Reducing our food waste takes practice. A 2020 WRAP report estimates that around 70% of post-farm-gate food waste, comes from households. The average UK household stills wastes around £700 a year of food. Food Waste is bad for the environment as it increases CO2 emissions which lead to global warming. It's also bad for our pocket. Here are my Top 10 Tips on how you can reduce your food waste at home.
1. Plan your Meals
It may sound simple yet most of us rarely do this and resort instead to buying on impulse. Planning what we’re going to eat and heading to the shops with a list can help dramatically cut our food waste as well as save money as we avoid buying food unnecessarily.
2.Measure out portions and avoid cooking too much.
A lot of food is wasted when we cook too much. Measuring out portions of things such as rice and pasta can really help reduce food waste. Mashed potato can be frozen if you cook too much and is a great stand by. Just roll it into balls about the size of an egg and freeze on a tray.
3.Freeze leftover portions and have regular ‘Eat the Freezer’ weeks.
Regularly using up the food in the freezer is important to avoid waste. Too often, food stays in our freezers for long periods of time until we no longer want to eat it. Remember, food will never go off in your freezer, but the texture and taste may deteriorate over a long period of time. Check out my Freezer Tip on Reducing Food Waste.
4.Understand the difference between ‘Use By’ and ‘Best Before’ dates.
‘Use by’ dates refer to food safety whereas ‘Best Before’ dates are only about the quality of the food. It is fine to eat food after the ‘Best Before’ date. As with the freezer, it is only the texture and taste that may deteriorate over a period of time. To learn more about the different dates on food check out my blog post.
5.Enjoy a free lunch!
Food leftover from last nights’ dinner can make a great lunch the next day. Within your own family, don’t be shy about rescuing untouched food from people’s plates. A lot of food is wasted this way when it is perfectly good to eat.
6.Have a 'Eat Me Up' shelf in the fridge.
Many people make a list of food that they need to buy, but don’t list food they already have that needs eating up. Little reminders can make sure food doesn’t get forgotten and is a great way to reduce food waste. The team at Zero Waste Week recommend having a designated 'Eat Me Up shelf in the fridge'
7.Have a few recipes or ideas ready to use up things that most often get wasted in your home.
For example, a vegetable soup is great for using up veg that is past its best and you don’t need to follow a specific recipe. Bananas that have started to go black are great for making banana muffins or even banana milkshake.
8.Build your meals around what you do have rather than what you don’t.
If you only have one courgette left in the fridge, make something that will incorporate the courgette rather than dismissing it and shopping for a completely different meal.
9.Store Food Correctly
Taking care to store food correctly can prevent food waste. Often we throw food away because it has spoiled. The Love Food Hate Waste website has great tips on food storage. Fruit and vegetables are the most common items people don't know how to store correctly. Root vegetables, ie those grown with their roots in the ground, should be stored in a cool dark place, but not the fridge. Fruits such as bananas, avocados, tomatoes, peaches and pears produce an ethylene gas when ripening which means they should be stored separately as they can make other things go off quicker.
10.Value our food as a gift.
When we value something, we take care of it and are less inclined to waste it. Considering where our food has come from, the energy and resources that have gone into producing it and the fact that many people do not have enough to eat can help us appreciate our food as a precious gift.
If you have any tips you'd like to share, please leave them in the comments below.