There’s no denying it, food waste is bad.
According to UK charity Love Food Hate Waste:
We throw away 7 million tonnes of food and drink from our homes every year, the majority of which, could have been eaten. It’s costing us £12.5bn a year and is bad for the environment too.
If like me, reducing food waste at home is something you’re keen to do, then I think you’ll like today’s post.
I’ve done a bit of digging around, and put together a list of 50 easy ways you can reduce food waste (and save a bit of money at the same time).
1. Make a List and Stick to it: Supermarkets are designed to encourage impulse buying. However, if you go in to your local store armed with a strict shopping list and the resolve to stick to it, you’re less likely to buy too much food.
2. Monitor What You Buy: If you notice you’re throwing the same food or types of food out again and again, either buy less, look for an alternative, or stop buying it.
3. Buy the Funny Looking Food: Fruit and veg comes in all shapes and sizes, however we’ve been conditioned by supermarkets to look for certain shapes and conformity. Buying the odd shaped fruit or veg that nobody else will, means the supermarket won’t be throwing it out.
4. Do Your Food Shop More Frequently: Okay, so this is only really practical if you live next to a supermarket or grocery store. But buying less food more frequently will limit the chance of what you buy going to waste as things are fresher and it’s easier to estimate how much food you need.
5. Staples Monthly, Fresh Food Weekly: Similar to the point above, you could try stocking up on the kitchen and household essentials on a monthly basis; buying food that keeps for longer. And then buying your fruit and veg on a weekly basis.
6. Develop a Routine: Developing a route through the isles of temptation within the supermarket will help you stick to your shopping list. You’ll be able to memorise where your “go-to” items are and zone out any temptations vying for your attention. It’ll also help minimise the amount of time you spend shopping too.
7. Hungry Shopping: It’s never a good idea to go shopping when you’re hungry! No amount of planning, list making or monk-like willpower will withstand the smells and strategically placed treats of supermarkets when you’re hungry. Just don’t do it to yourself 🙂
8. Frozen Food: Buying frozen fruit and veg is a brilliant way of having healthy food available all month, without the risk of it spoiling. Freezing it also locks in the nutrients, so you could argue that it’s slightly better for you.
9. Grow Your Own: Growing your own fruit and vegetables is a fantastic way to reduce your reliance on supermarket food. It also means you can pick things as and when they’re ripe, reducing the chance that they’ll spoil. And if you grow too much you can give it to friends and family.
10. Try Food Delivery Services: Fed-up of over-shopping and buying too much of the things you don’t really need? Food delivery services like Gousto are a great way to combat this. Each week you get sent the exact ingredients and quantities to make a certain amount of meals, helping you save time and reduce waste.
11. Make a Weekly Plan: Perhaps an obvious one for the meal planning section. Knowing what you’re going to cook each day of the week will help you budget and plan what to buy when you go shopping. Reducing the liklihood of you coming home with a load of food you don’t need. The trick is to mix things up each week, so that you don’t get bored of lasagne every Tuesday!
12. Create a Kitchen Itinerary. When you get home and are unloading the shopping, fill in an itinerary with what you have bought and when it goes off. Keep in somewhere visible in the kitchen so you can keep track of any fresh food about to go off. This is particularly useful for meats and helps minimise the chances of finding old gone off food at the back of your fridge that you’d forgotten about.
13. Think of Tomorrow’s Lunch: Certain meals lend themselves really well to be taken to work the next day, especially if you have access to a microwave. Making a few evening meals each week that you can take to work the next day, things like Chili Con Carne, any pasta dish, or curry, will help you save on your lunchtime spending. It also gives you something a bit healthier and more interesting than a cheese sandwhich and packet of crisps.
14. Try Something New: As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life. Sticking to meal plans and budgets can quickly become stale. Unless you mix it up that is. If you have that half of swede left over, or that last bit of cheese, instead of automatically throwing it out, search for recipes you could use it up in and experiment. It’s a good idea to keep one day a week unplanned to do this. I call them fridge-raid recipes.
15. Challenge Yourself: Try a couple of weeks where you reduce the amount of food you buy. Try and feed you and your family the same amount and quality of tasty and nutritious food. It’ll force you out of your comfort zone and make you look for new, more economical recipes.
