When we waste food, it’s not just the food we’re wasting, it’s the resources taken to produce it too – like water and the land that could have been cleared to grow it. With a massive 25-30% of global greenhouse gases coming from the food system, we need to do reduce food waste.
Habits can be hard to change, but if each of us made small changes to the way we buy and use food – eating that last slice of bread, freezing that brown banana, planning your main meals so you only buy what you need in your shopping – we can change the amount we waste and all have a big impact, together.
Here we share ways to help you reduce your food waste AND your carbon footprint. Please do share this post with friends and family.
Top tip #1: Learn how to store your food
Store your food in the best place, whether the fridge, the freezer or the cupboard, to help your food stay fresher longer. But how do you know where to store it correctly? Click here for this fantastic A-Z food storage tool This tool also tells you how to keep food fresher longer, whether you can you freeze it and how to use it up. Try putting bread in the freezer, then only bringing out the amount you need for defrosting. Did you know? If we all stopped wasting bread at home in the UK for a year, it could do the same for greenhouse gas emissions as planting 5.3 million trees!
Top tip #2: Is your fridge at the right temperature?
Apparently only half of us know that our fridge should be below 5 degrees C. If your fridge is too warm then perishable foods like milk will go off much quicker.
Not all fridges actually show the temperature (just low, medium, high) so here’s a handy tool to reset your fridge so it can chill!
Top tip #3: Be fridge savvy
Be shelf smart – when you get home from the shop, put your newly bought food at the back of the shelf and ensure your older food is brought to the front. This will help you to remember to use your food before it goes off.
‘Eat me first shelf ‘– why not use the top shelf in your fridge to put food that is close to its use by date or food you’ve opened.
‘Flung together meal’ – get creative and plan a ‘flung together’ lunch or meal to use up this food. Click here for some inspiration.
Top tip #4: Make friends with your freezer. Think frozen when you’re shopping
Visit the frozen food selection as its a helpful way of ensuring you always have some fresh nutritious food without the worry of it going off within a couple of days. Perfect for vegetables and berries.
Keep a small space free for leftovers – sometimes you can cook a little too much or your dish stretches to more than those in your family (such as a pie or a lasagne) or you batch cook a large meal size to save time another day and to make the most of your oven cooking energy. So store your leftovers in a specific place in your freezer so you know they’re there. Here are some great batch cooking recipes
Remove guesswork by adding a label – food can last for a while in the freezer, but add a label so you know what the meal was and when you cooked it – removes the guesswork and helps you ensure you eat it when it is at its best.
Top tip #5: Remember tins! Tinned are just as nutritious as fresh
Avoid buying fresh fruit and vegetables when there is chance you might not use them in time, remember tinned fruit and vegetables are just as good and count towards your 5-a-day. Tins are also infinitely recyclable too.
Top tip #6: Write good lists and snap good ‘shelfies’
Before you head to the shops, or start an online grocery order, check what’s in your fridge, freezer and cupboards. Make and update lists on what you’ve got and what you need to reduce duplicates and overspending. And if you’re not a list-maker, snap a ‘shelfie’ to refer back to on your phone when you’re shopping (or use Google Keep).
Top tip #7: Be thrifty with your food. Save £60 a month!
An average family of four can save £60 a month simply by reducing the amount of food they throw away. So become a smart shopper by planning your meals together as a family. Involve children, perhaps fussier eaters, to minimise food waste, and to encourage a variety of new meals, including some meat-free options perhaps. Once you have your meal plan, work out what you already have in stock and what extra ingredients you need. Then you buy only what you use – and what everyone agreed they’d eat! Retain your previous plans so you can use them for inspiration another week. Check out this article.
Top tip #8: Cook the right portion sizes.
It can be difficult knowing how much to cook, especially foods like rice and pasta. So use this simple portion planner – it calculates typical serving sizes for you.
Top tip #9: Don’t just eat it, complEAT it
Our everyday actions and preferences (established over the years) are responsible for a huge amount of food waste as many of us choose to ignore the skins, leaves, stalks and crusts of our favourite foods.
So start leaving the skins on when you make chips or apple crumble, cook the leaves too when you have cauliflower, chop up and cook the broccoli stalk too (it’s the tastiest bit!), and use those bread crusts for pizzas, breadcrumbs and much more.
Top tip #10: Date labels – use your senses
Take a quick glance at your food packaging – chances are, there’s probably a date on there somewhere. But what does it mean? We know that the dates can be a bit confusing if you don’t understand the difference. So here’s a great link to help you ‘make sense’ of them – knowing your ‘use by’ from your ‘best before’ from your ‘sell by’ dates.
If food waste were a country, it would have the 3rd biggest carbon footprint after the USA and China.