Approximately one third of all food produced by or imported into the UK is wasted. UK households contribute to 7 million tonnes of food waste each year.
The issue has many implications, especially on our carbon footprint. Food sent to landfill emits millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases. Not to mention the amount of money wasted on food that doesn’t end up being eaten.
Taking small steps can make a big difference. We’ve looked for ways to help stop wasting food so that you can save money and earn some eco points.
How to Stop Wasting Food – Plan, Prep and Prioritise
It may seem overwhelming but we can all do our bit to combat food waste. It doesn’t have to involve a complete lifestyle overhaul.
But it does mean we need to take note of how food is being wasted in our own homes, and make the changes needed to reduce it.
If we break down how we use our food we can highlight areas where change is needed. Then we can slowly build on that change to create new habits.
Here’s some ideas to help you reduce food waste or to stop wasting food altogether.
Planning Like a Pro
A great way to cut back on unnecessary waste through over-purchasing is to spend time planning your weekly meals in advance.
Set aside time to go through cookbooks or favourite recipes you haven’t used for a while. Look for ways to use up ingredients you already have.
If you’re going on holiday then make fridge ‘stock taking’ part of your prep. Start taking note of what you have left in your fridge and freezer a few weeks before you leave. Jot it all down and plan how you can use up perishable items before you go.
Planning help to think about what and how much you need to buy before doing your shopping. But there are still hurdles to overcome when browsing around the aisles or online.
Start by saying bog off to BOGOF (Buy One Get One Free) deals. Sometimes a good deal is useful but often we can be swayed to buy more than we need. Ask yourself if you’ll use the extra items and if not, resist the urge to buy.
It may surprise you how much money there is to be saved. A great way to cut down on impulse buying is to shop online. And never shop when you’re hungry! Doing so will make you more likely to pick up that extra-large-family-jumbo-pack of your favourite snack.
Cooking up a Waste Savvy Storm
Planning and forward thinking will help you streamline the amount of food you need each week. Taking the time to plan what you’re going to cook in advance may inspire you to try something new.
Batch cooking helps to use up ingredients. Freezing portions for quick midweek meals will make you very grateful later in the week!
Fermenting leftover vegetables and turning surplus fruit into jam is also a great way to avoid unnecessary food waste.
Using Old Produce, Scraps and Leftovers
We accumulate food offcuts from our cooking and prep as well as produce past its best at the back of the fridge.
These items may seem of no use, and we may think the only option is to throw them away. But there are ways in which we can get creative and stop wasting items we would otherwise disregard.
You can also freeze vegetable ends in a bag or pot to use for stock at a later date.
If you’re heading to a dinner party or out for a meal, remember to take a container with you. You can use your handy tub to store leftovers which helps to prevent food waste outside of your home too!
Fiendish Food Storage
How we store our food can help enormously in cutting down the amount we need to throw away. There are a few tricks that can help keep food fresh and prolong its life.
Be sure to keep fruit and vegetables in the crisper drawer of your fridge. These drawers are designed to trap moisture and stop produce from drying out too fast.
There are also some nifty gadgets that reduce food waste. Nanology fruit and veg savers can double or triple the life of fresh produce with their small, non – toxic discs. Food preserving bags are great for potatoes and onions and food seals such as Food Huggers will seal anything from a tin can to half a lemon.
Even when we take steps to ensure we don’t over buy there are bound to be items that slip through the net. It’s helpful to try and keep an eye on which foods are likely to perish first and prioritise using them up.
The Eat Me app helps to organise your food and turns your fridge into a smart fridge. It can be used to scan the barcodes of items as you put them in, notifying you when items are approaching their use by dates.
Eat Me also provides recipe ideas using the ingredients you have in your fridge. This makes sure you make the most of what you have and use it in good time.
For those of us with food recycling bins it’s all too easy to throw in our leftovers. But scraps such as vegetables and fruit, coffee grounds and tea bags can be used for home composting.
Composting doesn’t need to be complicated. There are plenty of simple guides and stylish home compost bins available.
Be a Food Donating Hero
Sometimes offers lure us in, and we end up with a cupboard full of kidney beans and chickpeas that we won’t get through.
Have a clear out of store cupboard goods and give them to your local food bank to help families in need in your community. Or use sustainability apps such as the Olio food sharing app to share surplus food with your neighbours.
When you’re heading on holiday you may need to find a home for that leftover milk and bread. So don’t forget neighbours with large families. Or head to your nearest church. They often provide hot drinks and snacks at community events and are always grateful for donations.
Greed vs Need
The food waste problem in the UK is worrying, especially when millions of people are going hungry. Fareshare are the UK’s largest charity fighting hunger. 46% of people accessing their services have gone a whole day without a proper meal in the last month.
Despite 7 million tonnes of food waste in the UK, 8.4 million people struggle to afford enough food. We need to stop wasting so much food, so that it can reach the people who need it most.
A Waste of Space
As well as the human impact, there are other implications to such large scale food waste. To move and distribute food uses energy, fuel and water – all of which contribute to climate change.
So when we throw away leftovers or spoiled fruit and veg it’s not just food we’re wasting. We’re also wasting the resources that went into producing it, such as labour, water and land use.
Water is being wasted by the bucket load. It takes 100 buckets of water to produce just one loaf of bread, and bread waste is a serious problem. We throw away 24 millions slices of bread every day in the UK.
Wasted food that ends up in landfills produces methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas that contributes more to global warming than CO2. Approximately 25% of manmade greenhouse gas emissions are created by food waste.
Stop Wasting Food: Food for Thought
It may seem as though we can’t make a difference, but starting at home is the best thing we can do. Like most habits we want to change, it requires small, yet significant steps to make strides on a bigger scale.
With so many tricks and technologies it’s a lot easier for us to seek ways to stop wasting food. We don’t all have to do it all. But we all have to do something.
Putting some of these ideas into practice will enable us to change lifelong habits whilst saving money. And in turn set a change in motion for future generations.