Watch your Waste - minimise food waste
06 May 2021 at 10:05
Watch your Waste
Lots of us do our bit by recycling or composting our food waste, but have you considered ways to minimise that wastage in the first place? We worry about the environmental impact of producing food but did you know that a staggering 30% of the world’s agricultural land produces food that ends up being wasted? That’s the equivalent of spending £100 on groceries then putting £30 straight into the bin!
Of course, the waste isn’t all down to consumers – however it is estimated that the average household wastes between £200 to £400 worth of food each year.
Here are some tips to minimise that waste:
1. Know your use by from your best before
“Use by” dates are usually found on fresh food including meat, fish and dairy products. They show the date by which you can safely consume a product. Food should not be cooked, consumed or frozen after this date as it may not be safe. “Best before” dates are usually found on longer life products like dried foods, tinned foods and confectionary. The best before date refers to quality rather than safety. The flavour or texture may have deteriorated there is usually no need to dispose of food that has gone a few days or even weeks past its best before date. Further information can be found on the Food Standards Agency website.
2. Organise your fridge
In keeping with the point above, sort your shopping and organise the fresh foods in your fridge so those that need to be used first are near the front. Consider freezing any foods that you will not be able to eat before the use by date – see point 4 below.
3. Plan your menus
To avoid wastage, plan your meals so that you know which items you are going to consume on which days. Unwrapped fruit and vegetables don’t carry a best before date so some planning is needed to make sure you eat them while they’re at their best. Don’t eat frozen fruit if you still have fresh fruit to use up, and if you have a cauliflower that needs using consider making cauli rice rather than boiling dried rice.
4. Get freezer savvy
Most food can be frozen for several weeks. Salad vegetables with a high water content (like lettuce and cucumber) don’t do well in the freezer, and eggs need to be removed from their shells, but apart from that there is a way to freeze nearly anything. When veg start to wilt you can blend them into puree or soups for the freezer - better still catch them before they go soft and freeze in suitable tubs or bags. The BBC Good Food website has detailed information about how to freeze different foods.
5. Only shop what you need
Whether you shop once a week, twice a week or once a fortnight - be realistic about the amount of fresh food you eat in a week, how you are going to use it and the amount of storage space you have. Planning your weekly menu in advance can also help with this.
6. Clear out your cupboards
If you are hoarding old tinned food and other long life foods that you bought at the beginning of the Covid pandemic, now might be a good time to go through your cupboards and fish out anything you aren’t likely to use, then take it to your local food bank or collection point at your local supermarket.
7. Offer surplus food to others
Food banks can’t usually accept fresh foods, so if a mistake with an online order means you buy more than you can use or someone surprises you with a meal out or mini break (lucky you!) then you might be left with an unexpected surplus. If you realise that food is going to go to waste ask neighbours or friends if they can make use of it.
Posted in Environment