Five Ways To Reduce Your Household Food Waste
Have you ever stopped to think about how much food goes into your bin every week?
Those leftovers from when you cooked far too much for dinner or the vegetables that started to go past their expiration date before you had a chance to cook them.
Although food waste in the UK has fallen over the last three years, we are still throwing far too much away which means that there is a lot of work to be done.
These statistics alone prove just how excessive food waste in the UK truly is:
- There is over 6 million tonnes of food waste every year costing over £10 billion
- This is approximately £250 - £400 per household every year
- Almost half of this food waste is still edible
Food waste doesn't just come from homes, the entire food industry plays a role from catering businesses and restaurants to supermarkets and wholesalers; however, we can only control the part that we play in the issue.
It's one of the easiest bad habits to break when it comes to sustainable living and it can have a huge positive impact on your life such as saving you a lot of money on food.
What is the problem with food waste?
The problem is simple. With about a third of all food produced for human consumption being wasted, roughly half a million tonnes of food waste is going to landfills in the UK every month.
This food is then left to sit there and rot becoming a significant source of methane. In fact, it has 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide and is the third highest emitter of greenhouse gases.
Furthermore, growing and transporting the food that only ends up going to waste emits as much carbon pollution as 39 million passenger vehicles.
It's clear that food waste has a substantial negative impact on the environment and is contributing massively to climate change which is why we need to assess the ways in which we can reduce our footprint by cutting down on how much food we throw away.
How can you reduce your household food waste?
Change always starts at home, quite literally in this case.
Here are just a few ways in which you can lessen the amount of food being wasted by your household, from being smarter when you shop to storing food correctly….
Make a meal plan before you do your grocery shopping
Being more prepared and organised can help ensure that you only end up buying what you need and not in excess. It is easy to get carried away when you go to the supermarket without knowing exactly what you are cooking each day so take a few minutes before heading out to write up a list of your meals for the week and the ingredients needed for them.
This will also inspire you to check your fridge and cupboards to see what you already have to avoid making any duplicate purchases that may also end up going to waste.
All in all, this will keep you on track and even save you time in the supermarket.
Check expiration dates before buying food
Following on from this, having a meal plan mapped out for the week will help you shop smarter too as you will know what expiration dates you need on certain foods. For example, if you know that you are making a salad on the 10th then there is no point in buying vegetables that expire on the 8th.
By having a plan and checking expiration dates, you will avoid finding yourself in the situation where you have expired food in your fridge and cupboards that need to be thrown away before you have the opportunity to eat them.
Also, on a side note, when we talk about expiration dates we are referring to 'use by' and not 'best before'. Best before dates are just a recommendation and tell you how long the item will be in its prime condition which doesn't mean that it is harmful to consume after this date has passed. Most foods can still be eaten days after their 'best before' date, just give them a visual and smell check beforehand.
Store food correctly to preserve it for longer
One big mistake that many people make, and that can lead to food going bad a lot quicker than it should, is in how they store their food.
A common example of this is bananas. Most people are not aware that it's best to store bananas away from other fruits rather than in a fruit bowl and to keep the bunch together to stop them from turning brown too soon. You should also try wrapping the conjoined stalks tightly in cling film which can, apparently, help them last five days longer.
Do some research into the most effective ways of storing your food in order to prolong their life and keep them in the best condition for as long as possible. It's a great way to save yourself some money too.
Know your portion sizes to reduce leftovers
We should all know by now how much food we need to satisfy our hunger or feed our household at meal times. If not, then it is important to pay close attention to this and take note.
This will mean that you stop cooking too much food for breakfast/lunch/dinner and throwing unwanted leftovers away.
This is even more important when we find an urge to cook a little more for ourselves because we feel hungrier than usual. Stick to your standard portion sizes no matter how hungry you feel because, chances are, you will always eat roughly the same amount of food and if you are still hungry after a meal you can always fill that with a dessert or a snack.
Freeze and reheat leftovers rather than throwing it away
Even when you do know your portion sizes this doesn't always mean that you will get it exactly right every single time. Some days our appetite is slightly less than on other days, or when we have guests over we may cook a little more to ensure that there is enough for them too. In these cases, leftovers are unavoidable but they don't have to be a problem. It is all about what we choose to do with these leftovers.
Instead of tossing them straight in the bin, invest in some reusable containers that can be used to store leftovers in the fridge overnight or in the freezer for a future date.
This can be a huge money and time saver when you end up with three or four frozen meals on standby one week as well as being a great way to reduce household food waste.