16. The Freezer is Your Friend: If there’s a chance you’re not going to use your fruit and veg before it starts to go off, it’s a great idea to chop it up and freeze it; old takeaway containers are perfect for this. Then next time you fancy a nice fruity smoothie, or a quick stir fry, the bulk of your ingredients are chopped and ready to go.
17. Use a Smaller Plate: This will help with portion control, and serving a smaller portion of food is going to mean you’re much more likely to finish it all. It will also help lower the chance of you overeating.
18. Give Measuring Cups a go: It’s really tricky to gauge how much food (especially things like rice) to cook in the first place and how much to serve. Measuring cups are an easy fuss free way to help you serve the right amount of food.
19. Use the Portion Planner: Love Food Hate Waste have an awesome portion planner tool. It’s definitely worth a go.
20. Use it all: where possible, use all of the ingredient. For example, wherever possible cook potatoes with the skin on. Whats more, the skin is usually a part of fruit and vegetables that has lots of nutrients – win, win.
21. Freshen up Your Loaf: Bought a loaf of bread that’s gone a bit too dry but isn’t moldy? To freshen it up and make soft again, hold it briefly under cold running water. Give it a shake and put it in a hot oven for around 10 minutes.
22. Bake Bruised Fruit: Got a couple of brown and bruised bananas? Instead of throwing them out you can bake them for a delicious dessert.
23. Get Creative With Peelings: There’s no need to throw away fruit and veg peel. Fried potato skins are actually one of Michel Roux Jnr’s favourite ways to use up food! And if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for us! You can also use old fruit peel to flavour teas, make cleaning products with and even make potpourri!
24. Put Paper Towels in the Salad Drawer: Excess moisture will make your vegetables wilt faster. Adding a few sheets of paper towel will absorb the condensation vegetables generate as they chill, helping them stay dry and fresh. Just be sure to change the paper towels periodically.
25. Don’t Cram Vegetables in the Salad Drawer: This is especially important for the more delicate items such as spinach. Packing them too tightly will crush them and make them wilt.
26. Know Your Optimum Storage: Potatoes, especially sweet potatoes hate the fridge. It makes them go off quicker so be sure to store them in a cool dark cupboard. And preferably away from onions as they release gases that make each other spoil more quickly. In fact all fruits give off natural gases as they ripen, making other nearby produce spoil faster. Store bananas, apples, and tomatoes by themselves, and store fruits and vegetables in different bins. Find out more here.
27. Just Right: Make sure your fridge and freezer are the right temperature. If they’re not cold enough food will spoil quicker. You ideally want your fridge to be below 5 degrees celcius.
28. Keep a Professional Fridge: Copying how professionals use their fridges is a great way to reduce food waste. This system is designed to minimise the likelihood of food contamination, meaning less waste. The idea is to arrange you fridge based on the temperature the foods need to be cooked to. The upper shelves are for leftovers, and ready-to-eat-food, then as you move down the fridge each shelf should be for items that need higher cooking temperatures, with raw meat being at the bottom on its own shelf. Salads in the salad drawer. And, as the door is the warmest part of the fridge, only use this for condiments.
29. A Makeshift Meat Drawer: This is a good one if you don’t have enough space for a whole shelf dedicated for raw meat storage in your fridge. Find a smaller clear plastic container and store the meat in that – This module container is one example. This will allow you store meat on shelves with other food without the risk of it touching.
30. New to the Back, Old to the Front: Having a good system of putting new purchases at the back of the fridge and bringing the older items to the front will help lower the chance of things being forgotten at the back of the fridge.
31. Buy Time With Your Freezer: Freeze food such as bread, sliced fruit, or meat that you know you won’t be able to eat in time. One suggestion is to split packets in half, so one half is frozen and the other is kept in your cupboard or fridge.
32. Use Your Freezer in the Best Way Possible: For a whole host of awesome freezer tips, perhaps the best thing you can do is purchase this book: Freeze: 120 Delicious Recipes and Fantastic New Ways to Use Your Freezer and Make Life Just That Bit Easier
33. Cook and Freeze: Prepare and cook perishable items then freeze them for use throughout the month. Okay, so they won’t be as tender and juicy as when they were cooked fresh, buy they’ll definitely keep longer. This works really well for things like chicken breasts and mince meat.
34. Prep Now, Eat Later: Prepare whole meals in advance, when you have more time, then freezing them for use throughout the week, when you’re busier. This is a brilliant way to make sure you’ve always got something tasty and healthy to eat. Freezing the meals also increases the storage time, resulting in less chance of the food perishing.
