How to reduce food waste to zero!
This week, Small Footprints is taking us to the kitchen where we’re going to reduce our food waste.
Did you know the average person in the UK throws away 1/3 of the food they buy?
While people across the world die from starvation, we are throwing perfectly good food in the bin. It’s a bit immoral don’t you think?
Reducing food waste is one of my particular passions and I pride myself on having very little, if not zero, food waste each week.
Here’s how we achieve that goal and save ourselves an estimated £500 per year.
Meals are served from large serving dishes, rather than put straight onto plates. This means everyone can choose the amount of food they can eat and there is no waste. Anything left in the serving dishes is effectively ‘untouched’ and perfectly safe to be refrigerated and used the following day.
Once a week, usually on a Sunday evening I check the contents of the ‘fridge for anything that needs using up.
I separate the food into three lots; using a different shelf for each:
On the top shelf are things that need using within 48 hours
On the next shelf are fresh fruit and veggies and other things that need using within, say 4 days
On the other shelves are foods which will last longer.
I then check the fruit bowl and vegetable box.
Anything that needs using straight away is put on the kitchen work surface where I can see it.
Are you getting a picture here? Things that need using quickly are on the TOP shelf of the fridge, or right on my kitchen work surface – this avoids the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality that can lead to food waste.
I then make a very loose menu plan. I deeply admire people who can set up a plan for the entire week; but that just doesn’t work for us. Appetites fluctuate, life gets in the way, Little Miss Green’s favourite food suddenly becomes an overnight ‘I can never eat that again’, so you can see why I need a little fluidity with planning.
The ‘menu plan’ is based around the foods that need using imminently.
For example last night Little Miss Green wanted to cook her own tea. She wanted bacon, potatoes, broccoli and carrots.
I took her to the fridge and showed her the ‘use up’ shelf. It contained ham, salad leaves, cucumber, 1/2 red pepper, tablespoon sweetcorn, some cream and some soft cheese.
We agreed that bacon and potatoes would come later in the week but we needed to use up some of the other food first. She ended up making a delicious pasta bake served with a side salad.
If I had agreed to the bacon meal, the ham would have gone off overnight and the cream would probably have been tossed too. By compromising, there was no food waste…
So there we are – with a bit of clever housekeeping you can reduce food waste to virtually zero. Here is a recap of my tips:
- Take a regular food inventory and plan meals around things that need using up
- Keep foods that need using in sight so you don’t forget them
- Use your freezer! It’s a great way to keep little bits of food that you might otherwise throw away. Store them up until you have enough to cook a meal with.
- If it works for you and your family, create a weekly menu plan
- Serve meals from serving dishes so people can take exactly the amount they can eat, then store anything not eaten until the next day
- Ban the word ‘leftovers’ from your vocabulary and replace it with “‘ingredients'”!
What about you – how do you keep food waste to a minimum?