According to the government, consumers, retailers, wholesales and caterers in the UK waste around 8 million tonnes of manufactured food every year and half of this is wasted at home. The total value is estimated to be around £16bn. This is the equivalent of £700 per household each year.
Sainsbury’s Waste less campaign invested £1m to turn market town Swadlincote into an official test-bed of ideas and innovation. We have compiled some of the tips that were put together following this year long trial.
Stop food waste and get organised
Sainsbury’s research revealed that a quarter of people throw away food because they buy products they’ve already got in the fridge. It is said that overbuying results in £1.5bn being wasted by UK households annually. More organisation could change that.
- Take a photo of the contents of your fridge – this could save the average UK household £235 a year – the average being wasted on over-buying.
- Put it on a list – one third of people don’t write shopping lists, according to WRAP. It is considered a good habit to keep a note pad and a pen on the fridge and note down items as they run out.
- Try it for yourself – for two weeks write down everything you throw out. You will more than likely discover that you’re repeatedly binning the same items. This is now your chance to reduce the total cost of your weekly shop.
Label lovers stop food waste
Understanding the ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates of food is key to cutting waste. The ‘use by’ date is about safety and the most important date to remember. Foods can be eaten (and most can be frozen) up until the ‘use by’ date.
The ‘best before’ date refers to the quality and taste. Following that date, the food will be safe to eat but it will not necessarily be at its best in terms of flavour and texture. You can’t beat looking, smelling, and tasting for a reliable indicator of freshness.
Stop Food Waste – Your fridge, your rules
- First In, First Out: Follow FIFO when unpacking shopping; orgnanise items by the use-by date, moving new products to the back. This way, you’re more likely to use up the older stuff before it expires.
- Consistency: Do items in your fridge have their own spot? This will help to easily recognise when they’re finished.
- Pack it right: Store food in the correct place in the fridge; it’s colder near the bottom so that’s where you should keep perishables like meat and dairy. Some food benefits from being kept at room temperature.
- Check the temperature: Keeping your fridge between 1-5°C helps you get the best from your food. If your fridge doesn’t indicate temperature, try a fridge thermometer.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are a significant contributor to the amount of what is being wasted. In the UK we are wasting 20% of all bough produce. Storage is key to longer shelf life as certain fruit and veg produce gases during ripening that can quicken the ripening process of neighbours in the fruit bowl or veggie drawer.
Use it all: Often by-products of cooking can be turned into something delicious. For example, use bones from meat for stocks and cheese rinds to flavour sauces.
Juice it: Fruit and veg don’t have to be thrown away just because they’ve gone a little soft. If they have gone soft and you are just going to throw them out, put them into a smoothie, and/or a veg soup. Or combine both in tasty juices that are super healthy.
Get creative: Make delicious snacks and even full meals with leftovers you would have ordinarily thrown away. Creating everything from soups to tacos, Burritos to Biryanis.
Portion control: Avoid cooking too much by sticking to recommended serving sizes listed on packaging. If you do over-cook – freeze the leftovers for another day. Trust us, when you think there is no food in and then remember you have something stored, it is a great feeling.
Give away don’t throw away: If there is perfectly good food at risk of the bin, why not ask your neighbour if they’d like it or donate it to a food bank?
Storage is key
Loaf: We throw away 24 slices of bread every single day in the UK. Keep it in a cool dark place for a longer lasting loaf, but never the fridge.
Box clever: Keep your eggs fresher for longer by leaving them in the box, in the fridge.
Hard cheese?: If your cheese is in danger of hardening, grate it, then freeze it and it’ll be good to use in cooking.
Don’t go all mushy: Half an avocado lasts longer in the fridge with the stone in.
Feed your garden: On average over 70% of household waste goes to landfill each year. Composting reduces the amount of rubbish you put out for collection and creates a free, nutritious fertiliser that will help make your garden more beautiful. Compost your kitchen and garden waste.
Give to your local farm. If you live near a farm, farmers often accept organic waste which they can use for fertiliser.
Do you think these pointers are helpful? Will you be trying some of this?