I recently signed up to the bloggers #nowastewithin campaign, to encourage anyone who blogs about food to avoid and prevent food waste when making their creations. I am not a food blogger, but I do post the odd recipe, so I am happy to support this.
Waste of any sort is something that generally irritates me. If I have paid for something I want to get full use of it. I get quite annoyed with myself if I find spoiled and forgotten food lurking at the back of the fridge. We try to be organised enough in our eating habits that we prevent food waste generally. Mr S is quite good at hoovering up leftovers!
We can all prevent food waste
Although the #nowastewithin campaign is aimed at actual food bloggers – who perhaps prepare plates of fabulous food that is lovingly photographed but never eaten – we can all heed the message. There are plenty of actions we can take to try to prevent food waste in our own lives. Doing so can save you money too, so it makes sense to prevent food waste.
Here are some things we do to prevent food waste at Shoestring Cottage.
Do a regular stock take
Go through your cupboards, fridge and freezer regularly to remind yourself of what you have. Then you can make sure you use up the items with the shortest dates on them first.
Plan your meals
Once you know what you already have, you can plan some of these ingredients into your meals. There are a couple of websites that can help you with this, notably SuperCook.com. You can type in an ingredient and get a list of recipes to use that item.
Write a shopping list
There are so many benefits to writing a shopping list. You prevent food waste by only buying items that you need. You also save money and time!
Consider buying loose or frozen fruit and veg
It has taken me ages to realise that I no longer need a family pack of value peppers. The girls are no longer at home! Now I either buy single peppers or, more frequently, a pack of frozen peppers. I can then use just what I need in a particular dish.
Buying loose apples, carrots or whatever is a good idea for a smaller household.
Use your freezer
I wouldn’t be without my freezer. It is so useful for storing leftover food. I keep the following in mine:
Bread ends, either whole for bread pudding or whizzed into breadcrumbs;
Whole loaves of bread – we take out individual slices as we need them to prevent food waste;
Bits of left over mashed potato and cooked vegetables that I chuck into soup or casseroles;
Leftover dinners that make handy ready meals when we are late back from work;
Gluts of fruit and veg we have grown or found in bulk at reduced prices;
Yellow sticker bargains that we can’t use quickly.
Use all of it
When you trim vegetables, use as much as you can. For example, if you don’t like broccoli stalks as a vegetable then save them and the leaves to use in a casserole or in soup. You can also make vegetable stock with all your trimmings and peelings, as explained by Chammy here.
If you are a meat eater, when you roast a chicken save the carcass to make chicken stock. It’s a lovely base for all sorts of dishes.
Only serve what you are going to eat
One of my daughters has a very small appetite. She rarely finishes what is on her plate. When she comes for dinner I often end up throwing her leftovers away, because I serve her too much! Now I let her take what she wants and only what she will eat.
It makes sense to only cook and serve what you know will be eaten.
Find ways to use your leftovers
There are many ways to use up leftovers. With a bit of creativity you can make all kinds of delicious dishes. I have a couple of ideas here and here. The Love Food Hate Waste website has a ton of inspiration too.
Store food correctly
I save glass jars, margarine and ice cream containers to store food, but have also invested in a lot of decent air tight containers. These store leftovers in the fridge or freezer, dry goods in the cupboard, etc.
I make sure loose vegetables are kept in containers to stop them going limp in the fridge. Once opened items such as cheese will also go in a container. Left over bakes beans or tinned tomatoes – in one of my little glass jars in the fridge. This approach will ensure the food lasts a few days at least and is more hygienic too.
Be wary of best before and use by dates
What an absolute load of nonsense most best before dates are! Are you one of those people who chuck perfectly good food in the bin because it has gone past its best before date? Hopefully not, as you are reading this.
Best before dates are just for guidance. They are more for the retailer than the customer, ensuring that older goods are moved to the front of the shelves and sold first. Use your eyes, nose and common sense.
I frequently deliberately buy items that are near or past their best before dates at Approved Food* at huge discounts.
Admittedly, you do need to be more cautious with use by dates. However, a yogurt doesn’t obediently go out of date the minute it reaches midnight on its use by. You can often eat this type of food a couple of days later with no ill effects.
Ilona over at Mean Queen practically lives off yellow sticker items. She buys them on their use by date and is still eating them a few days later! She lives to tell the tale.
Take home leftovers
If you are eating out and can’t manage to eat all the food you have ordered, ask for a doggy bag and take home the leftovers. It might even be worth taking some containers out if you anticipate this might happen. After all you have paid for the food and if you don’t eat it, where is it going to end up? In the bin!
If you have a garden, it is quite easy to make compost from uncooked fruit and vegetable trimmings. Many councils also now collect waste cooked food. This can also be composted but not in your average garden heap. Check out your local facilities and, if your council doesn’t collect food waste, contact them to request that they do. People power!
A useful Facebook group
Zoe over at Eco Thrifty Living has a Facebook group called Reduce Your Food Waste UK. If you are looking for inspiration and ideas, go and join. If you are a blogger who writes about food, check out Zoe’s post for more information.
How do you try to prevent food waste? Share your tips in the comments below.
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