8 Ways to Stop Food Waste at Home
The scale of food waste is enormous, globally. The UN has made it a priority to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030 to reach Sustainable Development Goal 12: ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
In the UK, around 9.5 million tonnes of food is wasted each year. Over a fifth of food in home kitchens goes in the bin. Much food waste ends up in landfill where it's not easily broken down and creates methane; a potent greenhouse gas.
There are small but effective things we can all do to fight food waste. Here are 8 easy ways to stop food waste at home in your kitchen.
1. Plan meals in advance
Planning your meals is one of the best ways to stop food waste. Spend 30 mins to plan your meals for the week ahead. Look in your fridge to see what needs using up at the start of the week. Think about your weekly commitments to account for how long you'll want to spend cooking and factor in leftover meals. Check out our sustainable recipes for meal plan inspiration; look for the "Freeze Me" tag for big- batch meals that can be frozen for busy evenings.
2. Write a food waste busting grocery list
A grocery list stops food waste by preventing over-buying. And it has the added benefit of managing your food budget! Use your planned meals to check for ingredients you already have in the cupboard, fridge and freezer. Write the exact number or grams of items needed on your grocery list, particularly for fresh produce like fruit and vegetables that go off quickly.
3. Make your freezer a frozen treasure trove
Many meals and ingredients can be frozen to prevent food waste. Freeze garlic, ginger and chillies whole to grate into dishes later. Chop up sad-looking vegetables and herbs and put them in reusable freezer bags or containers. Freeze overripe fruit for smoothie bowls, nice cream, or to mix into porridge. Leftover soups, stews, curries and pasta sauces all freeze beautifully for quick microwave meals when you don't feel like cooking.
4. Organise your fridge
The back of your fridge can be a breeding ground for food waste; I dread to think how many soggy celery sticks and spring onions haven't fulfilled their tasty potential. When you restock your fridge, bring older items from the back to the front to be used first. Place food with Best Before dates approaching sooner towards the door, as a reminder to use these food items first.
5. Get creative with scraps and leftovers
Use your leftovers to create new takes on traditional dishes that fight food waste. Create dishes from parts of fruit and vegetables you might otherwise throwaway, like Banana Peel Bacon and Cauliflower Leaf & Chickpea Curry. Use vegetable peelings and scraps to make vegetable soups and stock (which can be frozen). You could even have a go at creating homemade jams and chutneys with a mix of going-off fruit and veg.
6. Re-grow fruit and vegetables in your windowsill
Stop throwing away scraps and re-grow them in your windowsill. There are a number of common fruit and veg items you can re-grow from the scraps of supermarket buys. Garlic, celery, onions... even strawberries!... can be grown in pots in your windowsill. Invest a small amount in containers and potting soil, and find a sunny window for your veg to flourish in.
7. Share leftovers with a neighbour
Sharing food and leftovers is a community-focused way to stop food waste. If walking up to your neighbour to offer them your leftovers feels a little awkward, download food sharing app OLIO. You can post the food you'd like to share in the app, or browse Requests from people near you. You can even request an ingredient you need to create a sustainable meal.
8. Turn unusable leftovers and food waste into compost
If you've got food waste and leftovers that can't be salvaged, turn them into compost. Food waste that goes to landfill struggles to breakdown and creates methane, a potent greenhouse gas. While composting also produces CO2, the environmental impact is much lower than methane from landfill and you're rewarded with high-quality, nutrient-rich soil. Start your own compost heap, invest in a tabletop composter or join a community composting scheme. Your gone off fruit and veg, coffee grounds, and even compostable packaging, will provide life to new plants and produce.
What food waste-busting techniques are you already using? Have you got any creative leftover recipes to share? Let us know in the comments below 👇