Think about chucking money in the bin every couple of days. Who would want to do that? That’s essentially what you are doing when you waste food; not to mention the excess methane produced in the process, which, of course, is exactly what our fragile planet needs more of.
With this in mind, just under two years ago, I decided to make a conscious effort to try and save money and do our bit for the environment. Like many people, the pandemic had an adverse effect on our finances, and changes had to be made.
So, I have gathered together a couple of hints and tips that might be useful in your pursuit of reduced waste.
- The freezer can be your friend! Have a clear out; throw away that undefined food item wrapped in tin foil; give away things you know you are not going to get round to eating and start again. There is a lot of love for the freezer in this article.
- Vegetables were often one of the things that we chucked out; raw vegetables can actually be chopped up & frozen and are great for stews, soups and sauces etc. Vegetable trimmings can also be frozen and used for vegetable stock.
- Cooking meals from scratch is great, but in reality, when you come home tired and hungry, the process of prepping the ingredients, then cooking, then eating, loses out to the quick fix of a takeaway. So, maybe keeping a couple of pre-prepared things in the fridge might be helpful. Grated cheese, tomato sauces or chopped onions, for example, kept in food storage boxes in the fridge, which can be thrown together as a pasta dish or put on top of a pizza base in a matter of minutes, is ideal.
- Bread was another thing which I realised we were throwing out way too often. So, slice and freeze it (I told you there was a lot of freezer love in this article); bread does freeze well and it is quick and easy to defrost.
- Smoothies are a great way to use up fruit and veg which are starting to turn. Let your imagination run riot: an apple, peach and spinach smoothie might just turn out to be fab.
- Find out when your local supermarkets have their ‘happy hour’; this is when they reduce stuff – but be selective in what you buy; that family size chocolate trifle might be a bargain at 50p, but if you end up being the only one who wants to eat it, you have two options, either you end up eating it all yourself, or you throw half of it in the bin. Neither of those two options are ideal. Just picture yourself, chocolate and cream round your mouth, full of regret, not great is it? I know I can’t have been the only one.
- Do a weekly stock check of food you have in – what are you running low on? Make a list to take with you when you go and do your food shop, and try to stick with it.
- Get your portions right, especially with things like rice and pasta. Two to three tablespoons, or 50 grams of uncooked rice per person, or two to three tablespoons / 56 grams of pasta per person is plenty. Remember both rice and pasta double in size and weight when cooked.
- Check your fridge temperature – it should be between 0-5°C; the warmer your fridge, the quicker food will go off.
- Keep a note of the type of food you are throwing out on a regular basis – is there a pattern? I was regularly throwing out crème fraiche and sour cream after only using a certain amount, so now I really try to only buy smaller tubs.
Following these tips, I have noticed that, not only has our food waste been reduced – a happy by-product of being more thoughtful about the food we are using – but we have become more creative in our cooking and this has resulted in having a healthier diet. It really is a win, win.