we are all guilty of throwing away bad or leftover food on a regular basis. Two thirds of household waste in the UK is due to food spoilage. So, we have put together some top tips to help combat the rotting produce in landfill sites, thus reducing our contribution to climate change.
1. don't buy too much (planning)
I was always of the rule of thumb that it was best practice to do a big weekly shop, but research has shown that this only leads to more food waste.
To avoid buying more food than you need, do an inventory of the contents of your fridge to ascertain what you already have in stock and what you need to make the dishes you are planning over the next couple of days.
Make a list, no impulse buys and no shopping when you’re peckish – EVER!
Skint Dad does a good review of Best Meal Planner Apps: Helping You to Cook Cheaper and Eat Smarter
2. don't cook too much (portioning)
When we cook at home, we tend to make much more food than people can actually eat because we fear not having enough food for the family or guests. To avoid cooking too much food, always cook 30% less than you usually do...or just use smaller plates :)
British Heart Foundation has an interactive portion guide and handy tips to help keep your diet balanced and well-portioned.
3. know what's in your fridge (rotating)
De-clutter your fridge before you come home with bags of new produce. Treat your fridge like supermarket shelves – push the newest food to the back and move the old to the front to ensure stock rotation.
4. know how to keep fresh (short storing)
Stop fruit and veg from spoiling by learning which ones don’t like to be near each other in the fridge.
Potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, onions and cucumbers should NEVER be refrigerated. Keep them at room temperature.
Some foods produce a gas called ethylene while ripening: bananas, apples, tomatoes, melons, peaches, pears and spring onions. These kids should be kept away from ethylene sensitive ones like potatoes, leafy greens, berries and peppers.
Vegetables like to have their tight bands removed if present. This helps them to breathe and stay fresh longer.
myplasticfreelife.com has a comprehensive and downloadable list of tips and tricks to extend the life of your fruits and vegetables without plastic
5. make the most of your freezer (long storing)
Learning to freeze efficiently is really important. I used to have random bags of unrecognisable items taking up space in my freezer. When freezing leftovers, name and date the container so as to avoid this.
If you are going away for the weekend or on holiday (I wish) pop your unused milk and butter in the freezer to defrost on your return.
If you have veggies that are about to go by and you don’t have time to create with them, blanche them for 30 seconds in boiling water prior to freezing. Alternatively, buy frozen veg, it's just as good for you!
Don’t be scared to cook from frozen. Soups, casseroles, gratins and small fish lend themselves very well to this.
Take products out of their packaging before you put them in the freezer. Boxes take up too much space and can cause freezer burn. Decant into air tight containers or freezer bags.
ASDA Good Living has fab freezer hacks for cutting food waste. Put a stop to binning your fresh food and embrace the big freeze.
5. make food go further (compleating)
When preparing vegetables, think about what you are discarding. Peelings, stalks and leaves can be popped into a freezer bag, in the freezer and added to over the coming weeks to create enough to make a delicious and nutritious homemade veggie stock. They also can be added to a chicken carcass or meat bones to make a meaty stock.
Love Food Hate Waste have a 'compleat' food guide and recipe book.
(image: Too Good To Go)
6. know your dates, use your senses (judging)
Understand expiration dates: “sell by” tells the shop how long to display the product for sale. “best before” is recommended for best flavour or quality. “use by” is the last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality.
The wonderful app To Good to Go has introduced a “Look, Smell, Taste, Don’t waste” campaign that aims to re-classify how products should be labelled, and shake up the way we judge whether food is safe to eat or not to stop us chucking food away unnecessarily. They share some really interesting thoughts on their blogs and also point you in the direction of shops/cafes/restaurants in your area that are giving away their unused food in what they call “magic bags”. Really worth a look!
Food banks always take canned goods that have gone past their dates, so there is never any need to throw those away.
8. meals from what you've already got (creating)
Lastly, get creative! Don’t stick to a recipe, create your own with what you have in your fridge. You’ll surprise yourself if you do - Ready, Steady, Cook!
Foodwise has a handy recipe finder for cooking something up from cupboard stores and leftover food.
9. bring your food back to life (reviving)
The main reason for food wastage is that many people don't realise that plenty of food can be eaten well after its best before date. In true student style, here's 14 foods you can revive and eat :)