Today is Stop Food Waste Day, which means we’re going to be talking all things food waste with another post in our sustainability series. ♻️
Stop Food Waste Day is a global awareness day focused on fighting food waste by empowering us with skills and tips to make the most of the food we have. 💪 It is estimated that 33% of all food produced globally is lost or wasted every year and that we can attribute 8% of all greenhouse gas emissions each year to food loss and waste. Those are quite startling figures but fear not because change is possible. Today Didi from Sustainable Deeds is sharing with you, her top tips to reduce food waste in your own kitchen!
1. Write a shopping list!
Modern life has become so busy and full of ‘convenience’ options that many of us no longer shop weekly for groceries, but instead shop ad-hoc here and there to suit our hectic routines. The humble shopping list is also something that many of us have shunned in favour of buying what we fancy on the day. Not only is this an expensive way to shop but it is also a key contributor to the amount of food waste that each of us generates.
In an ideal world, I would recommend trying to meal plan and then shop weekly or fortnightly to suit the meal plan. However, if a regular shopping routine is just not going to work for you then I recommend at least keeping a running shopping list on your phone. This way it’s really easy to add things to the list when you run out of them, and also simple to look at when you pop into a shop on the way from work for example.
2. ‘Use me first’ containers
Our love of shopping whenever it is convenient can often result in us buying fresh foods, whilst the same items have disappeared to the back of the fridge to shrivel up! To combat this, I have created two ‘use me first’ containers, one in my fridge and the other on my kitchen counter. Every time I use half a pepper or quarter of an onion, for example, I pop the remainder in the relevant ‘use me first’ box. Then next time I come to cook something, I head straight to those boxes to check what produce needs using up. Keeping these perishable items in one place ensures that they do not get lost and therefore wasted.
3. Use your freezer
Freezers are often thought of as the place to keep quick oven-ready food like chips and pizzas, but a freezer can be so much more! In my household, we freeze all sorts. For example, half a tin of tomatoes if we don’t need to use a whole can, and the same with coconut milk. We also keep a freezer bag or container for vegetable scraps that can later be used to make soups or stocks. Each time you have sad-looking veg or a broccoli stalk too many, pop it in the freezer rather than throwing it out and you will have the makings of a super tasty meal!
There will always be some food waste that can not be avoided. Whilst we try to ‘Compl-eat’ things like carrots by not peeling them, I am not going to tell you to eat your onion skins and banana peels! For the fruit and veg scraps and used tea and coffee grinds that are inevitable, please try and compost these items. If you have a garden, then you can buy or build a really simple compost bin using materials from your local garden centre or DIY store.
If you live in a flat or shared accommodation without outdoor space then composting can be trickier, but it is not impossible. Many large towns or cities now have community composting schemes where you can donate your food waste to a communal compost heap to be used in a park or community garden. Have a little look to see if there is a scheme available in your local area. We are lucky enough to have an allotment close to our house, so we just take all our scraps up there once or twice a week.
5. Get creative in the kitchen
I thought I’d end on a tasty note. A great way to combat food waste is to get more creative in your cooking, baking, and preserving. The past year may have made us all sick to death of banana bread! But, I have another clever way to use those bananas that are lurking at bottom of the fruit bowl. This does take some prep work, but it is so worth it for the delicious result. Sad-looking bananas make excellent ‘Nice’ cream, a super simple take on traditional ice cream! To create this dessert, simply chop up your bananas and pop them in the freezer for at least a few hours.
When you are fancying a sweet treat, take the frozen bananas and pop them in a food processor or blender with a spoon full of tahini and flavourings of your choice and whizz it up into a smooth but thick consistency. I tend to put some cocoa powder or peanut butter in mine. Once blended, you can either eat the ‘Nice cream’ right away if you like a soft-serve style ice cream, or you can pop it back in the freezer to firm up a bit. Such a fun way to use up something that is often wasted!
Those are my top food waste reduction tips, but please head to the Stop Food Waste Day website for lots more ideas and inspiration on how you can waste less food and create positive change for our planet. 🌍