Eco Tips

Curtailing food waste

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

Reducing food waste

4..5 million tonnes of food is wasted by UK households each year – that equates to 12.5 million tonnes CO2. Avoiding waste is about only buying what is actually going to be eaten within the shelf life of the food stuff.

  • Plan meals
    • plan a daily menu or a weekly menu. This way you will know what food/ ingredients you need.
    • think about portion sizes: eg portion of protein = 30g nuts, 2 eggs, 90g meat, or 150g cooked beans or pulses.
    • check which ingredients you already have and which additional items you need to buy.
  • Make a shopping list and use it: buying extra may be storing up future waste.
  • Think about using alternative or substitute ingredients.
    • if a recipe asks for peas and you haven’t any, can you use chopped courgette/ apple/ dried peas?
    • if celeriac is on your shopping list but not in the shop, can you buy carrots/ parsnips/ sweet potato instead?
  • Plan your meal according to what you already have.
    • Rather than buying a complete set of ingredients, create a recipe that uses what you already have.
    • Use up ingredients that are in your fridge that would otherwise go out of date. Try the internet for ‘fridge clearing’ recipes.
    • If you have left leftovers from a previous meal, incorporate them into today’s meal
  • Make good use of a glut. If you have an excess amount of a food or if there is a really good offer at your local shop, have a go at food preserving . Excess fruit can be bottled, made into jam, or made into chutney. Excess vegetables can be pickled, fermented or made into chutney.
  • Store all food stuffs carefully so as to keep them fresh and maintain their life. Some foods – like potatoes – are best kept in breathable (paper/ cotton) bag that excludes light. Some are best kept in bags – eg carrots and root vegetables – to stop them drying out. Some are best kept in the fridge such as cucumbers and lettuces. Some are best kept out of the fridge such as apples and tomatoes.
  • If you shop locally and buy locally produced foods, less food is likely to be wasted in the distribution chain. Try a fruit and veg box scheme that comes direct from the farm.
  • Be ready to buy small or oddly shaped fruit and vegetables that would otherwise be discarded. Some fruit and veg box schemes such as OddBox, specialise in sourcing products that are either small, misshapen or surplus to demand.
  • Buy and eat food that is in season.
  • Have a few recipes that use only store cupboard ingredients so that you can always make a meal with what’s in the house. Eg spaghetti with a tinned tomato and haricot bean sauce, garnished with black olives.

Author: Judith Russenberger

Environmentalist and theologian, with husband and three grown up children plus one cat, living in London SW14. I enjoy running and drinking coffee - ideally with a friend or a book.

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