The 29th of September is the International Day of Awareness on Food Loss and Waste Reduction for only its second year. While we can thank the UN for the least snappy title in history, the message of the day is an important one. 9.5 million tonnes of food waste is lost annually according to an updated WRAP study and 71% comes from UK households. You don’t have to change your name to Raindrop turn into an ecowarrior that lives in the woods to make a tangible difference. You can take up these small changes to you habits and cut down on food waste and see those staggering figures drop dramatically.
It’s easy to wander around a shop filling your trolley on a whim, but if your anything like us, when you get to the trolley you’ll have spent way more than you planned and mostly on unhealthy junk. If you plan your meals for every day, you’ll only buy what you need and cut down on food waste with hardly any effort. On top of that it’s a superb way of being adventurous with your food, getting healthier, or simply making more out of mealtimes. When you walk around Asda or Sainsburys, only pick up the ingredients you need rather than impulse buys. Shops invest a lot of money to convince you to buy on impulse. Shop smart and don’t give them your money unless you really want to.
Getting to know your produce and what it needs will help you keep it fresh for longer. Did you know cucumber should never be kept in the fridge, or that bananas produce ethylene gas that promotes ripening and speeds up spoilage? If you start by looking into your household staples and get the storage right, your food will last longer, and you’ll get more meals to enjoy. Identify the foods that regularly end up in the bin and see if you can extend their life with better storage.
Size, and Shape, Don’t Matter
For too long the fruit and veg we buy has been chosen for the shop because their size and shape match up to a scale. Any ‘misshapen’ or smaller produce either doesn’t make it to the shelves or won’t be bought by customers. We need to move away from this thinking and accept that our veg is no less tasty when it’s bent or bulging. It’s not going to make your meals any less tasty and it will save it from going off.
Freezer is Your Friend
There’s no need to let any food go off when you have a freezer in the house. Our advice is to clear out a shelve and keep it for close date food. This is your best tool to help cut down on food waste because you can throw individual ingredients in and store delicious pre-cooked meals. If you’ve got the budget and an old freezer, it’s a good idea to upgrade when you can. At places like Currys and AO.com you’ll find models that come with fancy technology that will them run more efficiently and make your food last longer.
Water the Plants
If you have stem vegetables in your fridge you can make them last that bit longer by storing them with their stems in water. All you have to do is take your broccoli, asparagus, or other fresh stem and store it on a plate with water. This will keep you 5 a day crisp and fresh for longer.
Soup, Sauce, and Dips
When it comes to rescuing foods on the brink, there are few easier ways than turning them into a delicious soup, sauce, or dip. You can boil and blitz most veg into a tasty soup that you can just leave to simmer. You can make a tasty salsa, guacamole, or frittatas out of all your left over veg for a snack or lunch the next day. If you want to cut down on food waste, you’ll need to find ways of turning your ingredients into more than one meal. Luckily, we live in a time when countless recipes are available for free.
More Guidelines than Actual Rules
We all know someone that lives their life by the sell by date. The second the clock hand ticks over that food is done and they won’t entertain eating it. Don’t be like that, Susan. First of all, sell by dates and use by dates are two different things. Sell by dates are about only selling the best quality to keep the shops reputation with customers. They have nothing to do with your health. But even use by dates should be treated as guidelines because they are about protecting the company, not you. Those guidelines will tell you when you need to be on your toes, but if it looks and smells fine, you should be good to eat it.
If you follow these simple tips, you will cut down on food waste and save yourself some money on your shopping bills but expecting to go waste free might be unrealistic right away. Maybe going all in isn’t for you and you just want to do a bit better, there’s nothing wrong with that, but you’ll need something to do with any waste you do have. That’s where composting comes in. Throw any veg you don’t use straight in a composting bin and turned into something useful for your garden.
There are plenty of guides online to help you through the process, but if you stick to organic materials and leave out things like meat, dairy, and bones, it’s a simple and easy way to put your left overs to good use. DIY superstores like B&Q and Wickes have in expensive bins, liners, and bags you need to get started and it could lead to a new love of gardening.
It’s unrealistic to expect everyone to make these little changes, but if you do, you’ll save yourself money every time you pop to the shop and you’ll be doing some good. It turns out cutting down of food benefits will save you money and do a little good for the planet, it’d be silly not to.