Reducing food waste in your home is one of the best things you can do to minimize the effect you have on the environment.
It will not only mean that overall less food needs to be produced, reducing the carbon footprint of food manufacturing as well as reducing other negative environmental side-effects of food production, but it would also mean less is going in the bin at the other end, not only better for the environment but better for your bank balance!
Reducing food waste in your home is ridiculously easy yet even some fairly expert environmentalists don’t do all they can. All it actually takes is a bit of planning, organisation and time to learn some new rules.
There are a lot of myths around what can and can’t be frozen, some packaging simply omits information regarding freezing. But if something is about to reach its ‘use by date’ and would otherwise go to waste, check if you can freeze it. Fruit and vegetables are one of the biggest food groups that go to waste in our homes, many of them are perfect for freezing, yet not many people do so. For example:
- Bananas – freeze and use later in baking or smoothies
- Mushrooms – freeze and toss straight into your next stew/sauce or for pizza topping
- Onion – Bought too many? Chop and freeze to save time next time you need them
For a more detailed explanation of freezing fruit and veg check out this video from BBC Good Food: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/technique/how-freeze-fruit-and-vegetables
Double Check the ‘Use by Date’
Big supermarkets err on the side of caution when it comes to best by dates and use by dates, understandably they don’t want to end up making millions of people ill and being held liable. That being said with a little bit of care and knowledge you can safely push some of these dates back and use food that you would have once wasted. Luckily you don’t have to work this out for yourself as expert advice is available online.
One of the best resources available for double-checking your food expiry dates is Eat by Date: http://www.eatbydate.com/
One of the simplest ways to cut down on your food waste is to sit down and plan exactly what you will need for the week or next few days. Despite this many people decide against this approach; they don’t know what they will want to eat over the next few days or they don’t have the time to sit and plan. These reasons are understandable but they can be worked around. Firstly if you plan carefully you don’t have to decide exactly what you will be eating all week, you can simply approximate meals by ensuring you plan for enough portions – so long as you have kitchen cupboard essentials such as oils, spices, pasta, rice and tinned goods you can still be flexible in the meals that you have throughout the week.
Fortunately doing your shopping online now makes it incredibly easy to plan your meals – If you need help planning your shopping then head to your local supermarkets website, they have tools to help you meal plan.
Shop Often and Buy Local
If planning meals really isn’t for you then shopping often may work instead. Shopping often should ensure that you only buy for the next few meals and so ensure little or no waste. Buying locally also has multiple benefits, as well as supporting your local economy you will be buying fresher produce that is probably better for you. Produce from the supermarket aisle has generally been flown half way around the world before it gets to you, this obviously has a fairly significant environmental impact but also means it simply won’t last as long once you get it home. Buying locally and seasonally ensures your produce will last longer so less will go to waste, it will also give you the maximum nutritional benefit compared with mass produced supermarket produce.
Bonus Tip! Keep your potato peelings – wash them, season and oven bake for tasty homemade crisps.
by Valerie S.
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