Food Waste

Zero Waste Lifestyle

If you want to live a Zero Waste lifestyle you should aim to tackle Food Waste as a priority.

How do we define Zero Waste?

The simple answer: The aim is to send nothing to a landfill. Refuse what you don’t want, reduce what you need, reuse as much as you can, send as little as possible to be recycled, and compost whatever you can’t. 

The less simple answer: It’s really about redefining the system. We currently live in a linear economy where we take resources from the earth and then dump them in a giant hole in the ground. The goal of zero waste is to move to a circular economy where we write rubbish out of existence. The circular economy mimics nature in that there is no rubbish in nature.

Instead of discarding resources, we should be aiming to create a system where all resources can be resumed fully back into the system.

Food Waste

Food waste has become such an issue in the UK. It’s hard to believe but more than 8 million families in the UK struggle to put food on the table – and yet, around 10 million tonnes (household and commercial / retail) of food waste ends up in landfills each year.

It has been estimated that the average family in the UK wastes nearly £60 a month by throwing food away.

I remember when I was growing up we always had a Roast dinner on a Sunday which was followed on a Monday with cold meat and bubble and squeak from the leftovers and it was one of my favourite meals.

If we could all reduce our food waste it would not only save us money but also reduce unnecessary packaging waste. If we all make a few minor changes and start using up the food we buy, together we can make a significant difference. 

10 Facts About Food Waste

  1. It’s estimated that 30 – 50% of food produced for human consumption is wasted globally every year.
  2. 25% of the world’s fresh water supply is used to grow food that is never eaten.
  3. Food waste in Europe alone could feed 200 million hungry people
  4. Food waste generates 3.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide, which accelerates global climate change
  5. 20% to 40% of UK fruit and vegetables are rejected by the supermarkets because they don’t reach their high cosmetic standards
  6. The average family in Great Britain wastes nearly £60 a month by throwing away food, in some cases almost an entire meal a day. A family with children waste approximately £700 a year on unused food.
  7. 18 – 20 million tons of food is wasted annually in the UK.
  8. An estimated 20 to 40% of UK fruit and vegetables rejected even before they reach the shops – mostly because they do not match the supermarkets’ excessively strict cosmetic standards.
  9. Most people will admit to cooking or preparing too much food which results in it being wasted. Careful planning would eliminate this risk.
  10. The foods most commonly wasted are fresh produce such as vegetables and salad, and bakery products such as cakes and bread.
food waste
Liz Goodwin explains to the CIWM Journal

10 Simple Ways Cut Down on Food Waste

  1. Plan Ahead – Plan your meals in advance, including how you can use leftovers.  Make a shopping list, I love adding things to my shopping list using my Google Echo. Stick to it when you go shopping.  Why not download my free “Weekly Meal Planner”
  2. Fridge temperature – set your fridge at the correct temperature.  Keep your fridge between 1-5°C – this helps you get the best from your food. If your fridge doesn’t indicate actual temperature, think about investing in a fridge thermometer.
  3. Store Food Correctly – Bread should be kept in a cool dark place like a bread bin or cupboard), bananas, pineapples, potatoes and onions should never be put in the fridge.
  4. Keep your vegetables fresh – Keep the stems of vegetables such as broccoli, celery and asparagus in water to help them stay fresh and crisp.
  5. Freeze fruit and veg – Freeze vegetables fresh fruit and veg that you can’t use in time.  Some fruit and veg will lose their texture when frozen but they will be fine pureed or stewed. 
  6. Revive past-it bread – You can put bread rolls in the oven for a few minutes to crisp up again. You can also make stale bread into breadcrumbs – either mix them with herbs and onions as a stuffing for chicken or to top baked fish or freeze the breadcrumbs for later use. Bread freezes well but place in a freezer bag for better results rather than just freezing it in the packaging it comes in.
  7. Be creative with leftovers – one of my favourite ways to use up leftover vegetables is to make “Bubble and Squeak”.  Or why not make some soup, stilton and broccoli is very easy to make and tastes wonderful.
  8. Over ripe bananas – it’s easy to make banana bread or banana muffins which taste so much better with your almost black bananas.
  9. Learn to Preserve – Good Housekeeping has a great beginners Pickling Guide
  10. Compost – if you do have leftovers that you really can’t do anything with then compost them.  Home composting transforms your kitchen and garden waste as well as small amounts of paper and card into a nutrient rich food for your garden. It’s easy to make and use. All you need to get started is a compost bin and some outdoor space.  If you want to know more about how to compost check this – Home Composting

Food Waste Challenge

Why not set yourself a Food waste Challenge and see how much you can save over the next month and what creative recipes you can come up with for leftovers.  You may even decide to try preserving something.

Remember every little helps.  You can also download a handy meal planner to help you plan ahead.

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11 thoughts on “Zero Waste – Easy Tips to Reduce Food Waste”

  1. Fantastic tips! I hate waste. Seriously hate it. We always use leftovers the next day (or I freeze them). I remember some of my American friends being horrified that I did this but who really wants to throw away food? We also have a container to make compost so anything we do throw away goes in there. I live in Sweden and the Swedes are so conscious of recycling and the environment, so very little does end up in landfills!

    1. We are quite far behind in the UK when it comes to looking after the environment and we still send far too much rubbish to landfills. Thanks for reading.

  2. Great ideas. Food waste is something we’ve gotten under control thanks to pet chickens – they leave nothing uneaten and it saves me buying eggs!

  3. This is something that I always so concious of and often feel very guilty about. I do what I can but sometimes time stops me from being a bit more careful with waste. Great tips thanks

  4. These are great tips. Since moving to Portugal last year we have become better as a family in eating food in a less wasteful way. I still find myself throwing out food if I don’t plan better but our waste has drastically reduced since moving from the UK. Once we move to a bigger house I plan to get even better at it!

  5. I was one of those people that contributed to the waste but now i am managing much better. I always plan my meals and store foods correctly

  6. Great tips! Since we started meal planning we have massively reduced our food waste and I always try and use up anything in the fridge by making soups or purée. I would love a compost heap but I’m pretty sure my kids would end up rolling about in it or something gross!!

  7. We recycle a lot, but I still find that we have way too much waste. I am not sure people are so well educated about it all and it is not a routine they have without thinking about it

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