Food Waste and the Rubbish Diet
Food waste…what waste?
In the UK each year, we throw away around 7 million tonnes of food and drink annually from our homes. Recent research has found this includes 86 million chickens, 24 million slices of bread and 1.4 million bananas! In West London, this waste makes up as much as 30% of the content of our bins and it’s worth up to £60 a month to you – so that’s nothing to be sniffed at!
In order to reduce food waste, let’s look at why any food is thrown away in the first place as no one means to do it. The main reasons are:
- It doesn’t get used up before it ‘goes off’ – could be the extras from dinner or it goes mouldy before you remember it’s there!
- Food ‘goes off’ before you expect – there’s some great storage tips to keep food fresher for longer.
- Too much food is prepared or cooked for mealtimes – perhaps not everyone comes to dinner or they want to eat less than usual?
It’s little things like this which result in the average household throwing away, each month, up to £60 worth of food that could have been eaten or as much as £700 a year for a family with children according to WRAP’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign.
So what quick and easy things can you do to reduce waste, slim your bin and importantly save yourself money?
A lot of us will make a shopping list as we know this can help save money – if we stick to the list that is! Did you know that if you plan your meals in advance and then write your shopping list by matching what you’ve already got with what you need to make these meals, you can end up wasting less?
Check your calendar to see who will be eating at home on which days and use our simple, free meal planner to help you get started on your plan . For more reasons to plan check out our make a plan page.
It’s incredibly annoying when you buy something and when you go to use it, find it’s not fit to be eaten. This can happen even if it’s before the date on the packaging – but why? Some foods need to be stored in particular ways to keep them fresh to eat for a bit longer. We all put milk in the fridge as soon as we get home because leaving it out turns it sour, frozen peas get put in the freezer but other things get left in cupboards, fruit bowls and bread bins when some of them need to be kept somewhere else to keep fresh for a few extra days.
When it comes to getting a few more days or even weeks from your food your fridge and freezer are the best storage tool you’ve got. If you keep your fresh vegetables (not potatoes) and fruit (not bananas) in the fridge they will last days longer. Apples will really last an extra 2 weeks in your fridge instead of the fruit bowl. Did you know that you can freeze eggs, cheese, milk and bread? The freezer is also great for storing portions of home-made meals like bolognaise, casseroles and soup, especially if you don’t plan on eating your leftovers within 24 hours.
Serving up the right portions for mealtimes does not have to be an exercise in frustration. If you are left with lots of bits of food on everyone’s plate at the end of a meal then why not simply serve smaller ones or encourage those eating to serve themselves small portions. If they want more, they can go back for a second helping and there is likely to be less overall waste at the end of the meal.
We naturally tend to prepare and cook extra food just in case and this is especially true if you’re having a party as you want to see everyone enjoying themselves. All the restaurants the world over can’t be wrong so why not create a menu for your party or use a meal planner at home so everyone knows what’s for dinner. There are also tools found in most kitchens that can help you measure your ingredients so you don’t prepare too much e.g. mugs and tablespoons. You can also get special items like spaghetti measurers, rice cups and weighing scales. Check out our portion perfect page for more hints and simple tools to help prepare the right amount for you.
If you do have food leftover don’t worry, anything not eaten today can be used tomorrow in another delicious dinner. Our lovely leftovers page has a few ideas for you.
Food waste – what else can I do with it?
There are always going to be things that can’t be eaten – bones, potato peelings and mouldy cheese are just a few of the items you may be left with. It’s not game over for these though as there’s still something good you can do with this food – composting.
If you have space in your garden home composting is a great way to use up things like fruit and vegetable peelings, tea bags, coffee grounds and eggshells. However, cooked food should never be added to your home compost. If these things are added they may not decompose properly and could invite rats and other vermin into your garden. You can buy a compost bin or set up your own one. Recyclenow gives you some ideas about where you can position a compost bin or heap in your garden.
All the councils in West London offer most of their residents a food waste recycling collection service, so why not click on the link for the borough you live in to find out more about what’s available to you – Brent, Ealing, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow and Richmond Upon Thames.
Most food waste that is collected is sent on to companies who specialise in breaking down the contents using heat to create compost. Recyclenow has a short video showing what happens.
If we’ve left you wanting to know more about how the amount of food you throw away can be reduced (and you’ve read the food section on our website) there’s lots more information on Love Food Hate Waste too, you can like and follow them on Facebook and Twitter too.
We give talks to local groups so if you have a space to meet in, we can give you lots of information and personalised advice, just get in touch with us.