How to Reduce Food Waste
Each year in the UK, households produce around 7.1 million tonnes of food waste and – even worse – 5 million tonnes of this is still perfectly edible!. That might seem like a daunting amount, but it’s really easy to do your bit and we’ve put together our top tips on how to reduce food waste to help you on your way.!
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The first thing to note is that there are usually three different dates that you’ll notice on your food.
These are the ‘Best by’, ‘Use by’ and ‘Sell by’ dates and they all mean very different things, but are often misinterpreted!
The sell by date is a guideline for stores and – generally – isn’t relevant to a consumer doing their food shop.
Best by and use by dates are usually where the confusion happens!
If a product has a best by date, then – unlike use by dates – this can generally be taken with a pinch of salt. You can usually still enjoy these items safely after their best by date has passed, but the quality and taste will begin to deteriorate after this point.
A use by date is more rigid and means that you shouldn’t eat the product after this point at all, as it may become harmful and make you ill.
Plan ahead to reduce food waste
We’ve all been there: You’ve forgotten all about that slice of cheese, piece of meat or selection of fresh fruit that looked sooo good when you picked it up in the supermarket last week – and now it’s hiding at the back of your fridge, smelling very suspicious and trying to create new life.
The key to avoiding a lot of household food wastage is to plan ahead!
Make some time to sit down and prepare a proper meal plan that uses up all of the food in your cupboards and fridge that’s coming to the end of its life.
Our Pinch of Nom Food Planner is a great way to plan out your meals and it can also help you to keep track of any ingredients that may be going out of date – perfect if you love food but hate waste!
With this in mind, you should also make sure that your fridge and cupboards are organised properly to avoid food going out of date before you can use it.
Ensure that you’re placing new products at the back and older ones that are approaching their use by dates at the front. If you’ve picked up some items with a shorter shelf life, then prioritise these in your weekly meal plan to ensure that they’re not wasted!
There are loads of different products out there that can help you to keep your kitchen organised including these fridge storage trays or this rackwhich allows newer products to roll down and replace the can you’ve just used.
Reduce food waste by not binning your offcuts!
You might think that vegetable offcuts belong in the bin, but you can use them to make a really tasty vegetable stock that’s perfect to keep in the fridge or freezer, for when you need a little extra flavour hit!
On that note, if you’ve got leftover veg or bits and pieces of ingredients from other dishes, then don’t bin these either!
We’ve got plenty of recipes that are absolutely perfect for using up all of those odds and ends that you might have lying around in your fridge.
Our Campfire Stew and Scotch Broth are fantastic examples of recipes that you can add pretty much any spare veg to and a classic frittata is also a great option.
If you’re using an ingredient like pumpkin or butternut squash, then don’t throw away the seeds. By toasting them up in the oven – either plain or with a mixture of your favourite spices – you can create a delicious snack that’s perfect for enjoying in between meals!
Don’t give up on stale bread
If you’ve got a loaf of bread that’s starting to go stale, then you may be tempted to just chuck it in the bin – no one likes tough, slightly hard bread in their sandwiches after all!
Instead of throwing it away, why not try using stale bread to make breadcrumbs?
Stale bread actually works better than using fresh bread and is a really easy way to reduce your food waste. This is also a great tip if you have someone in your household who hates the crusts.
Just save them all up and whizz them into breadcrumbs to use in a dish like our Chicken Goujons!
Save your leftovers
Recipe made more than you bargained for? Don’t waste it!
Properly stored, you can reduce your food waste by keeping leftovers in the fridge or freezer to enjoy for another meal the next time you don’t really feel like cooking after a long day.
With this in mind, if you’ve got lots of ingredients that are quickly approaching their use by dates, then another good tip is to batch cook.
Lots of recipes like our Bolognese Risotto work really well for batch cooking and can be portioned up and frozen to avoid wasting any ingredients that might otherwise go bad.
If you’re planning to freeze your leftovers or batch cooked recipes, then make sure that you use the right containers. These storage containers with lids are not only freezer safe, but they can also be used in the microwave and the dishwasher.
Bake with overripe bananas
Bananas that are starting to get speckled and brown may not be the most attractive things to look at, but they’re fantastic when used as an ingredient in baking!
Mix them up into overnight oats or baked oats, or why not try our Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips recipe?
The same is true of many different fruits that are starting to become over ripe!
Pies, crumbles, jams, smoothies, sauces, cakes… The possibilities are endless and can help to reduce your food waste as well as making a really tasty treat!
Make compost to reduce your food waste
Unfortunately it’s just not always possible to use up every single item of food waste and composting is a great way to help deal with this.
Many councils around the UK have already introduced a household food waste collection alongside general refuse and recycling bins and this is a great way to start reducing your food waste.
If you’re a keen gardener, then you may want to set up your own bin in the garden instead and use the compost to add extra nutrients into your soil and flowerbeds!
If you’re struggling to come up with inspiration to use up ingredients in your kitchen, then why not check out our Facebook group? Our group members are super supportive and full of fantastic ideas to help you create really tasty, slimming friendly meals from whatever you have lying around in the cupboards!