Tips for food waste action week
2020 changed the way many of us think about food. More of us have been cooking meals at home and baking together as a family than ever before. Now, with normal life in the not too distant future, is the perfect time to look more closely at our relationship with food and start the conversation about food waste.
Food waste is one of the biggest contributors to climate change, with a lot of resources, energy, time, and transportation being used to bring us the food we eat. In an average year, UK households waste 4.5 million tonnes of edible food, this was reduced by one third during lockdown. This food waste action week, we are working with WRAP and the Love Food Hate Waste Campaign to bring you simple tips to help keep edible food out of the bin and save you money.
It’s a date
Do you know the difference between a ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates? ‘Use by’ is about safety, food should not be eaten after this date as it is not always possible to detect bacteria that may be present, which could lead to food poisoning.
‘Best before’ is about quality and while food might not be at its best after this date it will still be safe to eat for some time. How the food is stored will affect the length of time that it is still safe to eat, use your senses to make a judgement.
Over two-thirds of the food we waste is edible. Using every edible bit of your food – or ‘compleating’ – is essential to tackling food waste and getting the best value from the food you buy.
Leafy parts of many veggies like celery, carrots, and cauliflower can be eaten, homemade stocks and soups are a great way to finish off some of the parts you’d usually throw away. Small changes like leaving the skin on when you make mashed potato or using the stalks of leafy herbs like basil and coriander will also make a big difference and may save you time as well!
Chill the fridge out
The average fridge temperature in UK homes is nearly 7°C, however foods will last longer if they are kept at under 5°C. Those couple of degrees make a big difference! Some areas of your fridge will naturally be less cool than others, for example, the door. To see where best to store different foods to keep them fresher for longer watch this helpful food storage tips video.
Once everything is at the right temperature try to keep it that way. Each time the fridge door is opened the temperature can rise significantly and take hours to cool down again. Putting hot food straight into the fridge will also increase the temperature, allow it to cool at room temperature for a couple of hours first.
Cooking the correct portion sizes not only helps to prevent waste but can help you to eat more healthily too. You’ll find recommended portion sizes printed on the packaging for things like pasta and rice, so grab your scales to weigh out the correct amount. If you’ve not got scales there are other ways to measure, for example, a mug filled with dry rice will cook enough for four adults.
Still have leftovers? Get creative and transform your leftovers into tomorrow’s lunch or simply freeze them for another day – make sure you label them first though!
Snap a shelfie
Making a list is the best way to make sure you only buy what you need. If you don’t have time or you’re just not a fan of shopping lists a quick picture of your fridge/cupboard on your phone can help to make sure you don’t buy anything you already have at home.
It might sound simple but storing food in the correct conditions really makes a difference. Most fruit and veg will stay fresher for longer in the fridge, while onions and potatoes should be kept in a cool, dark, dry place.
Your freezer is a great way to store leftovers and excess, especially if you have been tempted by a ‘buy one get one free’ or your meal plans have changed. If you’re unsure where to store food or whether you can freeze it, check out the Love Food Hate Waste A-Z of Food Storage.
Ice ice baby
Ice-cube trays are perfect for freezing leftover milk, wine, and even chopped herbs (topped up with oil) in easy-to-use portions. Bread is one of the most thrown away foods. Did you know you can freeze your sliced loaf and toast it straight from frozen? Lots of food you may not have even thought of can be frozen, again, the Love Food Hate Waste A-Z of Food Storage is a handy guide to find out what can be frozen.
Join the composting club
For any food that can’t be eaten, composting is a way to recycle it, giving it a new lease of life in your garden. Composting is another way to reduce emissions caused by food waste, while regenerating soil.
There are lots of different types of composters on the market to choose from, local residents are currently trialling different types, and we will publish the results soon.
For more tips on preventing food waste check out our social media during Food Waste Action Week.