5 Tips to Reduce Food Waste
Did you know that globally we lose one third of all food produced due to food waste and 40% of our fruit and veg? UK households throw away around £500 pounds of food and 40kg of recyclable packaging on average, per year. Considering that malnutrition and plastic pollution are global problems on a mammoth scale, there is vast room for improvement. I am by no means saying I am saint when it comes to waste because let's be honest, it is impossible to always remember to finish your yoghurt before it goes off or to always buy without plastic but I have learnt a few tips that have really helped me reduce the amount I throw away each week.
1. Buy loose produce when possible
Opting for loose apples, potatoes, etc not only means you will only buy what you need, it also means you can avoid buying extra packaging. Packs of fruit and veg are convenient, but each pack often has a plastic tray and plastic wrapping that usually ends up in the bin. A massive bag of potatoes is also often too much if you are just shopping for two so some of the food ends up in the bin!
2. Ditch the plastic bags
While buying loose produce, there is absolutely no need to use the little plastic bags they provide for your fruit and veg. You should be washing your fruit and veg anyway so it is perfectly safe to just grab them as is, or if you hate the idea of that, take some reusable baggies to the supermarket with you alongside your big shopping bags.
3. Stop relying on use-by-dates
While use-by-dates are put in place for our safety, they are very conservative and often food is completely healthy to eat past those dates. Instead, learn what food actually looks/smells like when it goes off. Obviously I wouldn't eat something if it is well past its use-by-date, but if it is only a couple of days, inspect it and make a judgement.
- Dairy: an obvious sour smell or curdling.
- Red meat: pungent smell, slimy texture, discolouration.
- Poultry: strong smell, slimy.
- Fish: pungent fish smell, slimy/sticky film, discolouration.
- Fruit: furry mould, mushy texture, sickly sweet smell.
- Veg: sprouting, yellow colouring, slimy texture.
4. Love your freezer
Most foods can be frozen, milk, bread, herbs, sauces, you name it! This goes along with no. 3, if a food is approaching or has reached its use-by-date and you have no plans to cook it that day, just pop it in the freezer if it still looks fresh. Many foods can be kept frozen for months so you will definitely have time to use it up if it is in the freezer!
- Milk: 3 months
- Meat: 4-6 months
- Oily fish: 3-4 months
- White fish: 4-6 months
- Bread: 4-6 months
- Fruit & veg: 8 months
- Leftovers: 4 months
5. Plan your meals
Planning your meals and your shopping list efficiently makes it much less likely that you will waste food. Buying only what you need for your planned meals means you won't buy lots of random ingredients and end up throwing things out! Planning what you are having at the start of the week and writing a shopping list for it makes food shopping a breeze. If you would like more resources on meal planning, check out my Meal Planning Guide. It is a free 10 page ebook with info on how to structure a meal plan, tips and tricks and printable weekly meal plan and shopping list templates!