Food waste is a larger problem than many of us realise. It’s everywhere you turn, and it’s caused by all of us.
If you think food waste doesn’t affect you, think again. Throwing away edible food doesn’t just waste money. Discarded food is sent to landfills, where it rots and produces methane, a common greenhouse gas, therefore contributing to climate change.
So when you open the fridge door and spy a bag of wilted spinach and a punnet of strawberries on their use-by date, don’t bin them! Here are our top tips for cutting food waste.
1. Get friendlier with your freezer
If you have fruit and vegetables sitting in the fridge that you can’t use in time, think about freezing them. Some fruit and vegetables, such as tomatoes, strawberries and apples, lose their textures when frozen. But you can counter this by pureeing or stewing them before freezing. For example, you could puree strawberries and use them in a smoothie, or stewed apples can be used in a crumble or porridge.
2. Store food properly
A lot of household food waste boils down to food spoilage. Many of us don’t know how to store fruits and vegetables, which causes untimely ripening and mouldy food. For example, onions, garlic, tomatoes and potatoes should never be stored in the fridge. Instead, this produce should be kept at room temperature.
Another brilliant way to cut down food decay is to split up foods that emit more ethylene gas from those that don’t. Ethylene encourages ripening in foods and could cause decay. Food that produce ethylene gas while ripening include avocados, tomatoes, bananas, peaches, pears and cantaloupes. Be sure to separate these foods from ethylene-sensitive foods such as berries, peppers, leafy greens, potatoes and apples to prevent early degeneration.
3. Leave the skins on
Do you often peel the skins off fruits, vegetables and chicken when making dinners? It’s best not to. The outer layers of skins are loaded with nutrients. For instance, apple skins contain lots of vitamins, minerals, powerful antioxidants and fibre.
As for chicken skin, this is crammed with nutrients, vitamins, protein and healthy fats. Even better, chicken skin is an incredible source of the antioxidant selenium, which helps to fight inflammation in the body.
The outer layers of carrots, potatoes, eggplants and cucumbers are also suitable for eating and extremely wholesome. Eating the skin from produce is tasty, thrifty and, more importantly, lessens the amount of food you’re throwing away.
4. Practice portion control
Many of us overindulge. Keeping your portion size under control not only helps with weight management but it also cuts down food waste. Many of use scrape leftovers into the rubbish bin without thinking anything of it, but food waste has a colossal effect on the environment.
Be more mindful of whether you’re hungry enough to eat everything on your plate and make sure your serving size stays within a healthy range. This can all help to decrease food waste.
5. Opt for more frozen foods
While many people prefer fresh produce, plumping for frozen food more often is a way to reduce food waste. Frozen foods often have an extended shelf life and are easier to divide into portions. Thus, there’s less chance of people wasting frozen foods because it’s easier to control portion size – and food obviously lasts longer in the freezer.
Frozen roast potatoes by McCain foods are a good choice. They’re deliciously fluffy and crispy roast potatoes that’ll go well with frozen peas and Yorkshire puddings. And perhaps some beef drenched in gravy!
6. Buy food more regularly
Try to top up fresh produce and other perishables every couple of days instead of buying a week’s worth in one go. By purchasing produce more frequently, it’ll be fresher and you won’t be lured into creating gigantic portions that’ll only be binned later. Opt for quality (fresh, organic, fair trade, unprocessed) instead of quantity. Your dishes will be yummier for it!
7. Donate, donate, donate
Thinking of throwing out the tins of beans or tuna that have been sitting in the cupboard for ages? Take them to a local food bank or a collection point in the supermarket. Better yet, host a collection at your school, church or business for your local food bank.
8. Blitz your leftovers
Didn’t manage to eat that huge packet of spinach earlier in the week? No time to munch the bag of carrots sitting in the fridge? Whizz up leftover fruit and vegetables in a blender and enjoy a healthy breakfast smoothie. Try combining carrots with ginger, spinach and bananas. Or green cabbage, carrots, apples, celery and ginger. They make delicious detox juices.
Take some inspiration from these top tips and keep in mind the simple ways to use up leftovers. Not only will you keep food fresher for longer, but you’ll also save money in the process.