The global situation regarding food waste is pretty dire. So much so that estimates from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations say roughly one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year (around 1.3 billion tonnes!) gets lost during the manufacturing process or wasted. The environment is hit hard from the greenhouse gases produced by the waste left rotting in landfill. The ‘developed world’ are by far the worst culprits. Per capita waste by consumers is between 95-115 kg a year in Europe and North America.
But what can we do at home? Reducing food waste is not that hard and can actually save you a few euros in the process. Here are some easy ways to reduce waste that you can start implementing now.
Store Food Correctly
Different foods fare better in different conditions. Most of us know a few basic rules like keeping potatoes in a cool, dark place, but there are plenty more tricks to keep your food fresher for longer so you’re not throwing away stuff that seems to have instantaneously perished. The Foodwise website has some good tips, such as freezing your herbs, or pouring leftover coconut milk into ice cube trays to freeze, then popping them into freezer bags to keep for later.
Get Kitchen Creative
When it gets close to your next food shop you can find yourself left with a bunch of odds and ends in the fridge that seemingly can’t come together as a meal. Instead of dialing for a takeaway delivery, use your phone to download a recipe generating app. There are now some great apps where you can simply enter the ingredients you have, and a list of recipes will pop up that call for what you have on hand.
A Bit of Planning
Before you head off to the supermarket jot down a plan of meals for the week. Figure out what ingredients you need, and then don’t deviate! Impulse buying can result in a lot of waste, not to mention a much heftier bill at the checkout.
Doggy Bag It
People can feel a little embarrassed to ask for a doggy bag, but most establishments are happy to do this for you. If you enjoyed the food and paid for it, why not take the leftovers home and get a second meal out of it?
Use the Whole Food
We’re so used to peeling our veges and throwing away certain parts of the animal when it’s not actually necessary and you can get a lot of nutrition and flavor from the usually discarded bits. For example, grating the broccoli stalk is great in coleslaw, and instead of peeling your carrots leave the skin on, just make sure they’re well washed if not organic.
Portioning food before freezing is a great way to ensure you only defrost what you need. Also, if you know you tend to throw out food such as bread because it goes bad before you get through the loaf, keep half in the freezer.
Don’t Blindly Follow Expiration Dates
Although the ‘use by’ date should be adhered to, ‘best before’ dates are merely an indication of when something could go bad. Use your smarts, and if it looks and smells fine it’s usually perfectly okay to consume.
If fruits and veges are a bit far gone then whack them in smoothies, juices or soups. Overripe bananas are great for banana bread, muffins, or blended into a healthy ice-cream. Learning how to pickle and preserve is a great way to use up older produce too.