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Food waste is a huge problem. Each day in the UK, 24 million slices of bread are placed in our bins and the average family bins a whopping £700 worth of food annually. Although 50% of the total amount of food thrown away each year comes from households, supermarkets and restaurants are also responsible.
It’s frustrating that so much excess food in our supermarkets goes to waste, particularly when thousands of people across the country struggle to feed themselves due to money troubles.
Not only is food waste a kick-in-the-teeth for those battling poverty and hunger, it’s bad for the environment too. In fact, food and drink accounts for 20% of UK’s CO2eq emissions.
The good news is that if we try really hard to reduce the amount of food we throw away, we can make a difference. Here are 50 easy ways to minimise food waste. Starting from….NOW!
At the start of each week, plan what you’re going to have for tea each day (tea means dinner, dear southerners)
If you’re planning to eat out at any point in the week ahead, take your meal plan into account
Take a shopping list with you every time you do a big shop. This should discourage you from buying things that aren’t on your list
Only buy something if you know how you’re going to use it
Don’t buy extra food just because it’s on offer – if a recipe calls for two carrots, there’s no need to buy a whole bag if the rest will just end up in the bin
Buy loose produce, rather than pre-packed stuff. This is a great way of minimising the amount you’re likely to throw away
Look out for imperfect or ‘ugly’ food in the supermarket – and buy it! This sort of stuff often gets thrown away by supermarkets because it gets left until last. It probably tastes no different though
Take a look at Approved Food. This website is AMAZING and is a great resource for buying food at an affordable price while helping to reduce the amount of grub that ends up in landfill
If you haven’t already, take a look at Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s #WasteNot campaign. Sign his pledge and put pressure on supermarkets to reduce the amount of food they bin
Salad is one of the most likely culprits to get thrown away so avoid buying too much salad.
Every time you go shopping, have a look at the reduced to clear section. If it’s near the end of the day and there are still plenty of perishable leftovers, don’t be afraid to ask staff if they can reduce things further
Don’t buy any perishables until you’ve used up what you’ve already got
When unpacking your shopping, store the oldest stuff at the front of the fridge so it’s easy to access and use up sooner. This will minimise the risk of mouldy Philadelphia festering in the corner at the back
Make sure your fridge and freezer are working effectively and at the right temperature
Ensure you’re storing food properly in the fridge. That drawer at the bottom? It’s for produce.
Store onions, potatoes and garlic inside a cool cupboard away from sunlight and heat
Surprisingly, vegetables in plastic bags can sometimes go off faster than those exposed to a bit of air. Poke holes in the bags so the veg is able to breathe.
If you’re unlikely to eat a whole loaf of bread within a couple of days, freeze half the loaf as soon as you get home to make sure it stays fresh.
To avoid forgetting about fresh meat you have in the fridge, consider freezing it if you won’t be using within the first couple of days
Trying to separate pieces of meat that have been frozen together can sometimes be a challenge. So separate each piece into different tubs or freezers bags as soon as you get home.
Some fruits give off natural gases as they ripen, making other produce spoil faster. To prevent this from happening, store bananas, apples, and tomatoes separately.
Don’t wash berries until right before you’re ready to eat them. Washing them long before they’re consumed can increase the likelihood of mould
Plan meals based on food that is close to its use by date.
Learn the difference between ‘best before’ and ‘use by’. Here’s a guide.
If you’ve got mushrooms that probably only have a day or two before they go mushy, chop them up and throw them in a chilli or casserole.
When cooking something from scratch, cook more than you need so you can freeze some for later.
Eat manageable portions. If you struggle to eat your meal, you’re more likely to throw leftovers from your plate in the bin rather than save them for later.
If you’re still hungry after your first serving, you can always have seconds.
Love Food Hate Waste’s portion planning tool may be a great help.
Save some food for lunch the next day.
Store any additional leftovers in Tupperware tubs and keep them in the freezer.
Be creative with leftovers and experiment with new ways of using stuff up.
For example, you could turn soft avocados into guacamole!
Use scraps of meat or vegetables in soups or homemade stocks.
Use old fruit in smoothies and ice lollies.
Take your own lunch to work each day instead of buying it from the shop.
If you’re forever throwing away boxes of cereal, crackers and biscuits, start storing them in airtight containers to keep them fresher for longer.
Take a look at the Zero Waste Week blog. It’s filled with thrifty tips and recipes.
If you’ve got tins of beans in your cupboard that you’re likely to never use, donate them to a food kitchen or homeless charity so they can be used up by people who need it.
Take a look at the Fareshare website and sign up to the newsletter for lots of interesting info and tips
Some farmers will accept scraps of food for feeding pigs or adding to compost heaps.
Start your own compost bin.
Remember that food waste can also be a problem in restaurants too. What you leave behind at the end of your meal is likely to be thrown away, rather than recycled.
To avoid restaurant food waste, don’t hesitate to split large portions with a friend and share certain dishes.
If you’d like to take leftovers home with you, just ask! Many restaurants will be only to happy to place it in a tub or box for you.
To reduce the 600,000 tonnes of food waste from restaurants each year, Too Good To Waste have even designed a stylish ‘doggy box’ so that diners can take their leftovers home with them.
Look out for restaurants and cafes that use food that would otherwise go to waste and eat there! The Bristol Skipchen Campaigning Cafe is just one of several cafes providing great food to communities.
Photo credits: FreeFoodPhotos