Tips on Reducing Food Waste

WRAP conducted a survey of over 2000 households in 2007, actually collecting and sorting through their waste bins to see what was thrown away. Their report The Food we Waste tells us:

  • We needlessly throw away nearly a quarter of the food we buy (by cost)
  • worth about 10,200,000,000 every year, or 420 from each household
    • including nearly a third of all bakery goods
    • and nearly half of all the salad that we buy.
  • Growing, processing, and transporting the food we waste is responsible for 15 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year in the UK, equivalent to about 1 in 5 cars on the road

You probably aren't aware how much you throw away because it isn't something you normally even think about. In the survey, even householders who claimed to waste nothing at all usually still did bin a surprising amount, though 40% less than the average.

Here are some tips I picked up from a talk by Marlene Taylor of WRAP at our Making the Most of Food event on 10th October. Perhaps you would like to add some? if so email Nicola.

We prepare too much food so:

  • Get to know your families appetites and measure out portions
    • e.g. about 70g/person rice - find a cup the right size
    • or 100g/person pasta - for spaghetti that is a bunch the size of a 20p coin
    • If you're not sure try the Love Food Hate Waste portion calculator
  • Use leftovers for lunch
  • Cook batches and freeze in portion units
a croissant
 signs falling into a bin
a lettuce

We throw food out that has not been used because it is now too old so:

  • Ignore sell-by and display-until dates - the only one that matters is the use-by date
  • Plan your meals and make a shopping list so you don't buy stuff you have no use for
  • Check what you have in the fridge/freezer already so you don't buy more if you already have some
  • Store fruit in the fridge and only put a few items in the fruit bowl at a time
  • Check your fridge temperature - you can buy thermometers for just a pound or two - it should be less than 5C but often you will find it is higher
  • Use soft tomatoes or wrinkly peppers in a cooked dish such as roasted or in a soup or sauce
  • Refresh tired lettuce by stripping off the outer leaves and wrapping the rest in a damp tea towel in the fridge for a few hours

And here are some storage tips:

  • Did you know ground spices will keep for 2-3 years in an airtight container in the dark? Whole spices can be kept even longer
  • Keep potatoes in a cool (but not frosty) place in a paper sack so they can breath and in the dark. Warmth or light will encourage sprouting.
  • Store broccoli or courgettes in the fridge but upright with the stalk in a dish of water - cut off the scarred end like a flower stalk first.
  • Here is a guide to how long you can store stuff in the freezer safely

There are lots more tips on the Love Food Hate Waste website including recipes for leftovers or food that needs using up. Try Googling leftovers recipes

Hear Transition Cambridge on Radio 209 this Wednesday 25th November from 7.30pm! Jacky Sutton-Adam shares hints and tips for eco-friendly christmas fare

Some turkey leftover recipes here

What to do with your leftover Christmas Cheeseboard 1 Or Christmas Cheeseboard 2

By the way, when you do throw away food, do remember that in Cambridge City all food waste can go in the green bin - including meat and fried food. Composting is better than landfill: though the energy that has gone into preparing and transporting the food is not recovered, at least the nutrients can be recycled.