Food waste – as we have probably all heard it lately on the news is a major contributor to climate change. Between 33-50% of all food produced globally is never eaten and that is a staggering figure. Which means that we waste lots of energy, resources and of course it’s also a moral problem. It’s not just about starving people somewhere else it’s also an economical problem for all of us. Our food supply system is now globalised, the simple demand-supply system looks like this: the same demand for of Western countries for food will drive up the price of food grown for export in developing countries. It also exhaust natural resources which leads to accelerated degradation of natural habitats. Composting is a good thing, but it’s not always an option (especially if you live in a city and you don’t have a garden) but not creating that food waste in the first place is much better for the environment.
So, I’ve collected some ideas and my tips how to fight food waste on a very simple way. These tips and tricks are for everyone, no matter if you live in a flat or a house and ultimately, they will even save you money. Which is always a plus!
It all begins at shopping for food
1 If you go to the supermarket you can often find food that is just about to go off (well, according to the expire date anyway) cheaper and they would be otherwise thrown away. Also a lot of supermarkets sell now wonky fruit and veg cheaper as they are not up to some standards. (Which are hopefully changing. An odd shaped carrot is still a carrot.)
2 Local markets and are always your best friend if you have any around. Fresh and local produce last longer as they get to you when they still super fresh.
3 Have a shopping list. Only buy what you need, it’s hard in the supermarket as they are designed to tempt you into impulse purchases. I do online shopping and that way I just re-order the same things mainly.
Cooking and portions
4 Try to control your portions. Eating less is good for everyone anyway. (I find this really hard and I often cook too much food.) Measuring ingredients out properly is always helpful.
5 It might sound obvious but: use up as much as you can of your ingredients. Don’t chop off the ends of the carrots for example. Vegetable scraps can be used to make broth.
Love your leftovers
6 Save food and leftovers and eat them next day or freeze them. Batch cooking is great to save money, time and food being thrown away. Turn your left overs into a new meal: leftover risotto makes a fantastic arancini, that are a full meal with some side salad.
7 Sauces or dips are a great way too to use up leftovers. For example beans or pulses can be mashed with some garlic, lemon juice and herbs for a dip. Too ripe avocados are great for guacamole or make chocolate avocado mousse.
Maximise your fridge and freezer
8 Treat expiration and sell-by dates as guidelines. Especially with organic food items, fruits and veggies last . way longer as it’s indicated. (Except supermarket strawberries. They go off two day before the expiry date. Duh!) Eggs just simply have to be put in a bowl of water if you’re unsure about their freshness. If they float to the surface, they’re no longer fresh enough to eat.
9 Freeze everything you can. Bread expires today according to the label? Stick in into the freezer and use as toast. Too much herbs from the herb garden, chop them up and stick them into the freezer. Meat product is about to expire? Freeze it. A lot of fruit and veg can be saved by quickly chopping them up and putting them into the freezer. Even hard cheese freezes well.
10 Check the temperature in the fridge regularly. It should be between 0-5C. This saves products from going off too quickly.
11 Do regular clear outs and get creative with the food you have to use up.
Store food the right way
12 Some veggies and fruits should not go into the fridge (like onions, potatoes and bananas) as well as other food items like bread or honey.
13 Organise and keep clutter free both your fridge and pantry, so you can see what you have and you won’t buy too much.
There’s lots of ways to use up bits and pieces
14 Lemon too old to eat? Still good for cleaning.
15 Veggies are looking sad and old? Cook a pasta sauce with them and freeze it.
16 Make bread crumbs with old bread or with the bread ends.
17 Hard ends of cheese (like parmesan) is great in soups, never throw them away!
18 Bread crust are great to make moorish cinnamon-sugar bread or bread pudding.
19 Honey gone too hard? Heat it up by placing the jar into warm water – it will be runny again.
20 Toast the pumpkin and butternut squash seeds – they make a healthy snack!
21 A smoothie can give a new and delicious life to a a lot of fruits and veggies.
If you have a garden, utilise it
22 We all love our gardens, preferably full of flowers and summer parties. But do reserve some space to grow your own veg and herbs. Growing your own food is the best way to fight food waste.
23 If you don’t have a garden, just a balcony, you can still grow your herbs – in fact potted herbs can even live in your window till!
24 Pickling and preserving is also a great way to make food last longer – straight from your garden.