10 Simple Ways To Stop Food Waste
Did you know that the world produces more than enough food to give everyone on earth a healthy diet? So, why does hunger and famine still affect millions of people across the globe? A big reason is that as much as one third of all food produced worldwide is wasted every year. Wednesday, 28th April is Stop Food Waste Day, an international charity event dedicated to raising awareness about food waste and all the things we can do to help end the waste.
In anticipation of Stop Food Waste Day, we’ve come up with a list of 10 simple ways you can stop food waste. From prepping meals with a weekly planner and getting smart with food saving apps to buying funny-shaped vegetables and setting up a compost bin in your garden, we’ve got some great ideas here. If you want to learn how to reduce food waste, read on!
Become a freeze master
One of the easiest ways to stop food waste in your home is to properly use your freezer. Freezing any leftover portions of chilli, casseroles and other dishes lets you defrost meals during the workweek instead of cooking a fresh meal every day. Simply move the frozen food to the fridge the night before and heat it up in your microwave when it’s fully defrosted. Plan ahead and you can prep meals weeks in advance!
It’s important to make sure you keep your food in the freezer properly. If you’re using it to prep meals for an individual person, it’s a good idea to pack them into freezer bags or small freezer-safe food storage containers. That’s because it’s not safe to refreeze food once it’s defrosted. Another great tip is to write out the recipe you’ve frozen and the date it went into your freezer on a sticky note. That’ll make it easier to organise your meals.
Learn the difference between ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates
A lot of food gets thrown out even when it’s perfectly safe to eat. Why? It’s because people sometimes only pay attention to the date on the package, not the words around that date. Always check whether the date on your food’s packaging is a ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ date.
What’s the difference? If your food has a ‘use by’ date, it means that the food can spoil and harmful bacteria can start to grow in it. Eating food with an expired ‘use by’ date can put you at risk of food poisoning, so it’s definitely something you want to avoid. ‘Best before’ dates, on the other hand, refer to quality only. Provided it’s stored correctly, food with a ‘best before’ date is still safe to eat, it just might not be as delicious. Stale biscuits are a good example of a safe food that’s expired its ‘best before’ date.
Keep dry food well-preserved
We all know that we should carefully store fresh produce, meat and other perishable food, but there are plenty of dry foods that can also go bad if they’re not kept in the proper environment. Bread can go mouldy, sugar can harden into an unusable brick if left in its packaging, even staple carbs like pasta and rice can go stale. Thankfully, there are a number of ways you can store these foods to prolong their life. Bread bins stop your loaves from growing stale by keeping air away from them. The same is true for tea, sugar and coffee canisters.
Many packs of rice or pasta have ‘resealable tabs’ built into their packaging, but these are easily torn or just wear out before the packet’s empty. A good alternative is to buy cereal dispensers. Originally designed to hold your favourite breakfast cereals, these dispensers also work well for other small dried food like rice, pasta shapes, quinoa, lentils and more.
Don’t be put off by funny-shaped vegetables and fruit
Another great way to stop food waste is to buy odd-shaped vegetables and fruit. If you go to a supermarket, you’ll find that their stocks of fruit and vegetables are almost identical from plant to plant. This can trick you into thinking that uniform plants are natural, but it actually requires a lot of wasted food. Supermarkets give farmers strict guidelines for how their produce can look before it can be stocked on the company’s shelves. That leaves a lot of funny-shaped vegetables and fruit thrown away to rot.
Luckily, there are some fighting back on behalf of funny-shaped vegetables and fruit. One place to look is your local farmers market. Many farmers take the produce they can’t sell to supermarkets there, and you can source locally too. Or you can head to websites like Too Good To Go or Wonky Veg Boxes. These startups buy up the fruit and veg that supermarkets don’t want and ship it to your door! These weird-shaped wonders taste just as delicious as their pristine counterparts, and usually even come with a much smaller price tag to boot. Not to mention, they’re fun to look at, and work wonderfully as a talking point during dinner parties!
Make your own jams or pickles
Have you finished baking a cake, only to discover that you’ve got lots of sugar and fruit left over? With a handy mason jar or two, you can skip throwing these leftovers out and make some delicious jam. Or, if you’d rather have a tangy treat, leftover eggs and vegetables can be pickled easily too, just replace the sugar with vinegar!
