Food waste is a big issue. It is estimated that in developed countries around 100kg of food per person is wasted every year! In UK equivalent of 250 million meals is going uneaten while one in 9 people around the world does not meet their daily requirement for food. UK wastes 14 billion pounds worth of food every year. We produce more than enough food to feed the world but waste nearly 40% of it! This is truly shocking. Many countries including Haiti, Chad, Madagascar, Mozambique are on a list of top 10 “hungriest countries”. While it sounds like a distant problem 1 million people in UK assessed food bank in 2019 and in US, 40 million people live in poverty.
Why 1/3 of the total production of food go to the bin every year?
Can this be right? Who is to be blamed for this crisis?
While there is a lot of waste from the farm, through processing, transportation and retail, in developed countries, consumers are responsible for the majority of food waste at 40% and above! According to Olio area larger then China is used to produce crops we will never eat while 25% of words fresh water is being wasted to grow those crops.
5 ways to minimise food waste now
1. Plan your meals
Sounds quite simple and it truly is! Make this a habit. Overbuying leads to waste. I sit down with a cup of coffee for 15min every week and plan my menu for the week ahead. Before doing that, I quickly check what is still left in the fridge. Those produce would ideally be used to make my next meal. When planning it’s a good practice to start with meals that use “fragile” products such us berries, peaches, salad, broccoli, avocado. Those will only last couple of days before going bad. Other veg such us cauliflower, carrot, cucumber, potatoes, apples, pears, oranges, cabbage will be happy sitting in your fridge on your shelve for much longer.
Start with making list of meals you fancy eating, write list of produce you will need to purchase next to each meal and than decide which will have to be eaten first based on the principles above. Planning 2 meals for the end of the week that are based on dry, frozen or tinned goods will minimise chances of waste .
2. FIFO – First In, first Our
What’s is FIFO? It’s way to efficiently manage the food you purchased to minimise waste. Understanding the shelf life of your produce is a key. When you come home with your shopping ,organize your produce in the fridge bringing the products you need to eat in first place to the front and keep the new buys at the back. We do tend to forget about it if we can’t see it! Supermarket uses the same strategy to ensure that produce with shorter shelve life will be sold first.
3. Love your freezer
Buying frozen fruit and vegetables is not only great way to access nutritious food without the stress of it going bad but also it’s often much cheaper and not at all less nutritious than fresh! Spinach, peas, corn, squash, berries, mango, bananas… I love my fresh fruit and veg so I always have plenty at home but you can still enjoy frozen berries in a smoothie or the top of porridge, especially good practice when your favorites are out of season . Add some frozen spinach to your curry or serve your favorite burger with some cook from frozen corn on the cob, Yum!
4. Leftovers are your treasure!
I came to a stage in life where I deliberately cook a bit extra for dinner and leftovers are my lunch for the following day. I find this is very efficient way to manage leftovers but I also it means don’t have to worry about spending extra time in the morning to prepare my lunch. All leftovers go straight into my lunchbox and into a fridge ready for the next day.
Leftover can also be your gateway to a cooking free day! When you plan your meals for the week, dedicate one day to eat all your leftovers. Instead of spending time in the kitchen that day you have some time to read a book, go for a walk or play with your kids. Win Win!
5. Rescue mission
We might be planning well but sometimes life is taking over! Last minute dinner out with friends, your boss treats everyone to a lunch, your partner gets a take away….next time you look in the fridge you realize that there are some sad looking produce that you really don’t fancy eating anymore? Before you bin it considers a rescue. There are plenty leftover recipes available online which will guide you how to use overripe produce.
Be creative and rescue what you can.
Almost all fruit and veg can be frozen! Just have a bag in your freezer and keep adding to it. Smoothies, cakes, crumbles, home made lollies are all great ideas to use leftover fruit. There are many other options.
- Preserving is really easy
- Making a compot for your pancakes or to go with a cake
- Juicing fruit and veg is always great idea and super quick solution
- Make a jam
- Pop some fruit in your water jug for extra flavour
- Use in dressing or make a salsa
Veg are great for freezing too. Chop them first so they can be used straight from the bag without need for defrosting. Stews, soups, sauces are all fantastic with those frozen jewels. Any more ideas?
- Leftover veg are great base for a stock
- Pickle it! Super delicious, crunchy and healthy option
- Make some veggie crisps
- Roast it- roasted batch can still be kept in the fridge for coupe of days
- Chutney can be made with almost any veg
“We do not need handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly! “(A.M. Bonneau)
If you are a parent like me, not only by being conscious consumer I save lots of valuable food (and my hard-earned cash!) but also teach our children about importance of sustainability.
Are you a conscious ninja? What’s you best tips to tackle food waste?