While staying hydrated and getting enough nutrients to sustain our bodies, our meals mean more than nourishing.
Food is a part of our culture, tradition and identity. Meals are a central part of marking important happenings in our lives. Good food is something that unites people and helps us create the strongest memories in our lives.
Yet, we’ve somewhat lost appreciation for food. We now live in a world which wastes some 1.3 billion tonnes of food every year.
And while tossing away your leftover dinner seems like no big deal, cutting back on food waste can help the environment and your bank balance too. Here are a few tips to get you started.
1. Get Organised
This may seem obvious, yet, it’s important you think about what you will consume and don’t get carried away with buying food items you don’t need.
The best way to avoid the advertisers’ traps is by creating a meal plan and shopping list before you head out. There are many apps out there which can help you do so. Set budget targets and share your shopping list with your partner or parents.
It’s also a good idea to avoid food shopping when hungry. There’s a good chance you’ll buy more than you can eat to please your hunger. If you have ended up with some impulse buys and don’t think you’ll be able to consume products while they’re still fresh, why not freeze these products or donate them to your local social care centre?
2. Don’t Overcook
Enjoy trying out new recipes and surprising your friends and at each gathering? It’s a great feeling if we can treat our loved ones. But, try being realistic about how much each person can eat.
Trying out a new recipe? Look at the ingredients and think if you will use all the ingredients in this recipe. Can you add it to something else before it goes off? If the answer is ‘no’ consider if the ingredient is crucial to your dish.
Ever tried a new recipe and ended up disliking it? Don’t be afraid to have a trial run for your recipes and make only a small portion to test. This way you can reduce food waste and ensure your family and friends will be pleasantly surprised.
During the Festive season, don’t forget to pack up the leftovers and use it for brunch the next day. Encourage your guests to take some leftovers for their lunch the next day too. Leftovers will make a wonderful sandwich filling.
3. Know your products
A lot of food waste occurs because of incorrect storage of products. Make sure you check the packaging of the product and store it appropriately. Invest in good-quality food containers you can use time and time again to store your products and heat in a microwave when necessary.
Don’t overthink the use-by or the sell-by date shown on the packaging of the product. Studies have shown a large amount of food waste occurs because people don’t check the freshness of the product and throw it away if it’s near or a day past its expiry date.
Remember, if you don’t think you’ll be able to eat something nearing its expiry date you can always preserve it in a freezer. When cooking, use the first-in, first-out method utilised by supermarkets too to reduce the food waste.
Don’t start by cooking the products you have just brought back from the shop. Use something that has been in your fridge for a while. You can also use ripe and overripe fruit for healthy and delicious smoothies or use as a substitute to sugar when making pancakes.
Rethink what parts of your products are edible. For example, when making a beetroot salad, consider if you can also use the greens for a tasty soup.
4. Motivate Yourself and Those Around You
In Western Europe, families throw away an estimated €70 of food each month, it’s an average of €840 a year.
Think of what you’d want to do with this amount of money if you had it. Educate your friends and family on the effect of food waste on our environment and finances.
Start by dedicating a week when you write down all the food items you throw away and the reason for it. This record will help you see if there’s a pattern which will be very useful when creating your meal plan and shopping list.
Before you go shopping take stock and note the products you already have and their expiration date. Cross-check that these products don’t reappear on your shopping list. If they do be critical about the reasons for buying them.
Although it is within your power to influence the quantities of food going to waste, some food waste is unavoidable. Yet, food waste disposed of in a regular trash bin is sent to landfills where it rots and produces dangerous greenhouse gas. Instead, prepare compost and use it in your garden or on your houseplants.
Before you put food waste in compost, be sure to remove stickers or any other non-organic material which in compost would break down and infiltrate in the soil.
Your compost will not only help you grow healthier plants but also help the soil absorb the excess carbon from the atmosphere and tackle climate change.
Did you find this blog useful? Be part of a change and share it with your friends and family now!