Following on from my 11 tips to reduce plastic waste (11 must be the lucky number), I’m continuing this reducing waste series with food waste. In Ireland alone, over one million tonnes of food goes to waste a year. By following these tips you can reduce your food waste significantly.
1. Stick to a list.
We’ve all gone shopping when starving, and we all know it was a bad idea. When you’re shopping, avoid buying things you’ll end up finding at the back of the fridge a month later by writing a list and sticking to it. That will prevent you buying random bits that you have no need for, and consequently, reducing the amount of food you throw away. It will also save you a few euro, win win!
2. Store Leftovers in the fridge.
If you accidentally make too much food, rather than throwing it out, keep it in the fridge for the next day. I always do this with rice. It doesn’t matter if I weigh it out, I always end up with enough for a family. I’ll keep the rest in a tub in the fridge and add it to my lunch or dinner the next day. It saves time, and is better for your bin. I always use leftover dinner as work lunch for the next day. It’s so nice to have proper lunch at work and saves you having to fork out on lunch.
Did you know there’s a “proper” way to store food in the fridge? Juices and milk should actually be kept up high because they only need to be chilled. The middle of the fridge is coolest so keep your meats and foods that say “refrigerate after opening” here. Fruits and vegetables should be kept at the bottom while the door should be kept for sauces, bottles and food you want to defrost. To see an infographic on it click here.
4. Cook in bulk.
I like to cook meals from scratch. You know what drives me mad though? When you cook a meal and end up only using half each of the ingredients – why can’t you buy individual chilies!! To prevent throwing out excess garlic and other items that you can only buy in large quantities, I’ve started to cook my meals in bulk. Double or triple the recipe to use up all the ingredients you’ve bought and freeze the rest. This works for all meals. It will prevent you throwing out all the additional ingredients you bought and you’ll have a nice meal ready for you the next time you’re too lazy to cook.
5. Put newer food to the back.
When you’re putting away your shopping, always put the newer food to the back and bring anything that was already there into view. This works for the cupboards and fridge. This will hopefully mean you’ll always get to foods before their use-by date. No more finding soggy lettuce at the back of the fridge!
6. Check the fridge regularly.
Once a week you should go through your fridge. See if there’s anything you forgot about or foods that are nearly gone off. Then, plan meals around these foods to use them up. It’s so easy to forget about the fruit and veg at the bottom, we’ve all put our hands in to get something and pulled out a brown squidgy carrot. Check your fridge and don’t let it get to that stage! If you do have loads of veg at the bottom, make a big batch of veg soup to prevent them spoiling. Similarly, you can use up all your fruit by making a smoothie.
7. Monitor what you throw out.
This is such a good way of noticing things you can cut out of your weekly shop. If you always throw out bread, start freezing half a loaf or only buying a half pan. Never finish your milk? Start buying a litre carton instead of a two litre bottle. As you keep monitoring, you will notice trends in what you’re constantly throwing out – meaning you don’t need it in the first place.
9. Keep bananas separate.
A lot of people don’t realise, keeping bananas up close to other fruit makes them go off quicker. Ever notice the side of the orange touching the banana goes moldy first? It’s due to a gas in the bananas which has a ripening effect on other fruit. Keep bananas out of your fruit bowl to extend the life of your fruit.
10. Become a compost King/Queen.
Composting can reduce waste up to 50%. Anything “once living” can be composted, from leftovers, liquids, egg shells, the lot! Even paper and other waste around the house. There are various way you can do it, from just having a heap at the bottom of your garden, to buying a proper compost container.
11. Don’t fall for special offers
This is particularly important when it comes to perishable foods. If perishable goods are half price or two for one, chances are the second one will be past it’s expiry date by the time you get around to eating them. Only buy what you need. Don’t let the special offers trick you into buying stuff you’ll only throw away later.
12. Store food as advised
Don’t have to throw out crackers or biscuits because they’re gone stale. Store foods the way the packet instructs you to. In air tight containers if needs be, if it has to be stored at a particular temperature or in a cool dry place. You’re advised to for a reason.
I hope some of these tips may be new to you, and help you reduce the amount of food you’re throwing away. Click to see the my previous post from this series, 11 tips to reduce plastic waste. If you know someone who complains about throwing away too much food each week, why not share this post with them?
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