8 Ways to Reduce Food Waste
The good news is that 60% of our food waste is avoidable. Here are some practical tips for reducing waste in your home
How much food is wasted in the UK?
Nearly a third of the food produced for human consumption is wasted. But we all have the opportunity to make a huge difference towards reducing this scary statistic: almost 5 billion tonnes of our food waste is classed as edible and 85% of that waste occurs in our homes. By reducing the amount of food we waste, the average UK household can also save £470 a year!
Plenty of incentive to give it a go, so here are practical tips towards reducing your food waste.
1. Write yourself a shopping list
Food planning is one of the best ways to start to cut back on what you don’t end up eating. Make a rough plan of your week’s meals and create your shopping list around those before you head to the shop. An added benefit of this is that you’ll probably save yourself both cupboard and fridge space as well as time spent in the shop deciding what you need!
2. Read the special offers
While they may seem like good value, buying things because they’re on offer can lead to buying things you don’t need. Unless you’re sure you’re going to eat whatever-it-is, or it works with your plan, try to resist the offers. TIP: your shopping list and also online shops can help to achieve this one! (If you’d prefer your fruit and vegetables were delivered to your door, Oddbox is a great option.)
3. Organise your fridge
Why not be a real pro and apply one of the guiding principles of food retail to your own home? The idea we’re referring to is: first in, first out. Take a couple of minutes to rotate the contents of your cupboards and fridge before you unpack your shopping, making sure older stuff is brought to the front and shiny new groceries are placed further back. This saves time when you come to actually use them and significantly reduce the chances of anything festering at the back. Result!
4. Don't throw away...yet
It turns out that 20% of food waste is due to confusion about what the dates stamped on the packaging really mean and here’s why.
“Best before” and “use by” dates are two very different things, but it’s easy to mistake the former for the latter. The important difference: “best before” is about quality, whereas “use by” is related to safety. Best before dates — most often seen on frozen, tinned and dried foods — are an indication that the food may be past its “best” but is still perfectly safe to eat. Use by dates — generally found on foods that spoil quickly like ready-to-eat meals or meats — mean that the food is no longer safe to consume, even if it looks ok.
With best before dates, use your nose and how food looks to do a final check before deciding to either throw away or keep for another day. The government has actually considered scrapping best before dates, so you might start to see these disappearing from your food items soon!
5. Store food correctly
There are lots of steps we can take to store our food correctly and keep it fresh for longer. For fridge items, set your fridge at 5°C (if colder than this, your food is more likely to freeze unintentionally). It’s also good to be mindful that while most fruits and vegetables are best refrigerated, not all of them are. Some — like tomatoes, garlic, potatoes and onions — are best kept in a cool, dark cupboard while others — like bananas and whole pineapples — last better when left on a countertop. In fact, experts would scream at you for keeping the refrigerated because keeping them out of the fridge is better for developing their delicious, natural flavours.
6. Freeze items
Almost any food can be frozen so this is another great way to minimise food waste. So when you’re rotating your cupboards, keep an eye out for anything getting close to going off.
By freezing food, you’re pressing the “pause” button; it won’t lose any nutrients or deteriorate in any way, it’s also a great way to preserve local, seasonal produce to give you a hit of summer berries in your winter porridge without hiking up your carbon footprint. Most fruits can be put straight in the freezer (some, like grapes and berries, make great ice cubes) but most vegetables need to be blanched first (chopped, boiled for a couple of minutes then transferred immediately to cold water) to avoid freezer burn.
TIP: freezing isn’t recommended for the following: artichokes, chicory, aubergine, lettuce greens, potatoes (unless they’re mashed), radishes, sprouts or sweet potatoes.
7. Reduce portion sizes
This one carries over to eating out as well as at home. We can all find ourselves at the mercy of the “eyes bigger than belly” phenomenon, especially when we’re hungry! But becoming aware of how much you eat and cooking smaller meals to avoid unplanned-for leftovers is a surefire way to reduce your food waste.
8. Give spare food away
If you have food that’s nearing the end of its life, and you’re unlikely to use it, a quick Google search can bring up your local food bank (the Trussell Trust is a good place to start). 90% of foodbank food — used to provide emergency nutrition to people in crisis — is donated by the public, so every little really does help.
Why not avoid shopping and food waste completely by ordering a delicious allplants meal delivery? Part of the reason we came into being was to provide a healthy, environmentally-friendly alternative to both takeaways and cooking for busy people; the fact that ordering our meals helps you cut back on food waste is a huge bonus.
Enjoy delicious, ready-to-eat meals from your freezer, made by our chefs, daily. All our packaging is either recyclable or reusable, and we only use plant-based ingredients - good for you and the planet.
By Munjeeta Sohal
MJ is a freelance writer, avid reader and habitual ruminator (and user of fancy words). She couldn’t live without books and her cats. On her days off, you can find her cycling up and down the Lea Valley, searching for a great vegan recipe to cook, or, well, reading her book with her cats.