your shopping trip comes around, most of your essential items will already
be on the list!
5 - Leftovers & Over Serving
When someone is over-served a meal, the leftovers tend to go straight in the bin. What a waste! Serving smaller portions or better yet, allowing the person to serve themselves or dictate how large they would like their portion, will help reduce over-serving and food waste. This will give you the opportunity to store the untouched food as leftovers for a packed lunch or dinner the following day. If you are not one for eating the same meal consecutively, freeze your leftovers and save yourself the cooking time in the future!
6 - Use The 'Scraps'
Yep, you read that right. There are ways of using some of your food scraps for future meals. An easy, waste free snack you can prepare with your potato peels, would be to fry or bake the potato peels until crispy. This makes a delicious snack or even a starter to share with your meal, served with dip!
You can keep a Tupperware in your freezer to keep your veggie peels and carrot tops etc which you can use to make a delicious vegetable stock to flavour your future meals such as soups, stews or pasta sauces. With regards to your fresh herbs, you can chop them up finely and place them into an ice cube tray. Cover the herbs with melted butter or oil prior to freezing. These herby ice cubes can then be added to future meals for instant herby goodness!
7 - What Are You Throwing Away?
Make a note of what you are throwing away. Being aware of the regular items that end up unused and in the bin most often can help you reduce this behaviour in the future. For example, is it usually fresh produce that end up being thrown away most often? Why not make the switch to frozen veggies instead? Frozen veggies are nutritious and you can use just the amount you need for your meal, with no waste!
Once you have highlighted the regular culprits, you can plan on making an effort to use these items more often, find a frozen alternative or purchase less quantity next time, so they can avoid the bin in the future!
I hope you find these tips helpful. Until next time...