How to Reduce Your Food Waste

Food waste is a big problem. Between 33-50% of all food produced globally is never eaten while 1 in 9 people on the planet are either starving or malnourished. In the UK, over 1 million people accessed a food bank last year alone.

Food waste also ruins the environment, if you’re looking for ways to be more eco-friendly reducing the amount of food you waste is a great start. During the production of food, land is deforested, species are driven to extinction, indigenous populations are forced out of their homes, and soil is degraded. And once we throw unwanted food away it goes to landfill where it creates methane (which is 23x more deadly than carbon dioxide).

But the good news is that we can start making a difference today. The average UK family throws away 22% of their weekly shop (worth £730 per year). Shopping smarter, planning your meals and making use of leftovers is not only better for the planet but it will also save you money. Here are some of the ways you can reduce your food waste.

Reduce food waste

Food waste is terrible for the environment

Know the Difference Between ‘Best Before’ and ‘Use By’

A use by date on food is about safety. Foods can be eaten (and often frozen) until the use by date but not after. It’s important to follow the use by date as these are used for foods that may contain bacteria if stored for too long. Make a note of the best before date when you buy food and make sure to have a plan to use it before it goes out of date.

The best before date is about quality. The food will be safe to eat after this date but may not be at its best. Food with a best before date can often be eaten much later than the date suggests.

Packaged foods usually display storage recommendations. Make proper use of your freezer to preserve and extend the life of your food and you can even prep meals in advance. There are tonnes of advice on how to freeze food correctly like here.

Store Food Correctly

Over 60% of household waste in the UK is due to food spoilage. Incorrectly storing fruits and vegetables can lead to premature ripening and, eventually, rotten produce. For example, potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, cucumbers and onions shouldn’t be refrigerated; they’re supposed to be kept at room temperature.

Packaged foods usually display storage recommendations.

Give Ugly Foods Some Love

Only buying ‘perfect’ looking fruit and vegetables contributes to food waste. Lots of supermarkets now offer “ugly” fruits and vegetables at a discount in an attempt to reduce waste.

It also worth mentioning that lots of households will throw away the skin/crust of foods when they’re perfectly fine to eat. This is a shame, because so many nutrients are located in the outer layer of the fruit, veg or in poultry skin. 

Organise your Fridge

Avoid food waste by keeping your fridge organised so you can clearly see what you have and when their use buy dates are.

If you’re placing leftovers in your fridge try to use clear tupperware so that you don’t forget about it.

Cook smart

Make homemade stock. Sauté vegetable scraps (e.g. tops, stalks, peels and any other leftover bits) with some olive oil or butter, then add water and let them simmer into an aromatic vegetable broth.

Make homemade smoothies. Instead of throwing away stems, ends and peels of produce, try adding them to a smoothie instead.

Save and re-purpose seeds. To save pumpkin seeds, simply wash and dry the seeds, then toss them with a little olive oil and salt and toast them in the oven.

Compost your food waste

Composting your food scraps is one of the best and readily available sources of organic materials for your garden. What better way to make use of your wasted food than return the nutrients to the Earth.

Some local councils provide food scrap buckets, but if not these can easily be purchased at a gardening store. There are indoor and outdoor options depending on your preference. Be sure to do your research as not all food waste makes good compost. Here are some of the basic foods you can and can’t compost:

Do CompostDon’t Compost
Vegetable and fruit waste (including rinds, cores, or pulp)Meat waste (including bones, fat, skin, etc)
Anything made out of flour (e.g. pizza crust, noodles, old bread)Fish waste
Grains, rice, barley, spices (cooked or uncooked)Dairy products (cheese, butter, yogurt, cream)
Coffee grounds, tea bags, filtersGrease or oils of any kind

Using food waste as compost is a great way to generate your own plant food to nourish the plants in your home and garden. If, like me, you don’t have a garden, save your compost and offer it out to a neighbour who can put it to good use.

Meal Prep

Meal prepping is the concept of preparing whole meals or dishes ahead of schedule. It’s particularly popular amongst busy people because it can save a lot of time. Having pre-prepared meals on hand can reduce portion size and make sure that you use all the food you have available.

If you’d like to give meal prep a go Jo & Leisa offer meal prep for beginners guidance.

Connect with Neighbours

A great way to reduce your food waste is to offer food that you aren’t going to use to your neighbours. You can even download an app that allows you to offer unwanted food, crafts and other household items to your neighbours.

Local businesses also use the Olio app to share unwanted food that would otherwise go to waste.

More Ways to Reduce Your Waste

Sustainable Swaps – Reduce Your Environmental Impact

4 Ways to Avoid Single Use Plastic

22 Ways To Save Money & The Environment

What Is Ethical Banking?

Reasons To Support Local Businesses

Writing this post opened my eyes to how bad food waste really is and as a result I now plan out my meals for the week and have a compost bin. I hope that you’ve found some useful tips from this post on how you can easily reduce your food waste too. Let me know what steps you’ve taken to save food and money below.

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