I first published this post five years ago but when I sat down tonight to write a whole new post about how to reduce food waste, it felt a bit like deja vu and then I remembered this post and thought it would be easier just to give that a polish up and and share it again rather than write a whole new post!
We all know that we shouldn’t waste food, don’t we?
But are we all actively taking steps to make sure that we don’t actually do it?
In the UK alone we throw away about 15 million tonnes of food waste a year and just in case you’ve never really thought about it before, you’re not just wasting the food itself. You’re also wasting the resources that have gone into making, packaging and transporting the food itself.
But that’s all big picture stuff and it’s sometimes difficult to relate this to your own life and the food that your family waste. So for now, just ignore all that and think about how much of your hard earned money you throw away each year and how easy it would be to reduce that drastically by changing a few little things.
- The easiest way by far to reduce waste and save money at the same time is to meal plan. I know I’ve written about this so many times but it’s because I’m a big believer! If you plan your meals and only buy what you need then it stands to reason that you’re going to waste less food.
- When you’re shopping, try and buy the food with the longest use by dates. When we went shopping last week, the use by dates for one particular thing we were buying varied from one which was three days away to one which was a week away. By making sure that you pick the longer dates, you’re giving yourself longer to use it up.
- Check your portion sizes! I found it difficult sometimes to guesstimate how much pasta or rice I should use per person so I started using the portion size checker tool at Love Food Hate Waste and it only took me a few times to get a much better idea. I used to do so much pasta that I could make an extra meal out of what I didn’t use but pasta’s never as good when it’s heated back up if you ask me so it just used to go to waste.
- Store food well to make sure it doesn’t go off before the use by date. Cheese is one thing that always used to go off before the use by date, mainly because we never used to store it in an airtight container. We used to wrap it in cling film so a part of it always used to go hard and it ended up getting thrown out. Now we pop it in an airtight container as soon as we open it and if we’re not going to use it by the use by date, we grate it and pop it in the freezer.
- Use your freezer as much as possible. If you don’t manage to use something up before the use by date, check the package and see if it can be frozen – if it can, stick it in the freezer rather than waste it. Also, don’t forget you can freeze your meal leftovers and I have always have a stack of little tubs in my cupboard ready to use for just this – if only I could manage to stop losing the lids somewhere between the washing up bowl and putting them away again! If it helps, I wrote a post a while ago about how to make your freezer work harder for you and also shared how I organise my freezers.
- Apparently, here in the UK, we waste around 37 million slices of bread every single day but we have a solution to that! If ever we have any leftover bread, we freeze it before it goes out of date. You can toast bread straight from the freezer or in the past we’ve made packed lunches on a night using frozen bread and by the next lunchtime, it’s been defrosted and ready to eat. We also make breadcrumbs with leftover bread and I have a little bag of them in the freezer for homemade fishcakes and chicken nuggets.
- Have a well-stocked store cupboard, if you have things in your cupboard like stock cubes, pasta, rice and tinned tomatoes means that you can easily put a meal together with leftovers and things you might have otherwise thrown out.
- I used to do a quick fridge tidy when I’d been shopping and was just about to unpack the new shopping. Anything out of date or about to go out of date go in the bin. Now I look in the fridge the night before shopping and use up what’s in there – slow cooker leftovers frittata is gorgeous, fridge leftover soup usually turns out nice, lots of things are nice in pasta with a quick tomato sauce and if I have something meaty, I either pop it in the freezer if it’s definitely not going to be used or I can make quick slow cooker casserole if there are some other things to go with it.
- Use Google for some creative ideas to use up what you have in – I type a few ingredients that I have in to use up in the search box and see what comes up. I’ve got some brilliant ideas that way and if all else fails, I can stick everything in the slow cooker with some curry powder and coconut milk and make a nice creamy curry.
- Know your ‘Use by’ dates from your ‘Sell by’ dates – I wrote a post here about this and was surprised by how many people would eat food past its use by date. I always thought it was just me 😉
What do you think – is there anything else we could be doing?
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Image credit: Shutterstock, conejota