35. Get creative with herbs: We all know fresh herbs taste best, but they can also be a cause of waste if you don’t use them all up. So with any extra herbs you have, or even if you grow your own, why not dry them, or freeze them in butter? Failing that just try keeping them in a little water in the fridge, like you would to keep flowers hydrated. I also like freezing any leftover ginger as I find this a big culprit for waste, you can then grate it frozen straight into your cooking too.
36. Label Frozen Food: We’ve all done it! What you thought was chili-con-carne when you took it from the freezer actually turned out to be bolognaise sauce! Labelling food makes your freezer a lot easier to manage and reduces the chance that you’ll defrost the wrong thing. Also, adding dates ensures things don’t stay there for decades!
37. Remove Meat and Fish From Their Plastic Trays Before Freezing: It’s better to remove them and put them in an air-tight freezer bag as it takes up less space and limits the amount of air around the meat, meaning less ice crystals will form.
38. Know Your Dates: There are multiple dates now printed on food packaging. Knowing what they mean is a good way to reduce food waste at home. Best before – These dates refer to quality rather than food safety. Use-by – These dates refer to safety. Food can be eaten up to the end of this date but it’s not recommended afterwards, even if it looks and smells fine. Sell by – This is used by supermarkets to indicate when stock should be kept on the shelves until, it doesn’t have a bearing on using it at home.
39. Try Canning and Pickling: This is a great way to use up left over vegetables. It also really good fun experimenting with different recipes.
40. Cut The Tops Off Root Veg: It keeps the nutrients in and stops them drying out and spoiling so quickly.
41. Remove Packaging, Label And Store Correctly: Plastic especially can make your food sweat, and go mouldy quicker so be sure to remove all plastic packaging from fresh foods. Old jam jars are really handy to decant your food into if you don’t have enough tuppaware, but be sure to label what you have! Once you’ve done that be sure to store properly be it in a cool cupboard or the fridge.
42. Love Your Leftovers: The Christmas turkey is a great example of this idea. Meal one is a delicious dinner, meal two is cold turkey chips and salad, meal three is turkey curry. Christmas isn’t the only time of year you should think like this though. It doesn’t just work on big joints of meat too, even if you chop too much veg, rather than throw it out, think how you can pop it in the fridge or freezer and use it at a later date – as a pizza topping, or in a pasta sauce for example.
43. Cook In Batches: Okay, so this doesn’t work for everything you eat, but for things like pasta or chili con carne, it’s easy to make batches for lunch the next day, or even for freezing ahead for a rainy day.
44. Croutons and Breadcrumbs: Stale bread is brilliant for chopping up and using as croutons (fry/bake with garlic for an extra treat), or grinding up into breadcrumbs.
45. Take Stock: Collect and store cooked roast and chop bones in the freezer, until you have enough to make a bone stock out of.
46. Donate to Food Banks and Farms: Most of us undoubtedly have a whole host of extra tins of food (or any other food really) we’re never going to eat. Rather than throwing them away, donating them to your local food bank is a brilliant way to make sure they don’t go to waste.
47. Use Food Waste Bins: Perhaps and obvious one, but if you do end up with food waste, be sure to use the food waste bin rather than the regular bin.
48. Compost: By the time you’ve put all the awesome food waste reducing tips into action, you shouldn’t have food waste 🙂 But if you do, composting them and reusing them in your garden is the perfect way to recycle them. Especially if you use the compost to help grow some new veggies!
49. Start a Worm Farm: You can also recycle food waste by turning it into rich fertiliser through a worm farm. Worm liquid and castings are excellent for pot plants or can be given to neighbours with gardens in exchange for fresh vegetables.
While worms aren’t fussy eaters, you shouldn’t feed them: dairy produce like butter or cheese, meat or fish, fat or bones, onions or garlic.
50. Keep Chickens: Okay, so you’ll need a good bit of space for this one,but if you do have the space, chickens are a fun way to reduce food waste; you can feed them leftovers and scraps, and they’ll also produce a healthy supply of eggs.
Got an idea on how to reduce food waste that’s not on the list? Please leave a comment and let me know, I’d love to hear it.
I'm Lisa and this is the Lovely Appetite blog. I’m always experimenting with recipes, hunting through cookbooks for inspiration or trying out new places to eat. Please browse the site and enjoy reading about my findings.