How to reduce food waste in your home
Reducing food waste saves you money. It is estimated that in western countries, around 30% of all food is thrown away each year. According to the UN, nearly 1/2 of all fruit and vegetables produced globally are wasted.
On top of that, according to Project Drawdown, reducing food waste is the 3rd highest ranked solution available for reversing climate change.
Food waste is filling up our landfills, increasing carbon emissions and costing us money.
Here are simple steps you can take to reduce food waste in your home:
1. Have a meal plan
For most of us, the biggest problem to solve in our day is not 'what should I eat for dinner next Thursday?'. So it's understandable that planning meals in advance can fall pretty far down the to-do-list. But having a meal plan will save you money and reduce food waste.
Have a list of your favourite regular meals and make it someone in the family's job to choose which options will be on the menu this week before you go to the supermarket.
2. Have a 'pantry' day
Isn't it time that can of chickpeas from 2014 saw the light of day?
How old is the oldest can in your pantry? We often end up saving non-perishable items for a rainy day that never comes. Rather than leaving them to take up space, try making a meal from whatever is sitting in your pantry the night before you go shopping each week.
Being creative in the kitchen is a fun, safe way to experiment. And who knows, you might create a new family favourite!
3. Only go to the supermarket once per week
This is a tried and tested way to drastically reduce your food bill. Avoid those quick visits on your way home from work by following step 1 and 2. Have a meal plan and if in doubt, you probably have items in your pantry that will make a perfectly fine dinner for tonight.
4. Do your supermarket shopping online
If you want to level up and really take control of your grocery bill, do your shopping online. Avoid all the temptation of the supermarket and save massive amounts of your time. Most online ordering systems let you save your favourite items as a list so you can simply copy your last order and add whatever special items you need this week.
If you don't want to pay for delivery, many supermarkets now offer a 'click and collect' service. This option still saves you time and money since you won't have to walk through the whole shop to find what you want and you won't be tempted by those checkout chocolate shelves.
5. Try a meat-free day once a week
Animal products (milk, meat etc) are usually more perishable than other items in your fridge and are more likely to end up being thrown out. Whereas that can of chickpeas in your pantry will keep for years.
Even vegetables like pumpkin and sweet potato last for weeks if kept properly. Buying a little less meat can save you money. You won't end up throwing out as much and your leftovers will last longer.
6. Buy 6 days worth of food rather than 7
At the start of the week, we often think we are going to be perfect humans who will eat healthy, home-cooked meals every day. We tend to forget that inevitably, we'll be invited out for lunch one day. We'll end up working late another day and buy takeaways. Or the kids will beg us to go out on Saturday night to their favourite restaurant.
As a result, some of the food you bought will end up in the trash. Avoid this by purchasing less food than you think you need. It's likely you will end up having more than enough and if all else fails, revert to tip 2 and have a 'pantry' meal.
7. Start a compost bin
Despite our best intentions, food sometimes goes off before we get to use it. You can still reduce your waste by putting scraps and old produce in a compost bin rather than your trash can. You'll end up throwing out far less rubbish each week, and the resulting compost can be used in your garden if you have one.
If you pay for rubbish collection, this small change could save you serious money over time. Compost bins are easy to maintain and generally won't attract pests as long as you avoid adding meat.
Bonus tip: Buy ugly vegetables
A large amount of food waste happens in the supply chain, long before the produce ends up in your local market. Farmers struggle to sell fruit with blemishes or oddly shaped vegetables. Most of it simply gets thrown away.
Thankfully, some supermarkets are starting to offer 'ugly' vegetables at a discount. Items that would have previously ended up in landfill because they aren't pretty enough, but are perfectly edible and nutritious. We should support these initiatives and encourage supermarkets to go further by purchasing 'ugly' produce when we see them available.
We'll be helping farmers and saving our own money in the process too!