Like many of you, we were heartbroken by some of the footage in David Attenborough’s A Life On Our Planet – his witness statement to the devastating impact humanity has had on nature.
“Live the way you want to live but just don’t waste. Don’t waste electricity, don’t waste paper, don’t waste food.” David Attenborough
Considering that between 33-50% of all food produced globally is never eaten, and 25% of the world’s fresh water supply is used to grow food that is never eaten, food waste seems like a good place to start. A recent study found that households could save an average of £16.50 a week – equivalent to £858 over a year – by reducing their food waste.
Here are our top suggestions for things you can put in place today to cut down the amount of food you’re throwing away.
1. Make a meal plan for the week
start by doing a quick check of what you have left in your fridge and cupboards and build your meal plan based on what you already have. Love Food Hate Waste have a great tool where you can type in the food that you’re trying to use up and they’ll show you lots of recipes for it.
use your meal plan to make a shopping list for the week. The more organised you are, the less likely you are to buy food you end up wasting.
2. Store food properly to keep it fresh for longer.
Take a look at our tips for storing food.
treat ‘best before’ dates as a guideline – these are an indication of food quality, not safety and many foods will still be good to eat after the date on the pack. use your senses to know whether food is still good to eat. ‘Use by’ dates are different – they indicate when a product may no longer be safe to eat and should be followed.
use your freezer to save food that’s past it’s best: brown bananas can be peeled, chopped and frozen to use in smoothies, so can mushy berries. ginger and chillies can be frozen whole and grated into food. blitz stale bread into breadcrumbs and freeze – then use as a crispy topping for pasta, soups and salads, or to coat fish fingers.
3. Root to Fruit
I saw this concept in Ollie Hunter’s book ’30 easy ways to join the food revolution’ (which we love and really recommend). It’s the same theory as nose to tail, where all parts of the animal are used, not just the prime cuts. Root to fruit focusses on using the whole vegetable or fruit – things like carrot tops, celeriac leaves and beetroot stalks are full of flavour and nutrients.
Tomato vines – whizz into tomato soup for an extra hit of tomato
Squash seeds – fry in a little oil and sprinkle with salt for a great snack
carrot tops – great in pesto and stir fry’s
beetroot leaves – good in curries and salads
broccoli stalks – use in soups, stir fry’s and coleslaw
root veg skins – you don’t have to peel these unless they’re really thick and gnarly. they add extra fibre and nutrients to your meals which is great.
Too Good To Go has brilliant tips for eating root to fruit.
4. Think about how you dispose of food waste
Not only are all of the resources that went into creating the uneaten food wasted (land, water, labour, energy, manufacturing, packaging etc), but when food waste goes to landfill, which is where the vast majority of it ends up, it decomposes without access to oxygen and creates methane, which is 23x more deadly than carbon dioxide.
Set up a compost heap in your garden or start a wormery to turn all of your food scraps into compost that you can use in your garden.
There are some great schemes like the Compost Club in East Sussex, which will collect your food waste for a small monthly fee, and transform it into compost, which you’ll then receive an annual delivery of.
Try Olio the app that lets you share surplus food with people in your community, rather than throwing it away. This can be food nearing its sell-by date, spare home-grown vegetables, bread from your baker, or the groceries in your fridge when you go away.