It is estimated that UK households throw away around £13 billion of food every year. While food waste is a financial issue for many people, it also happens to be an environmental issue too. Much of this waste makes its way to landfills, and the carbon footprint left by food production and distribution is huge.
If you can cut your own food waste, you can help the planet and save yourself some serious money — and here are 10 ways to do it.
1. Create an “eat me now” box
Have you ever become annoyed at someone in your home for eating newer foods before older products? Eating food out of order is one of the main causes of food waste, so stop it from happening by creating an “eat me now” box. Fill the box with everything that is due to go out of date in the coming days, and place in at the very front of your fridge.
2. Cut meat in portions before freezing
Buy meat in bulk if possible, as you’ll get some good discounts. However, if you’re freezing it, don’t freeze the entire batch if you’re not going to use it all at the same time. Instead, divide it into smaller batches.
3. Keep crusts from loaves
A lot of people are guilty of throwing away bread crusts prematurely. However, by throwing them into a bag and storing them in a cool, dry cupboard, you can create your own supply of breadcrumbs for baking, frying or creating crusty coatings for meat.
4. Keep your kitchen as clean as possible
Try to clean as you go in the kitchen, sanitise surfaces after preparing food and follow good hygiene practices. Storing raw meat below cooked products in the fridge is just one example of good kitchen hygiene.
5. Keep old fruit for cleaning
Never throw away old citrus fruit or peel. Instead, put it in a jar, and fill it with white vinegar. Leave it for a couple of weeks, and you have your very own homemade multipurpose cleaner.
6. Freeze rotting bananas
It doesn’t matter if the skins have gone completely black, very few rotting bananas are beyond redemption. Throw your old bananas in a sandwich bag, and freeze them until you’re ready to cook. Old bananas are perfect for baking, or for making fresh ice cream. You can also throw them in a blender to create a tasty smoothie.
7. Freeze old onions
Onions can begin to rot pretty quickly — particularly in warm weather. However, they freeze very well. Cut open your onions, and remove the blackened areas. Chop the rest up, place the pieces in a sandwich bag, and freeze them down. The next time you need chopped onions for a recipe you’re putting together, chuck the onions into the pan straight from the freezer — no need to defrost.
8. Freeze scraps
A few chicken bones or carrot peelings might not look worth saving, but you’d be surprised. Put your scraps into sealable sandwich bags, and freeze them down. These scraps are often very useful for making stock, soup and broths.
9. Devise a weekly menu
Don’t simply wander around the supermarket looking for ideas. Create a menu for the entire week ahead, and devise a shopping list using it. This will help you to budget properly, and stop you from buying things you just aren’t going to consume.
10. Never shop hungry
If your stomach is grumbling as you make your way around the supermarket aisles, the chances are you’re going to make impulse purchases inspired by your hunger. But if you’re well-fed when you hit the supermarket, your mind will be on business — and shopping according to your list and your budget.
Food waste is a growing problem in the UK, but so much of it is needless. With a little planning and out-of-the-box thinking, you’ll be able to drastically reduce the amount of food you throw away every week.