It’s estimated that 40% of all food produced in the world is wasted. That equates to about £750 billion worth of food every year. The reality is, we waste loads of money and resources when it comes to our food production. There are a many ways we can reduce our own personal contribution for the good of our pockets and the planet.
Plan Your Meals
It’s always a good idea to have a list when you’re shopping, but it can be especially important if you know what meals you will make during the week. By checking the supermarket flyers and having everything on hand before heading out of the door, you’ll save time and money in the kitchen. You’ll also be less likely to throw things out that you bought on impulse and didn’t end up using, before the due date.
A freezer is a great way to save all the healthy stuff you get from farmers’ markets or your friend’s garden. You can use if for making several meals at one time, such as stews and soups. This will save you time and money later.
Cook the Right Serving Amounts
If you’re cooking for two, consider cutting the recipe in half to avoid creating leftovers. Foods like pasta and rice absorb a lot of water and swell up, so it’s easy to do too much. You could always have a pudding if you’re still hungry.
Buy the Odd Shaped Vegetables
Supermarkets used to reject odd shaped fruit and vegetables, from the grower. Increasingly they sell it at a reduced price. Why should we care what it looks like? A wonky carrot won’t taste any different to a perfect looking one. Therefore you can do yourself a favour and save some money by buying imperfect looking fruit and vegetables.
Use the Old First
As you put food away, make sure to use the old items before using the new ones. For shelf-stable foods like mayonnaise that are not refrigerated until opening them, keep out of the fridge and consume within a week’s time once opened, so they don’t spoil.
Have a Leftover Day
The idea of a leftovers night is genius. There are so many tasty dishes that you can enjoy just with what’s leftover from the week before. Cooking all those delicious meals at once will give you more time to spend on other things.
Conduct Inventory Regularly
You’ll save money and time by making a list of your favourite dishes, noting what ingredients are needed for each dish. Next, go through the refrigerator or store cupboard so you don’t miss anything!
Before shopping, it might be good to take inventory of all food that’s in your kitchen. If something is missing from this week’s meal plan then you can add it to your shopping list.
Use Scraps Wisely
A good way to reduce your waste is by composting food scraps. If you do not have a garden, there are still options for reducing the amount of rubbish that goes into landfills, like making broth with your leftover vegetable scraps.
There are lots of options such as turning them into compost and using them as fertilizer. Be careful of the type of foods you do compost. Leftover vegetables are fine but some other foods could attract rodents.
A great start on leaving less rubbish at home would be recycling an old pot or bucket so you could use this instead of throwing out aluminum foil, cans and cartons etc, when preparing meals.
Learn Proper Storage Techniques
There is a right way and a wrong place to store each item that you purchase. Get the most use out of what you buy by being informed about how your items should be stored correctly from day one so they don’t get ruined before their time. Learn which vegetables should be refrigerated. Many vegetables sweat and soon start to rot if stored in plastic. It’s best to store them in paper bags.
Preserve Your Own
You might think that cabbage is only for salads and roasts. Have you tried making it into sauerkraut? It is a great way to preserve and make the most of vegetables before they expire! You can preserve, can, or pickle lots of different foods to extend their shelf life and make new and interesting dishes with them.
Eat Food after the ‘Best Before’ Date
Every country has it’s own terms for describing when food should be consumed by. In the UK, the common terms applied are the ‘use by’ and the ‘best before’ dates. The Use By date should be respected as the food is not deemed safe to consume after the printed date. The Best Before date is just and advisory notice, that if consumed after the date, the flavour may not be at its best. However, it is still perfectly safe to it. So you can reduce waste and save money by still eating it.
With a little planning, thought and imagination you can eliminate most food waste. In doing so, you could save yourself a lot of money, with the added satisfaction you’re benefitting the environment too. We’re never too old to learn good money saving principles but they’re best learned at a young age.