Nearly a fifth of all the food we buy in the UK ends up in our bins or down the drain, that is enough to fill 38 million wheelie bins! As well as the environmental impacts of this waste, it costs an average of £720 per household per year. The Love Food Hate Waste campaign is a national campaign to help make food last longer, and improve our understanding of the best ways to store food and inventive ways to use it up.
If global food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gas after China and the US.
We’ve all heard the old adage about prior planning and preparation prevents poor performance and been told to prep like a boss but what does it really mean? Well, in terms of food waste, the place to start trying to cut down our food waste is planning. By following the simple steps below you can help cut down on food waste, speed up your food shop and even save some money too.
- Write a meal plan – by knowing how many people you’re cooking for and what you’re going to make you know exactly what to buy
- Write a shopping list – it might feel like it takes a long time but it more than makes up for it in store. Why not try using an app where you can add essentials as they run out?
- Check off anything that you already have in the fridge, freezer and cupboards. We’ve all come home from the shop with a bag of pasta or a tin of beans to find you already had what you needed at home
- Stick to your list! It can be tough to resist the end of aisle offer or the temptation of a multi-buy but will save you money and waste
- Buy just what you need – multi-buy deals can be great if you will use it all in time but if not can just be a waste
Know your dates
Date labelling on foods can be very tough if you’re not sure what you are looking for. There are three main things to remember:
- Best before dates are simply a guide to when food is at its best. As long as it looks, smells and tastes fine it can be safely eaten after this date
- Use-by dates are a clear rule and shouldn’t be broken, these are for food safety
- Most foods can be frozen right up to their use-by date, check the packaging if you’re not sure
The way that we store our food can significantly prolong its useable lifetime. If in doubt check the packaging for information but we have some quick tips below:
- Keep dried goods airtight. – Using a bag clip, peg or airtight box to store dried goods like rice, pasta, flour, cereal or crisps can preserve their lifespan
- Freeze foods in handy portions. I may be cheaper to buy your meat by the kilo but if that isn’t how you’ll eat it, split it up into useful portions before freezing. This will give you flexibility and cut waste
- Keep your bread airtight in a cool, dark place (not the fridge) to make it last longer
- Store fruit (except bananas and whole pineapples) in the fridge to make it last longer
- Check the storage instructions on your food. Often the packaging is specially designed to make it last longer
By simply cooking or preparing just what we need we can dramatically reduce our food waste. And if you do make too much, use it for leftovers and cut down next time you make the same dish.
- Measure portions carefully and just cook what you need
- A mug of dried rice is four adult portions
- Two loose handfuls of pasta twirls is an adult portion
- Enough dried spaghetti standing up to cover a 1p piece is an adult portion
- Store leftovers in portions you are likely to want them
- Freeze foods in portions you are likely to need them – remember it’s easier to get two bags / pots of mince out of the freezer than to come up with a way to use up twice what you need
Love your Leftovers
It is time for us to start loving our leftovers. Leftovers are food that you have lovingly prepared that didn’t get used up but that doesn’t mean they’re done, no, their tale is just beginning.
- Leftovers make great, tasty meals in a flash and are fabulous for an easy tea in a hurry
- Store leftovers in the right portion for you. It could be single portions for lunches or a bigger portion to get tea for the whole family on the table in a flash
- Use any leftover ingredients to make tasty new dishes by getting creative in the kitchen and if you need a little inspiration visit Love food hate waste for some great recipe ideas
- Use your leftovers to have a pot luck tea – freeze leftovers as individual portions and once a fortnight let everyone pick their favourite then simply defrost and re-heat – dinner in a flash and lots of variety to share.