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How big of a problem is food waste?
Food waste is a huge global issue, with implications for both the environment and poverty levels. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation estimates that around 1.3 billion tonnes of food are wasted around the world each year, while WRAP reports that in the UK alone households throw away 6.5 million tonnes of food and drink each year, 4.5 million tonnes of which is perfectly edible.
Wasting food is a huge contributor to climate change, accounting for more greenhouse gas emissions globally than all of the commercial flights we take each year. This is because when we waste food, we also waste the valuable resources that have gone into producing it. And while total food waste in the UK is steadily falling year on year, it’s clear that much more needs to be done to address the issue.
How can we avoid food waste in the home?
Bleak as the statistics are on paper, the good news is that we all have the power to make a difference to the big picture-and it all starts at home. Here are some easy ways you can cut down on what food ends up in your bin, and make big savings on your food bills, too.
Plan your food shopping
While the big weekly shop seems a time-efficient way to keep your cupboards well-stocked, buying less, more often will help you reduce what you end up throwing away-especially when it comes to perishable items. Take stock of what you already have at home before doing your food shop to avoid doubling up, and write a list of what you need and try to stick to it. It’s easy to be tempted by those ‘but one get one free’ offers but it’s a false economy unless you know you’ll use them. And avoid food shopping when you’re hungry! Psychologists have found you’re more likely to impulse buy when you shop on an empty stomach. Planning your shopping like this will also help you save on your food bills, too.
Eating all shapes and sizes
Our desire for good-looking fruit and veg means millions of tonnes of so-called ‘ugly’, wrongly sized or wonky produce that is still perfectly edible never even make it to the shop floor, having been thrown away by farmers or rejected by food retailers.
Luckily attitudes are changing and in recent years retailers have acknowledged the issue. Many major supermarkets now encourage shoppers to shop their ‘ugly veg’ aisle, and there are fruit and veg box subscription companies that build their brand around the fact they include the produce that might otherwise have been wasted in your delivery. Use your consumer power and spend your money on the produce that might not be winning any beauty contests, but will taste just as good.
Plan your meals
One of the most effective ways of reducing how much food you throw away is to plan your meals in advance. Think about what you’re going to eat each day, what you need to buy and how you can use any leftover fresh ingredients before they go off. Making some hearty homemade soup is a great way to use up veg and you can tweak the recipe to work with what you’ve got. And if you’ve got leftover courgettes from making your soup, there’s always a fun wayto use up those pieces that might otherwise sit in the bottom of your fridge
Batch cook and freeze
Doubling up a recipe and cooking multiple portions for your freezer will not only save you time and effort (always a bonus to have a speedy midweek meal ready and waiting for you to warm up at the end of a long day), it means you’re less likely to waste leftover ingredients, such as half used bags of herbs or fresh veg. This Mirepoix is a brilliant one for the fridge, and acts as a great base for soups and stews when you’re short on time.
When cooking for the freezer always ensure food is thoroughly cooled before it’s frozen, and wrapped or bagged securely, or placed in a sealed container.
Storing food correctly
A simple way to cut down on the food waste at home is to check you’re storing your produce correctly and not causing it to go off prematurely.
For foods with a labelled best before date, remember the date will only be accurate if you store the food according to the instructions on the label, be it in a cool dry place or in the fridge.
Fresh items such as potatoes, onions and tomatoes should be kept at room temperature rather than in the fridge, while be careful what sits next to your bananas in the fruit bowl. Bananas emit ethylene gas while ripening which causes other fruit and veg to ripen more quickly. This can be handy however if you have an unripe avocado you want to speed up the ripening of..
Research shows that almost half of the food thrown away by the average household could have been composted. Composting food waste turns it into nutrient rich food for your garden which will improve the soil’s condition and structure and give your plants and flowers a real boost. Veg peelings, fruit peel, strawberry tops and even coffee grounds and egg shells can all go into a compost bin. Then all you need to do is close the lid and wait for nature do its thing.
Check use-by dates
Confusion over the difference between best before and use by dates means a lot of food that could still be eaten gets thrown away. So do you know your ‘best before’ from your ‘use by’?
Essentially the use by date is the one that you need to pay attention to. Usually found on products with a limited shelf life such as meat and dairy products or salad items, the use by date tells you the date after which it’s no longer safe to consume the item. You can extend the life of an item past this date by freezing it (if it can be frozen), as long as you freeze it before the use by date. And a top shopping tip for you; supermarkets tend to put things with longer use by dates at the back of the shelves, so if you’re not planning on consuming a product immediately, have a rummage and check the dates to be sure you can use the item before it expires.
Best before dates mean just that-an item will taste, look and smell its best if consumed before that date. Usually used on tinned, dried and frozen foods, best before dates are purely about quality and have nothing to do with food safety. Often an item will taste just as good after this date, so as long as it looks and smells okay, it should be fine to eat.
Apps that can help with food waste
Using food waste apps are a really easy way that we can all help tackle the issue of food waste with minimum effort, but maximum reward. Just download one of these to help rescue perfectly good food from nearby eateries that’d otherwise be heading to landfill, and as a bonus, get it at a fraction of the price-or even for free. Helping local businesses reduce food waste, saving the environment and getting a cheap meal? It’s win-win all round.
Too Good to Go
Every day food businesses throw away tonnes of fresh food that hasn’t sold in time. Too Good to Go is a genius UK-wide app that enables you to buy and collect a ‘mystery bag’ of quality food from local cafes, restaurants, hotels, shops and supermarkets at knock down prices.
A brilliant community food sharing app where people and businesses can pass on food for free that would otherwise be thrown away-from spare home grown vegetables and groceries from your fridge to bread from the local bakery. Using Olio you can browse local listings and request something you fancy, as well as list items you want to share.
Calling itself a food rescue app, Karmaconnects surplus food from retailers and sells it on to consumers at a discounted rate. It’s super easy to use, just browse by location and see what’s on the menu, from pizzas to pastries, stir fries to rye loaves.
Leftover recipe ideas
Don’t let those odds and ends in your fridge go to waste. Here are a selection of recipes to inspire you to give your leftovers a second chance
Chicken and wild mushroom pie
Turn leftover veg into a whole new meal with this warming winter favourite, or adapt the recipe to use up leftover roast chicken. Sure to go down well with the whole family, anything they don’t eat can be frozen for another day.
A great recipe to use up leftover sweet potatoes , this bright and flavoursome soup is quick and easy to whizz up in your blender attachment, and you can always add in other veg you need to use up. A good one to batch cook and portion up for the freezer.
Made up of just three ingredients, this classic French mixed vegetable base is the building block of so many flavour-filled soups, sauces and stews. Simply dice up your leftover veg using your Chef kitchen machine and pop a stash in your freezer.
Browse our huge range of recipes to reduce your food waste today
There are so many ways you can turn yesterday’s leftovers into delicious new meals, from stir fries and pasta sauces to salads and lunchbox treats. Find hundreds of inspiring recipes which can create with your Kenwood products here.