Make the most of food wherever you eat
It’s estimated that more than 600,000 tonnes of food waste is thrown away each year in the UK hospitality and food service industry – that’s restaurants, pubs, hotels, cafes, staff restaurants etc.
Some of the food is from preparation in the kitchen, but there’s also a lot of food left on plates after we’ve finished eating – food we pay for and then don’t eat. Wherever it comes from it all goes in the bin. Then most of this food goes to landfill where it generates harmful methane gas.
Whether we’re going out for a special occasion, meeting up with family and friends or simply re-fuelling at lunchtime, there are lots of simple ways we can cut down on food waste and get the most from what we’re paying.
Here are five money saving and food waste reducing ideas to get you started. They might seem obvious but it’s amazing how many of us don’t remember to do them or never seem to find the time!
- If you’re not feeling very hungry, don’t force yourself to order a big main meal. Order a starter or ‘light bite’ instead of a main meal. If you’re eating out with someone you know well you could even share a main course and ask for an extra plate!
- Some menus give you a choice over portion size but if a choice isn’t shown – ask your server as they may be able to accommodate you.
- If you’re not sure what’s in a dish – ask! As well as an interesting test of your server’s knowledge it will help you decide if you will really eat what you’re about to order. It’s always frustrating when something arrives in front of you which you don’t like. If you send a meal away it generally ends up being thrown away.
- If there’s one ingredient you don’t want ask if you can swap it or have it removed. See if they can accommodate you wanting salad instead of chips, or swap carrots for a different vegetable (or vice versa) – whatever you prefer. You can also ask not to have something, for example, no baked beans on your full English breakfast or no olives on the pizza.
- Take your leftovers home with you to eat next day. You may get a funny look when you ask but you’ve paid for it so why shouldn’t you! Pizza, sandwiches, cake, fruit, cheese – lots of food can be saved from the bin. If you’re really organised you could take a plastic container with you.
You’re not alone though, we all leave food on our plates when we eat out. A report published in June this year tells us that the main reason for not finishing our meals out is the portion size – though some of us also choose to leave part of the main course to leave space for dessert!
Hear what other people have to say about eating out in this three-minute video from LFHW. They talk about eating in cafes, restaurants and pubs and why not finishing it all concerns them.
What do you do?
We’d love to hear your views about food waste and eating out including let us know where you’ve taken a ‘doggy’ bag home from, how you reduce waste whilst eating out. There are various ways to contact us and you can tweet us @westlondonwaste.
To find out more about ways to save money by enjoying food, at home and eating out, visit lovefoodhatewaste.com
What restaurants are doing to help
In 2012 the Hospitality & Food Service Agreement was launched. A wide variety of companies that supply the food we eat out or serve it to us have signed up – making a public commitment to reduce their food and packaging waste and increase recycling rates.
More than 100 companies are already signed up as signatories including Greggs, McDonald’s, Sodexo, Subway, Travelodge and Youngs.