Food waste is big news at the moment. With costs increasing across the vast majority of our food and more people looking to stretch their income as far as possible, we wanted to help with a few tips on reducing food waste.
How Much of a Problem is Food Waste?
Globally one third of the food produced goes uneaten. We throw away nearly 7 million tonnes of food and drink from our homes in the UK every year, three-quarters of which could have been used.
20-40% of vegetables don't even make it to the marketplace as they don’t meet standards, such as being misshapen, discoloured or outside the standard size. With climate change affecting crop production and pushing up the price of food, reducing our food waste makes sense – for us, and the planet.
Reasons to Reduce Waste
Reducing Food Waste Saves Money
Each year the average UK family throws away around £720 per year of food that could have been eaten. With the increased prices we've seen recently, continuing to throw away food will cost you even more! Food waste isn't just a household problem. Processing food waste within the general waste costs money that could otherwise be used on local services such as social care, libraries and schools.
Reducing Food Waste Helps the Environment
Growing and producing food accounts for 35% of global greenhouse gas emissions. We've become used to being able to eat food that is out of season locally and expanding our tastebuds with international cuisine as food is shipped worldwide to our supermarkets. But, the materials used to produce different foods are becoming more precious, particularly water and transportation, so it's worth saving where you can.
You can calculate your diet's carbon footprint and compare the effects of switching between foods here.
Ways to Reduce Your Food Waste
Plan Your Meals
Planning meals in advance has several benefits. You can reduce waste by incorporating several meals involving an ingredient into your weekly list. This also reduces spending as you avoid throwing half-used items away. Using an app such as Kitche can help you track what you have and what you will likely need to eat soon. You can watch their fantastic demo at our Bexley Eco Festival 2022 here.
Meal planning can also reduce time spent in the kitchen. No more wondering what to eat with dinner due on the table in an hour, so you're more likely to eat healthy meals rather than grab a takeaway or ready meal. Planning what to do with leftovers can significantly help reduce both time and spending.
Don't Over Buy
Make a list and stick to it. Many people find using handheld scanners while shopping or buying online helps keep spending on track and reduces impulse buys. Writing a list beforehand in conjunction with planning your meals is a big help too.
Store Food Correctly
Check your fridge temperature and store food in the correct part of your fridge for longer shelf life. You may even want to store some veg in water to expand its lifespan and freeze what you can't use in time.
Freezing food has many advantages, including having tasty leftovers to be used in another meal, creating ice cubes with chopped herbs to sprinkle whenever you need them and extending the life of bread (including breadcrumbs from leftover stale bread). The list is endless!
Get to know your local small food store. They can often supply super fresh food in the precise amount you want.
Grocers, Butchers, Fishmongers and Refill/Zero Waste stores generally allow you to buy exactly the quantity you want of high-quality food, generally in easier to recycle plastic packaging.
Get Creative With Food You Can't Use
If you can't use or freeze some of your food, get creative with ways to prevent it from being wasted.
The Bexley @Home app can help you find what can be recycled, where and when. 80% of food thrown away in general waste bins could be used, so this is an area where you can quickly make a difference.
Unwanted food can be recycled into compost and used around the borough through the brown food recycling bin or caddy. Alternatively, you could try composting your food at home and using it in your own garden, maybe even to help grow next year's veg.
We'd love to hear more about how you reduce food waste, so share your ideas with us on Facebook or Instagram, and together we can all do our bit.