We talk about food waste and we might even think about food waste – but do we really know how to reduce food waste? Eating for the environment is a key food and lifestyle trend for 2022, but why does food waste make a difference to the planet and how can we individually make a difference? We’ve broken down why reducing food waste is important, and some very simple steps you can take to do so.
Why do I need to reduce my food waste?
Save your pennies
One of the biggest benefits of reducing food waste is the impact on your food bill! Reducing food waste and shopping savvy means you will be naturally saving money as you’ll be streamlining your ingredients and cutting back on anything unnecessary. Reducing food waste starts very much at the planning stage (which we will get into further down), and so your food shops should become leaner and cheaper. Happy days all round.
Help the planet
In 2020, it was reported UK households waste 4.5m tonnes of food a year (Waste and Resources Action Programme). Whilst this was an improvement on previous years, scientists and researchers agree much more needs to be done to reduce food waste. Food that isn’t properly recycled or composted ends up in landfill – and landfill contributes to our global gas emissions. Reducing food waste also decreases the pressure on land and water resource.
The good news is there are some really simple things we can all do to make a difference and reduce food waste.
Our ten top tips to reducing food waste
1. Meal plan in advance
Reducing food waste all starts here – it is ALL in the planning. Pick a day of the week to plan your meals for the week ahead, a weekend is generally a good day to go for, as you have time to search for recipes you like. Where possible, try to go for recipes which share some of the same ingredients and try to go for recipes that will feed the entire family. Map out all your meals and snacks where possible.
2. Don’t overbuy
You’ve got your list, it’s time to get it to the supermarket for your food shop. Make sure you don’t go shopping when you’re hungry so you don’t overbuy, and just purchase what you need. Buying any ingredients which don’t fit with your meal plan could create waste, so try as much as you can to stick to your list and not deviate.
3. Have a food waste bin
Lots of councils now will provide a food waste bin, which is a specific bin for food waste which will be properly recycled rather than end up in landfill. If you don’t have one, log onto your council website to purchase or request one free of charge.
4. Maximise your freezer
Time to become best friends with your freezer – and what we mean by that, is freeze freeze freeze! Any fruit or veg that are going out of date can be frozen for a later date (blueberries, spinach, apple, mango, broccoli etc). You can also freeze meat and fish before it goes out of date, to be defrosted and used at a later date. You can also freeze portions of meals when you batch cook or when you have leftovers (curries, sauces etc). Maximise the use of your freezer and plan ahead to prevent throwing out gone-off food.
5. Organise your kitchen
It's not just your freezer that you can use to maximise storage space, you can take a look at your fridge and cupboard layout too. It may be worth creating a specific drawer or shelf in the fridge of foods which are going to go out of date soon, so you remember to consume them and the same goes for your cupboard goods. It’s also worth noting not all fruit and veg has to be stored in the fridge – like potatoes and onions (which might free up space for more chilled or preprepared goods).
6. Buy imperfect fruit and vegetables
Often the fruit and vegetables that end up in the supermarket are those which have been farmed for perfection – but there are a lot of ‘imperfect’ fruit and veg that don’t make the cut, but can be found in local grocers, farm shops and even on some online delivery services. Try to look out for that knobbly/bobbly imperfect fruit and vegetable – it tastes just as good, we promise!
7. Create unique recipes from your waste/peels
There are parts of food like peels, seeds and cores we just don’t usually eat – but what if we told you there are chefs and content creators who are busting this very myth? Check out social media for some home chefs who are showing truly innovative ways to incorporate your peels/seeds into your cooking – eliminating waste.
8. Maximise sauces and dips
Here is a super easy hack – got any veg going out of date? Make a sauce and freeze. Got some fish that needs cooking and freezing? Add a sauce to it, cook and freeze. Got some odd bits and bobs – make a dip and freeze/consume in the coming days. There aren’t many vegetables that can’t be made into a paste, sauce or dip, so utilise this to reduce food waste (and flex your creativity!)
9. Measure your portions
It can be easy to mis-measure portion size, especially when cooking for large numbers of people. Wherever possible, measure out exactly how much you need per person and use that quantity where cooking. Anything over can always be frozen or popped in the fridge for a later date remember!
10. Think about what you order in a restaurant
It's not just when we’re cooking home that we need to be thinking about waste, we also need to think about it when eating out. It can be so easy to order extra sides or sharing plates when eating out, but where possible only order what you really think you have the capacity to consume. If there are any leftovers, don’t forget to ask for a doggy bag!
Which food reducing hack are you going to try first?