5 easy ways to reduce food waste
February 5, 2024
Did you know that over 58 million tonnes of food waste is created in the EU each year?* Incredibly, the vast majority of this is waste from individual households buying food that ends up in the bin.** This is a major problem for the planet, but it also means that small changes made by lots of individuals have the power to significantly reduce this number.
So, where do we start? In this blog, we’re delving into what food waste means for the planet and what we can all do to play our part in reducing it.
Food waste is a major global problem for two main reasons
Firstly, producing food that will never be eaten puts unnecessary pressure on the land, water, people and financial resources required to produce the food in the first place. It means that those resources are ultimately being wasted because what they create isn’t being used. On a personal level, it also means that people are spending money on food that they won’t end up eating, which at a time of rising costs puts unnecessary pressure on individuals too.
Secondly, there is a carbon footprint attached to producing that food. A carbon footprint is the measure of the quantity of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds) released as a result of a person’s actions. The release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is driving climate change around the world, so reducing these are key to a healthy planet.
If you think about the food production industry, activities that generate a carbon footprint include growing the plant or raising the animal, harvesting, processing, packaging, transportation and finally the refrigeration of the food in our homes. The good news is that the food we waste contributes to our personal carbon footprint and so can be impacted by making smart, sustainable choices about what we eat and how we think about our food.
Luckily, making small changes can significantly reduce the food waste generated by your home.
Here are our top 5 ways to waste less food:
📋 Make a weekly meal plan – only buying what you need helps keep costs down and makes sure you don’t have any food in the fridge that you won’t be able to use up before it goes off. Who knew something as simple as writing a shopping list before you grocery shop could help reduce food waste!
Pro tip: you could also factor in some batch cooking here to take the pressure off – simply double your recipe and keep half in the fridge for an easy dinner later in the week. Or you could batch cook and freeze half so you always have an emergency meal in reserve that can be heated up quickly.
🍜 Re-using leftovers – the savviest waste reducers are great re-purposers! If you have food left over at the end of a meal, think about how you can finish it off. Our favourite trick is to pack up leftover portions in Tupperware to make an easy lunch for the following day. This is especially handy during the week where quick and easy lunches are key!
You can also add leftovers to other dishes to use them up and make meals go further. Leftover veg is a great addition to stir-fries or soups, baked salmon or roast chicken can be finished off in sandwiches or by making a simple pasta dish with cream and leafy greens, and leftover roast potatoes are brilliant in an omelette the next morning. Even stale bread can be frozen until you have enough to make into bread pudding (we love this one from Life, Love and Sugar). It’s really easy to finish food off consistently when you get creative!
❄️ Freeze leftovers – this is the simplest way to reduce food waste, and guarantees that your cooked meals won’t go off before you have a chance to finish them. Simply portion up your leftover food once your meal is cool and pop in the freezer – just make sure to label your containers so you remember what you’ve frozen!
Pro tip – freezing isn’t just for leftover meals! If you have bananas in your fruit bowl that are turning brown, pop them in your freezer. When you fancy a smoothie or baking banana bread, they’ll be waiting! Vegetables freeze well too – leftover cooked veg, any raw veg you can’t use up in time or any parts of vegetables you don’t need for a recipe (like tough broccoli stalks) can be frozen and used up later in soup.
🧊 Buy frozen – frozen food is a brilliant way to eliminate food waste and save money. Bulk buying frozen fish means you can easily defrost a salmon fillet when you need a simple and delicious dinner, without compromising on the nutritional value of your seafood. We also love keeping bags of frozen berries and vegetables in our freezers – it makes getting our 5 a day really easy and defrosting them takes very little time.
🐟 Use every bit of your food – think strategically about the food that you buy, especially if you’re cooking a big roast or a whole fish. Once you’ve had the initial meal and the leftovers have been frozen, simmer the bones with herbs and diced vegetables to make stock that you can use later. We love using pre-prepared fish stock in our show-stopping Madagascan prawn paella. If you don’t have sufficient bones to make stock after one meal, bones can be frozen too and saved until you have enough.
Pro-tip – even food waste-reducing heroes end up with parts of their food that they can’t use up, like potato peelings or banana skins. If you can, composting these rather than putting them in your regular waste bin is the most sustainable option.