Did you know that a 1/3rd of ALL food produced globally is lost or gets wasted? This works out at about 1.3 billion tonnes per year (Source: Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology). Although a lot of that is between the producer and the market, a significant amount is still down to us. There’s lots of things you can do to reduce your food waste, so we are going to share some of our favourite ways.
1. Meal planning/buying only what you need
Learning to meal plan, or simple just buying with intention, is a great way to make sure you don’t over buy and waste food. We always buy what we fancy eating that week, as well as our staples, knowing how much we will eat. Then we simply make meals around what needs using up first. We prefer this method, and we love to cook, so it gives us a chance to experiment in the kitchen. Another important element is learning to control your portions. You can do this by only making what you know you’ll eat, so small amounts of leftovers don’t end up getting wasted.
2. Buy fresh produce in the discounted section
This is a great one! Buying fresh produce in the discount bin is much cheaper and you are stopping the food being wasted. We don’t worry if something in the discount bin is wrapped in plastic, as the plastic already exists and is going to end up in landfill anyway, so we might as well save the food at this point. We find lots of exotic fruits that are not grown locally this way; bananas, mangoes and pineapples are some of our favourite finds. Sometimes eating sustainably isn’t always obvious, so take advantage of those discount avocados when you are in the middle of winter in the UK!
3. Make meals in bulk and freeze
We love doing this as it’s also a time saver! For example we like to make a big portion of spaghetti bolognese. We eat it the night of, then freeze the rest into portions so we can have easy meals another day. It’s not only a great way of not wasting food, but on those lazy nights when you don’t want to cook you have a healthy meal ready to go, instead of being tempted by eating out or ordering in a takeaway.
4. Storing food properly to make it last
A great benefit of buying locally grown organic produce is that there is very little time that it has taken from being picked to reaching you. We find that our food lasts much longer when we have bought locally grown. However there are many ways you can store your fresh produce to make it last longer. Ensure you research what is appropriate for the produce you buy. A great example is storing your carrots in water in the fridge to keep them crunchy!
5. Create easy meals to use up your leftovers
When we get to the end of the week and we tend to chuck all our leftover veggies in an easy soup or curry. It’s a super simple way to use up all your leftovers in one go, as most vegetables will work. We can whip these meals up in around 30 minutes or so and it’s an easy way to stop veggies getting wasted!
6. Give your leftovers away
If you have food you know you won’t get a chance to eat, or even prep for future use, then why not give it away. You could simply give it to a neighbour, friends or family. There are also apps such as Olio which aims to connect people with excess food to those who need it.
7. Turn your stale bread into breadcrumbs or croutons
We love to buy bread from our local bakery, but if we don’t eat it that day, it tends to go stale. We hate wasting food so we always use up the leftovers, either by making breadcrumbs or croutons! For both, tear or cut the bread into small pieces, about 1 inch or smaller. Keep plain if making breadcrumbs, or add a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper for croutons. Bake at 150C/300F until the bread has dried out or crisped up. Use a food processor to turn the plain bread into breadcrumbs, and enjoy the croutons as is!
8. Compost what you can’t eat
Composting food waste and veggie/fruit scraps is a great way to stop leftover food ending up in landfill. If food ends up in landfill, it breaks down without oxygen creating methane, a potent greenhouse gas. By composting, the food waste breaks down with oxygen and doesn’t release methane into the atmosphere. A compost heap can be as simple as a pile in the garden, but there are a range of different options available depending on your situation.
Composting doesn’t have to be complicated. There are a lot of rules that can put people new to composting off, but it really can be very simple. You can compost most natural things – everything from fruit and vegetable scraps, loose tea leaves, coffee grounds, cardboard (non-shiny), twigs, leaves, plant cuttings, grass clippings, newspaper, weeds, shredded paper, egg shells, straw, hay, food leftovers, wood chips to sawdust. To compost, you have to find a balance of what is known as brown (carbon) and green (nitrogen) materials. A healthy compost pile should have much more brown than green materials.
Reducing food waste is so important to us, and we hope we’ve given you a few ideas to get you started.