Making preserves is a surprisingly easy (and definitely delicious) way to stop food waste. If you’re looking for inspiration, you can find lots of specialist cookbooks dedicated to preserves. What’s more, they make wonderful gifts to your loved ones, particularly at Christmas where they pair perfectly with party food. After all, there’s nothing quite like a homemade gift to show someone you’re thinking of them.
Blend fruit and veg into soups and smoothies
Another tasty way to stop food waste is by grabbing a blender and blitzing up your leftover fruit and veggies into a delicious and nutritious drink. Spare bananas, apples and other fruits will work brilliantly blended together in a smoothie, and you can even add vegetables like spinach, kale and carrot, too.
Some vegetables (like leeks and cauliflower) won’t be very nice in a smoothie, but they can still make a great addition to a hearty, warming soup during those cold winter months. Just like with jams and pickles, there are lots of tasty recipes to be found in cookbooks for blenders. And, you can even freeze your freshly made soup for up to three months, perfect for when the weather takes an unexpected turn and you need a good warming up.
Cut down on waste with a compost bin
If you’re asking how to reduce food waste, something you should invest in is a compost bin. This is because almost half of the food waste in a kitchen bin could have been composted. Plus, the resulting mulch makes an amazing fertiliser for your garden.
If you’re looking to stop food waste specifically, you might want to explore the Bokashi system. Bokashi uses a special kind of microbe-rich bran that breaks down food in a special Bokashi compost bin with a spigot at the bottom. The reason Bokashi can help you stop food waste is that its anaerobic process means you can safely put meat scraps, animal bones and fish carcasses in your compost bin, as well as vegetable peelings and leftover fruit.
Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry
You’re not you when you’re hungry - so says the ad campaign of one popular chocolate bar. The thing is, there’s actually some science behind it! Researchers have found that shoppers who went to the supermarket hungry spent more money on food than those who shopped while full, so if you’re peckish you’re more likely to buy food you don’t really need and will end up throwing out later.
Hungry shoppers also gravitate towards more calorific food as well, so shopping on an empty stomach is not a good idea if you’re dieting. If you’re looking for a simple tip on how to reduce food waste and save money at the same time, waiting until after lunch to shop is a great place to start.
Get organised with a weekly meal planner
Avoiding famished shopping is one thing, but if you want to be super organised in your journey to stop food waste, you’ll need to set up a weekly meal planner. Planning the week ahead means you’ll only buy what you need. It’s not all boring busywork, though. If you plan your meals ahead, you can pencil in space for trying new recipes and varying up your meals instead of using the same recipes in rotation to prep meals.
It’s important that you place your weekly meal planner somewhere that’s conspicuous so you don’t need to search for it before you go shopping. That’s why lots of food waste busters like to use magnetic meal planners attached to their fridge. Another good idea is to sort the weekly meal planner with the rest of your diary. For example, the Dodo Meal Planner is an erasable meal planner made to attach to the spine of the popular Dodo Pad diaries.
Alternatively, if you prefer to use technology to organise your life, there are a number of apps that can be used to plan meals. Popular note-taking app, Evernote, for instance, has a weekly meal planner template that you can adapt to your needs. Then you can keep your phone with you and check the app as you shop.
Download a food waste app
They say there’s an app for everything, and that’s true for stopping food waste. There are some great apps out there for smartphones and tablets that give you great tips on how to reduce food waste. One of the most popular is Karma, an app that lists restaurants, bakeries and cafes with food nearing its sell-by date on a map. You can place an order for this soon-to-be-thrown-out food at a discount. Sometimes the potential savings are massive, so it’s another way to stop food waste and save money at the same time. What more could you want?
Waste not, want not
And that’s it - 10 super simple ways to stop food waste. By incorporating some of these tips and tricks into your daily life, you can do your bit in the battle to stop grub going to the garbage unnecessarily. Not to mention, it’s sure to cut down your weekly food bill significantly - win-win!
Here at OnBuy, we’ve got a scrummy selection of food and drink to tantalise your taste buds. Why not stock up your food cupboard with everything from tins of baked beans to herbs and spices, or treat yourself or a loved one to a prettily presented food hamper while you’re here? Whatever you pick, it’ll certainly be delicious!