In 2015, UK households threw away a whopping 7.3 million tonnes of food. This has to change: this post will tell you how.
How To Reduce Food Waste
Love Food Hate Waste said I was a Pressured Provider and I don’t disagree. Health conscious but strapped for time, reducing food waste hasn’t always been a priority for me. When it’s hard to make it through the week, why would it be? I simply had too many plates to spin. A few months down the line, and I’ve drastically reduced the amount of food that goes in the collection bin every week and saved around £10 a week.
This blog post explains the what, the how and the why of reducing food waste, right down to the recipes you need to get started.
Why You Should Be Reducing Food Waste
In 2015, UK households threw away a whopping 7.3 million tonnes of food. That food took time, water, land and fuel to get from the farm to your house. Reducing food waste isn’t just about the planet, however. Reducing food waste means more money in your pocket.
My 13 Top Tips For Reducing Food Waste.
Reducing food waste as you shop.
- Meal plan. This has to be my Absolute Must top tip for reducing food waste. I am never knowingly without a meal planned! Every Sunday I sit down and write a meal plan, taking into account everything I have going on that week. Not only does it help reduce food waste, but it makes my weekdays that little bit more efficient because I always know what I’m doing next.
- Use a shopping list. Once you’ve done your meal plan, you need to write your shopping list. Don’t forget to check your cupboards for anything not in the meal plan: tea, coffee, cleaning products etc. Waking up to find you’ve used the last tea bag is NOT fun.
- Don’t shop when hungry. A few days ago, Ian came home from work and within a few minutes asked me if I was hungry when I went to Aldi. I went in for some veggies and tomato puree for that night’s chilli, and came out with: a tin of butter beans, two bags of veggie sausages, chocolate, more chocolate, biscuits… Do yourself and the planet a favour. Eat before you shop.
- Buy ugly fruits and vegetables. Most supermarkets now have a value range with fruit and veg that doesn’t look as perfect as the others. They all taste the same, and you may even get a giggle out of it – I once had a carrot that looked like a sex toy! Frustratingly, value ranges often come in plastic packaging.
- Buy only as much as you need. The easiest way to reduce your food waste? Don’t buy as much! Buy loose produce instead of a big bag.
Reducing food waste at home.
- Use veggie scraps. Veggie scraps can be composted or used to make vegetable stock. If composting, dice the scraps and add them to the heap. If making stock, put them in the freezer in a large bag. When the bag is full, boil the scraps for 1 1/2 hours and strain. The remaining veggie pulp can go into the compost.
- Check the fridge freezer. The fridge freezer won’t keep your food at it’s best if it isn’t working properly – check the seals and drainage pipes, defrost regularly and deep clean once a month.
- Rotate your food. Keep the food that will go out of date first near the front of the fridge or cupboard. Donate anything you don’t think you’ll end up using to your local food bank.
- Use leftovers. Plan to use leftovers the next day or at another point of the week. A butternut squash might go between two meals, so plan those meals close together. A box of silken tofu can make tofu scramble for three and a vegan pesto the following day!
- Cook once, eat twice. Bulk cooking is one of the best ways to reduce food waste – if you eat it all. Divide the leftovers into realistic portion sizes and allow to cool before putting it in the fridge or freezer. If you don’t plan on eating it again within the next two days, it’s always better to freeze.
- Reduce portion sizes. It’s better to go back for seconds than to have a plate full of food to throw away. My kids are prime examples: lots of food gets left on the plate because I give them portions that are too large. If you do clean your plate, wait 20 minutes or so before going to get more food. That’s enough time for a cuppa and to read a couple of my blog posts, in case you were wondering! #shamelessplug 🙂
- Be honest with yourself. Did you buy a large bag of some trendy health food you’ll never finish? Give it away. If you have half a cucumber lurking in the back of the fridge every week, then it’s time to stop buying cucumber. For me, it’s mushrooms. I keep telling myself I’m going to force myself to like them by buying them in every week. The result? Lots of gone off mushrooms. Not good.
- Understand “Best Before” and “Use By”. You can use items that have a Best Before date after that date has passed: the food won’t be dangerous, but it won’t be at it’s best either. It is unsafe to eat food after the Use By date. Don’t do it.
Bonus Tip: Keep a reusable container in your bag to bring home leftovers from your meal out.
Inspiration: Recipes To Help You Reduce Food Waste.
My Easy Vegan Vegetable Curry recipe works a treat for bulk cooking and using leftover veggies, as does my Root Veg and Rosemary soup. Other go-to bulk/leftovers eats in my house include cottage pie and chilli (posts in the works for both recipes, nudge me if you want it!).
I love this lentil bake from Amuse Your Bouche. The recipe does call for cheese, but you can replace it with the vegan cheese of your choice, or leave it out. It’s very filling and one usually does tea and a lunch for us. I still made two last time, putting one in the freezer for the following week!
What are your favourite leftover/food saving recipes? Let me know in the comments.