Every day in the UK, we waste 20 million slices of bread, 280 tonnes of poultry and 4.4 million tonnes of potatoes. And that’s just for starters. Each year, we bin 6.5 million tonnes of food – of which 4.5 million tonnes is still edible.
It adds up to a staggering £700 annually for an average family – and lots of carbon emissions that could easily have been avoided. Reducing food waste is one way we can cut both our shopping bill and help save the planet. As the cost of living crisis rages on, avoiding putting things from the fridge or cupboard straight into the bin is a win win.
Our grandparents had the right attitude to avoiding food waste. There’s a huge crossover between them and modern zero waste influencers. It’s simply a matter of making use of everything. In these challenging times, we could all embrace some good old-fashioned thriftiness! Here are some of my tips to get you started:
Plan your shop
Plan a menu and shopping list for the week, so you don’t put things you don’t need in the trolley. Try and avoid ‘Buy one, get one free’ deals, unless you genuinely need two of something for your meal plans. They just encourage food waste, so say ‘Bog off!’ to BOGOFs!
Bulk buy staples – like rice, flour and pasta – to cut down on packaging and save money. Also, look out for meat alternatives. Meat is very expensive. A University of Oxford study found that meat-free eating can reduce your costs by up to one third. Chickpeas, lentils or beans are more affordable and healthier too. You can use them to make protein-packed meals that taste amazing.
Store food by date
When storing items in the fridge, put those with the shortest shelf-life at the front, so they’re eaten first. Some food goes off quickly once packaging is opened, so write the date that you first opened it to remind you that it needs eaten. Whilst ‘use by’ dates need to be followed for health reasons, ‘best before’ dates are just a guide. That’s why buying food from the reduced section that you can freeze or eat straight away is another great money-saving idea.
Don’t send fruit and veg scraps and peelings to landfill
If you have a local food waste collection, make sure to add fruit and veg skins, peel, pips, stones and cores to your council caddy. By increasing recycling rates you’re ultimately helping your council save money and help stop your tax bill rising too much. If you don’t have a local food waste collection, any fruit and veg scraps can be turned into garden compost.
Be creative with leftovers
Leftovers can be frozen or turn them into next day’s lunches. Left over veg, for example, can easily be made into soup. Stale bread can be made into bread and butter pudding – or blitzed into breadcrumbs that you can use in a whole host of recipes. Alternatively, you can investigate apps like Olio, which enable you to find or share surplus food. Such a great idea.
Make everything you buy go as far as it can. All too often we throw away pieces of fruit and veg that are actually edible – and full of nutrition. Take pumpkin and butternut squash seeds, for example. Once you’ve separated them from the flesh, you can rinse them clean, dry them out, dust them with spices or herbs, coat them in some oil and then roast them. A delicious and healthy snack! Cauliflower leaves can also be roasted. Lemon and orange peels can be candied and then used in baking. Apparently, you can use banana skins to make a tea that’s said to help you sleep.
Change your habits
Changing your habits can be daunting at first, but if you start by making one change, you can build from there. You’ll be surprised by how quickly you get into the anti-food-waste mindset! You’ll soon be cutting your emissions – and saving money. Food takes lots of fresh water, land, energy and labour to produce. We should be treating it as a precious commodity. As things stand, if food waste were a country, it would be the third highest emitter in the world. Buying less, planning meals, and reusing leftovers all help to reduce food thrown away and saves us money. A delicious idea indeed.
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