Instinctively, we all know wasting food is wrong. We’re also learning that it’s devastating for the environment, and morally wrong too. But with half of all food waste taking place in the home, and the average UK family throwing away a whopping £700 each year, what can we actually DO about it?
When trying to minimise food waste in my own home, I always try and remember the 5 S’s:
1) SHOP with a plan — It might not sound sexy, but one of the most effective things you can do is plan your weekly meals, then go shopping with that plan. I also recommend having one ‘cupboard meal’ per week; that way if your plans change you won’t waste the fresh food you’ve just bought.
2) STORE your food properly — There are hundreds of food storage tips and tricks. Some of my favourites are that tomatoes should never be kept in the fridge; potatoes and onions should never be stored together; herbs should be kept like flowers in water; and popping a beeswax wrap/tin foil round the top of a bunch of bananas can slow their ripening by days. Another top trick is to make your freezer your friend — it’s not just the obvious like bread and chicken that can be frozen; lots of other things such as milk, eggs and herbs can be too.
3) SERVE smaller portion sizes — There’s a lot of truth in that old childhood saying “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach”. So it’s really important to serve smaller portion sizes if you want to reduce your food waste — a simple hack here is to use smaller plates!
4) SAVE your leftovers — If you’ve made too much food, make sure to save your leftovers for another day. Leftovers can be surprisingly delicious as the flavours tend to develop after marinating for a day or two. Having plenty of storage containers is key to making this one work.
5) SHARE with your neighbours — If all else fails, and you find yourself with spare food you don’t want or need, why not try popping it onto the OLIO app for a neighbour to pick up? Half of all the food is requested in under 21 minutes, and over 18 million portions have been given away so far! Not only does it feel good to share, you could also make a neighbour’s day.
Finally, it would be remiss of me not to talk about food dates, as confusion over date labelling is thought to be responsible for approximately 20% of all food waste. Simply put, the Use By date is a health & safety date, whereas the Best Before date means exactly that: the food is optimal before that date but can be perfectly safe and delicious to eat well after that.
They say that “change begins at home”. Nowhere is this truer than with food waste.