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How can I reduce food waste at home?

Wasting less food doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming and can fit easily into a busy lifestyle, as these 10 tips show

UK-based non-governmental organisation WRAP (the Waste and Resources Action Programme) has been instrumental in raising the visibility of sustainable waste management in general, and food waste specifically in the UK.

Campaigns have included ‘Love Food Hate Waste’, which was founded in 2007 to raise awareness of the need to reduce food waste and help people to take action.

It aims to highlight the easy, practical things we can do in the home to waste less, which has benefits for our pocket (a potential saving of £700 a year for a family with children) and the planet.

WRAP’s latest campaign — ‘Keep Crushing It’ — is designed to encourage people to keep up the pre-shop planning, smart storage and creative cooking behaviours many of us adopted during the early stages of the COVID-19 lockdown, as well as explaining the crucial link between wasting food and climate change.

‘Keep Crushing It’ is all about championing simple, quick actions that can fit easily into the busiest of lifestyles. Wasting less food doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming, as the following 10 tips illustrate.

1 Pre-shop planning

Check the cupboard, the fridge and the freezer before you go shopping and make and use a shopping list. If you’re not a list-maker, take a ‘shelfie’ of the cupboard, fridge or freezer with your mobile phone, so you don’t buy what you’ve already got.

2 Smart storage

Unload your shopping quickly and store it in the right place so it stays at its best for longer. WRAP has produced a handy Food Storage A-Z guide.

3 Keep an eye on dates

If you’re not going to use your chicken or mince as planned, you can freeze it right up to the use by date. Your freezer is your friend and can buy you time — or feed you in a flash.

Creative cooking is about having the confidence to fling something from the freezer together with food from the fridge mixed with something from the cupboard. Take a look at WRAP’s inspirational recipe ideas.

4 Cook wisely

Cook the right amount; try ‘root-to-fruit’ (make the most of the whole plant) and ‘nose-to-tail’ (make the most of the whole animal) cooking approaches. Try not to waste resource-intensive foods like meat.

5 Serve sensibly

Serve small portions and come back for seconds, rather than scraping excess food from plates into the bin. Try ‘super serving’ — presenting the food in bowls or pans in the centre of the table which allows each person to take only what they will eat.

We’re also more likely to reuse leftovers from a central bowl than from someone’s plate.

6 Don’t throw leftovers away

Eat, reuse or freeze leftovers. Store them in sealed containers to keep them fresh or keep them in the original packaging if possible, which helps them last longer.

Use them for lunch the next day or create weekly ‘leftover meals’ such as soups, smoothies, omelettes, pancakes, pastas and salads.

Ensuring you keep stocks of store cupboard essentials such as rice, noodles, pasta, tinned tomatoes and seasonings will increase your capacity to use up leftover items.

7 Learn to tell when food goes bad

Use your senses of smell and taste to test products that are past their ‘best before’ date. Even if the quality has reduced to the extent that you don’t want to eat them raw, they may well be fine for cooking with.

8 Grown your own

This helps us to understand where food comes from which, in turn, helps us value it and reduces the likelihood that we will waste it. Micro-greens, sprouts and pea shoots can even be grown indoors over winter (this article from The Guardian explains how: Eat shoots and small leaves).

9 Recycle unavoidable food waste

Composting is a biological treatment that recycles the nutritive value of waste food into material that can be used to grow new food. Composting bins are widely available and don’t take up much space.

10 Share your knowledge and skills

Ask your friends and family to pass on their tips and recipes and offer them yours. Together, we can fight food waste!


© EIT Food
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From Waste to Value: How to Tackle Food Waste

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