Nearly a third of the food produced in the world ends up being discarded or thrown away. A huge proportion of this comes from the household food waste generated in our own homes. Reducing your food waste is one of the most effective steps you can take to help fight climate change.
We can all take small steps to stop the problem from getting any bigger. There are many ways to reduce, reuse and recycle our food waste. Even the smallest of changes to the way you shop, cook and even consume food will help reduce your impact on the planet.
Here are our top ten tips to reduce household food waste.
1 Always make a shopping list
Most of us tend to buy much more food than we really need. Check what you already have in the fridge and cupboards and then make a shopping list before going to the shops. This will help you avoid buying unnecessary food and reduce food waste.
2 Make a meal plan
Planning your meals a week in advance is key to reducing your food waste. Sit down before you go shopping and decide what meals you want to make for the week ahead. Write down the missing ingredients on your shopping list. You can be creative and choose recipes that share common ingredients.
3 Avoid buying too much
To avoid buying too much food, make frequent trips to the shops every couple of days rather than doing a bulk shop once a week. Not only will you end up buying less food, you’ll also save money.
4 Learn to understand expiration dates
‘Best before’ and ‘use by’ dates can be misleading. The ‘best before’ refers to the quality and means the food item should generally be perfectly safe to use after that date, whereas the ‘use by’ date refers to safety and means that it is not safe to use, even it smells and looks ok.
5 Freeze extras
Freezing food is a great way to make it last longer and reduce food waste. Most fresh fruit and vegetables keep well when frozen, and it extends their shelf life. You can also freeze foods that you use less often, such as herbs. Some other foods that can be easily frozen include bread, yoghurt, meat, fish, eggs, baked goods, stocks, and cooked leftovers. Food items that have an expiry date should be frozen before they expire.
6 Use your leftovers
If you’ve made too much food, pop it in a lunch box to have the next day, or freeze it for later, and be sure to label it. Find creative ways to use your waste, rather than tossing out food that isn’t fresh. For example, slightly wilted vegetables are great for soups or stir-fries.
A professional chef rule of thumb: First In, First Out (FIFO). When putting your shopping away, rotate older items to the front so they’ll be seen and used first.
8 Store food correctly
Move more perishable products to the front of your cupboard or fridge and new ones to the back; and use airtight containers to keep food that has been opened fresh in the fridge.
9 Check your fridge temperature
By keeping your fridge at the correct temperature, you will help keep your food fresh. The average fridge temperature is set way too high at 7 degrees Celsius, whereas setting it below 5 could extend the life of milk and other perishable items.
10 Compost where you can
Composting leftovers, fruit and vegetable peels and stems, etc is a great way to reuse food scraps, instead of putting the waste into landfill. Even coffee grinds and tea leaves make a great addition to a compost heap. If you don’t have the space for an outdoor composting system, there’s a wide range of countertop composting containers available which makes composting easy and accessible to everyone.