We love food, and we share a lot of tasty recipes that we hope you love too! But one thing that we don't love is food waste. We're all guilty of it, and it is a habit that can be hard to break. You may not even realise you're wasting food, but in UK households we waste 6.5 million tonnes of it every year, 4.5 million of which is edible. We’re not just talking egg shells or chicken bones, this includes the last few bites from your plate that you couldn’t quite manage, or your bread crusts, or potato peelings – all stuff which could have been transformed into something delicious. To provide some perspective, those 4.5 million tonnes are enough to fill 38 million wheelie bins, or 90 Royal Albert Halls. That's an awful lot of waste. Food is lovingly grown and nurtured for months before it arrives in our shops and ends up on our plates. For all of us around the world, it’s a social activity, a comfort, an essential, and a luxury. Reducing food waste is one the best things you can do for the planet, as it helps slow down global warming. If global food waste were a country, it would be third largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the US. Also, the average family of four can save just over £60 per month by reducing their food waste! And it can be a really easy thing to do. Here's our top tips for reducing your food waste.
Image via Kent Fresh - our favourite local greengrocers!
Plan your shopping
It is easy to get overwhelmed when you enter the supermarket or login to make an online food shop order, that is why planning before you buy is crucial to reducing your food waste. It can also save you a lot of time and money too! We recommend planning your main meals for a week or two and seeing how you get on with it. This is also a fantastic way to try new recipes and get a bit more creative in the kitchen - just dig out your favourite recipe books and pick out which ones you want to try. To make sure you buy the correct amount of food, Love Food Hate Waste have a fantastic Portion Planner tool on their website that helps you work out the exact amount of each ingredient you will need to buy. Shopping at smaller shops such as your local greengrocers or refill shop is also a great idea as they often sell things loose so you can buy exactly what you need rather than pre-packaged supermarket goods which are more likely to get wasted. Plus, you often avoid single use plastics this way too - it's a win-win.
Make your food last longer
Storing your food correctly is key to making sure it lasts as long as possible. New research published by WRAP shows that having your fridge at the right temperature – between 0°C and 5°C – can help preserve food for longer. Research shows that up to 70% of our fridges are too warm, meaning food won’t last as long as it could. Milk goes off much quicker if the fridge is just a few degrees too warm. It is important to know where to store different types of food, as putting some things in the fridge can actually make them go off quicker! Love Food Hate Waste have a fantastic A-Z guide for storing food which can be very handy for those moments you're unsure. Understanding Use By and Best Before dates is also very important when trying to cut down on your food waste. Almost half of the 6.5 million tonnes of good food wasted from our homes each year happens because we don’t use it in time, and in one-third of those instances a date label is given as the reason why. A Use By date on a product is there for food safety reasons. You can eat it right up to the Use By date, but not after - even if it looks and smells fine. Best Before, on the other hand, is about quality and food is usually safe to eat after the date, it just may not be at it's best.
Get the most from your food shop
The best way to ultimately reduce your food waste is to use all of the food that you buy! If you cook too much food for a meal, portion some out and either pop it in the fridge or the freezer to eat another day. If you have a sad looking vegetable hanging around in the back of the fridge, find a recipe that you can use it in before it goes bad. You can find some great recipes for using up leftover ingredients here. There's also some great apps where you can input the ingredients you need to use up and it will give you recipe suggestions! Supercook is one of the most popular ones out there and it is very easy to use. Another way to make the most of your food is to eat the whole edible parts of the food - such as crusts, skins, stalks, stems, leaves etc. For example, you can roasts the seeds from many vegetables to have as a tasty snack, the leaves from a lot of your favourite veg is perfectly edible (and tasty too!) and even fruit peel can be candied and used in baked goods. Simply not peeling your fruit and veg like carrots and apples will also save a lot of food waste plus the skins often contain the most nutrients.
Dispose of food waste properly
Things like egg shells, tea bags and banana skins will probably never be on the menu, but it is still important to make sure that you dispose of them properly. Composting is a fantastic option for disposing of food waste - almost half of the food waste in the average rubbish bin could have been composted. Composting at home for just one year can save global warming gases equivalent to all the CO2 your kettle produces annually, or your washing machine produces in three months! You can find a great guide to composting over on Recycle Now's website. If your local council offers a food waste recycling service, we highly suggest taking advantage of this service. You can find out more about food waste recycling and if it is offered in your area here. Food waste such as coffee grounds, out of date oats, banana skins and even avocado stones can also be turned into beauty products!
We hope you found some helpful tips and tricks in there! Making lifestyle changes can feel overwhelming at first, but know that every little positive step you make really does make a difference. Do you have any nifty ways to reduce your food waste? Let us know in the comments!