Top 10 Tips to Reduce Food Waste
Did you know that if food waste were a country it would be the worlds 3rd largest greenhouse gas emitter? We often talk about solutions to climate change when really we should be focusing on prevention. 6.6 million tonnes of food is wasted every year in the UK. That's enough to fill every bus in London, 5 times over! While that is an astonishing amount of waste, the good news is that you can take some very easy steps to help minimise your food waste and therefore your impact on the environment. Here are our top tips:
1. Organise food according to expiry date
Many will have duplicates of certain items such milk in their fridge. Take a few minutes out of your day to place the oldest items in the most accessible points of your fridge. Educate the rest of your family to use oldest items first before opening new ones.
2. Know the difference between best before and use by dates
There exists 2 types of expiry dates; Best Before and Use By. The UK Food & Safety Agency advises householders not to consume produce after the Use By date. You should certainly follow this advice. However for Best Before dates, it simply means the quality of taste will diminish after the date but it is still safe to eat. It is your responsibility to inspect the food to see if it's okay to eat. Usually a quick smell test and small nibble will do the trick.
3. Store fresh items in the fridge
Most Fruit & Veg should be stored in the fridge. Even items such as bread should be stored in the fridge. Storing these sorts of items will slow the rate of bacterial production and increase the shelf life of your produce.
4. Freeze Items
Don't have an immediate need for certain food items? No drama, place it in the freezer until you do need it. Most food items near expiry will last for at least 2 weeks in the freezer. When you're ready to cook with the produce, just place it in the fridge the day before to defrost.
5. Share with your neighbours
As a nation, we love big extravagant dinner parties. Often there is tonne of food leftover, what better way to share your wonderful culinary skills with your fellow neighbours. Most people love eating home cooked food from other backgrounds and cultures. Minimise waste and make friends at the same time!
6. Avoid large Shops
We've all been there. You're at the supermarket and a person in front has a shopping trolley spilling over with food items. Unless you're an expert food planner, which let's be honest, most of us aren't, avoid going on large shopping sprees. Around 30% is expected to go in the bin, unopened. Instead, try and visit your local supermarket 2-3 times a week. This allows for flexibility in our ever changing lifestyle.
7. Make Jams & Pickles
If you've got a lot of fruit and veg that you have no use for, it's incredibly easy to make pickles, jams and marmalades as long as you have some glass jars. Most recipes require a short amount of cooking followed by a few other ingredients. You can make gherkins from cucumbers, marmalade from oranges, jam from berries. You won't regret making a home made spread!
8. Use reusable packaging
Once you've opened a certain item, say a berg of lettuce the process of oxidation begins. Oxidation is what causes lettuce to produce dark patches and is a friendly foe of bacteria. You can slow down this oxidation process by using reusable wraps such as those made from beeswax. Not only is this better for your food but avoiding clingfilm directly tackles unsustainable waste.
This is sort of a last resort tip but if you have fruit and veg going off and you don't want to freeze it, simply place the fruit in a blender with a little water and chug it. A rather brutal approach to ensure food doesn't get wasted but super quick if you literally cannot be bothered to chew. For veg, you can boil and blend with a little butter and seasoning to make a soup.
10. Make Stock
Most of us, my self included think that trimmings should just be automatically thrown in the bin. These include peels, scraps, seeds and stems. But in many cases, this is where most of the flavour is held and is exactly why you should make stocks from this organic shrapnel. Simply freeze enough scraps until you have enough. Then when you're ready, place the scraps into some boiling water with seasoning and simmer for a few hours. Drain the scraps and place your home-made stock into smaller containers to provide packets of flavour for any dish at any time in the future.