6 Simple Ways to Reduce Food Waste
Picture the scene, you’ve just spent a lot of your hard-earned cash on food shopping, you go home and you lovingly cook delicious meals for yourself and/or family. You dish out your meals on to pretty plates and then you walk outside and feed it to your green bin. It’s not a nice picture, is it? But we waste so much food like this every week, that not only is this bad for the environment, but it’s burning a hole in your pocket too.
Recently I read this news article about how France have brought in a new legislation barring supermarkets from throwing away unsold food. Instead, it must be given to charities or to farmers for animal feed, and it appears that the UK could be following suit. Tesco have recently launched a pilot scheme at 10 of their stores that involves staff using an app in conjunction with Fareshare and Food Cloud. With this app they can alert registered charities of what unsold food they have and that it’s available to be picked up free of charge. (For more information watch their youtube vid). Sainbury’s and Morrisons already have similar schemes in place. This article got me thinking about the food that we waste at home. According to The Guardian, one third of all food produced ends up as waste. That’s an incredibly depressing figure. There are many things that each of us can do to reduce this statistic and save money at the same time.
1. Check your cupboards/fridge
Before you do anything, check what you already have in your fridge and cupboards. Is anything near its use by date that you can transfer to your freezer, or use up that week?
2. Make a shopping list
When you go shopping it’s best to have a prepared shopping list with you. Not only will it stop you from impulse buying products you don’t really need, but it will save you time as well! I know from experience that I’ve bought items on impulse and ended up throwing them in the bin. You might also be tempted by food stocked in the reduced section. My eyes light up when I see those yellow stickers and it’s very easy to get carried away and put more in your trolley than you need. There’s a couple of things you need to ask yourself. A) do I really need all of these items? And B) do I have space in my freezer to store them?
3. Plan your meals
Meal planning can seem quite daunting if you haven’t done it before, but once you get into the habit of planning, you’ll find it’s not as time consuming as you thought and you might actually find it fun! Neil and I like to sit down at the end of the week and pick out recipes from cookbooks or food blogs as meals we’d like the following week. I like to have theme days, so we base it around them. For example: Meatless Mondays; Pasta Tuesdays; Leftovers Wednesdays; Freezer Thursdays; Fish Fridays; Mystery Saturdays; and traditional Sunday dinners. Breakfast for us is normally the easiest to plan, because we usually just eat toast or porridge pretty much everyday, with the weekend being treat days. There are a lot of printable meal planners out there to mark down your meals. It might sound crazy, but you may want to check the weather forecast too. You don’t want to have a hearty beef stew planned on a hot day!
4. Love your leftovers
Tonights leftovers can be a delicious lunch for tomorrow – who says you can’t have a free lunch, eh? Make sure that any leftovers are stored in airtight containers and refrigerated within 2 hours to prevent bacteria growth. Just make sure to label everything with the date, so you won’t forget!
5. Freeze food
You can pretty much freeze anything up to its use by date! For example, did you know you can freeze crisps?! We love crisps in my house, so when they are on offer, we buy them and store them in the freezer! I also used to throw out buttercream frosting until I learnt you can freeze it too! Normally we don’t keep anything frozen longer than 3 months, as the quality starts to deteriorate after this period. Label everything with what it is and date it!
6. Understand labels
Best before, use by and sell by. They all mean something different, so it’s important to learn what each one stands for.
Best before means that the item you’ve bought will taste its best before the date on the label. After this both the flavour and the quality will start to diminish.
Use by means that food should not be consumed after the date on the label for safety reasons (even if it smells ok). So it’s important to make sure you use up food before the end of the use by date to avoid binning it.
Sell by date/Display by date – don’t be concerned with these dates as they are for shop staff’s reference. There should always be a best before or a use by date marked on these items too.
I think what France have implemented is absolutely fantastic and it’s great to see the big supermarkets here are starting to make changes too. Hopefully in the near future other countries will make similar legislation as well.
I really hope these tips start to make you think about reducing your food waste and help save the pennies. To help inspire you further, check out these recipes using leftovers by some fantastic food bloggers:
Simple Pork Fried Rice – FabFood4All.
Leftover Roast Beef & Potato Hash – Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diaries.
Leftover Vegetables and Black Bananas – Food Quine.
5 Things To Do With Leftover Roast Lamb of Leg – Jen’s Food.
Leftover Banana Nutella Pinwheels – FabFood4All.
Jammy Flapjacks – Tin and Thyme.
Leftover Easter Chocolate – Food Quine.
Leftover Christmas Cheese – Food Quine.