Food waste is a big problem. Did you know that approximately 1/3 of the food produced all over the globe for human consumption is either lost, or wasted?
Here in the UK, it is estimated that roughly 9 million tonnes of food is wasted every year, and a big chunk of it is still edible. On average, UK household throw away around £500 worth of food per year, making us one of the worst countries for food waste in the world.
This high wastage of food is also harmful for the environment. Food waste alone generates about 8% - 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions and uses many resources such as land and energy.
The UK Government has stated they are committed to halving the UK’s per capita food waste by 2030. And according to reports, food waste went down during lockdowns, so we know it’s achievable. So, what can we do to help?
At Wholefood Earth we want to help you shop and eat as sustainably as possible, and that includes your waste too. We’ve compiled some handy tips of how to cut down your food waste as much as possible. Even better, these tips can also assist you in saving money and eating more healthily.
Make a list
You know the old saying ‘If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail’ well that theory works here. Every week, plan out your meals based on your schedule and week ahead. Heading to the shops with a list and a game plan will help you with overbuying as long as you stick to it. If you can, try to stick to the exact amounts you need rather than giving in to multi deal offers.
As an added bonus, it will also stop you having to wonder what to have for dinner each night!
Review Your Kitchen Before Shopping
Before you even leave the house, do a quick check on your fridge, freezer, and cupboard to see what you already have. If you’re anything like us, sometimes you have things lurking at the back of the kitchen cupboard you completely forgot about!
This is a great way to see what you have and need to use up, as well as making sure you don’t accidentally buy extra of something you already have at home.
If you end up with an odd assortment of food items at the end of the week, why not experiment and see what you can make of it. It pushes you to be creative and maybe you’ll find a new dish you’ve never thought of before!
Alternatively, you could make it into a sort of mezze platter with the leftover bits and bobs.
Don’t Go Food Shopping Hungry
Don’t. Do. It. Going shopping when you’re starving is bound to lead to impulse spending and throwing anything into your trolley that looks good. If you’re wanting to reduce food waste as well as your shopping bill, plan to go when you’re not so hungry you could eat your own arm.
Buy Misshapen Fruits and Vegetables
I know a lot of us are guilty of this, but just because something looks a little funky doesn’t mean it’s not good to eat. Buying these types of foods saves them from being thrown out at the end of the day and sends a message to shop owners that they will sell if they stock them.
In fact, some stores such as Morrisons and Aldi are even selling off their ‘wonky veg’ at a better price to help combat food wastage. Genius!
Be smart about how you store your foods in your fridge, freezer, and pantry to make the most of them. If you know you won’t use something in the coming days, and it can be frozen, pop it in the freezer now. Speaking of, make sure your freezer and fridge are at the optimum temperature, so food doesn’t spoil early.
Make sure to store dry foods in a cool dry place, away from direct sunlight, heat, and damp. Also, have a good collection of reusable, air-tight containers in your kitchen so any leftovers you have stay nice and fresh for as long as possible.
Check Expiry Dates
When it comes to expiration dates on food and drinks, most of them are just a guideline. There is a difference between a use by date and a best before date. A use by date is relating to food safety and is not safe to eat past the use by date. Whereas the best before date is only reflective of the food quality, so is still safe to eat but may not be at its best.
So, if you have any best before items that have gone past their date we suggest giving it a look over and sniff test before throwing it out as they may still be perfectly fine to consume.
Cook in Batches
Another great way to reduce food waste is by buying in bulk, cooking at home and cooking in batches. Making large pots of soup, stews, and chillies can take a lot of the guesswork out during a busy week. It will also stop you reaching for that takeaway menu if you’ve already got something ready-made to eat at home.
Make the Most of Leftovers
Get in the habit of thinking how you can repurpose your leftovers into other meals. Alternatively take a packed lunch to work/school by using up your leftovers for lunch the next day. This will save you money as well as combating food waste. Win- win!
Also, when going to a restaurant, if you can’t finish your meal, ask to take the rest home in a doggie bag. Otherwise, they will just be chucked away so they may as well go to good use.
Compost or Preserve It
Give unused food waste and scraps a new life in your garden by composting. Keep a small, air-tight container or bin in your kitchen to make collecting compost material easy and ready to use.
If you don’t have a garden, or you’re still looking of ways to make you food last longer, there are many options of how you can preserve your food. You can pickle, can, smoke, salt, vacuum-pack, or dry out lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, and meats to enjoy at a later date.
Give it Away
Did you know we actually produce enough food across the world to wipe out global hunger?
With more families across the UK finding it hard to make ends meet, why not consider donating any leftover food or food you know you won’t eat, to your local food bank? Not only will you be combating food waste, but also aiding people in crisis, because no one should go hungry.