WHAT DID YOU THROW AWAY THIS WEEK?
A few slices of moldy bread?
Some apples with a few brown spots?
A container of yogurt or sour cream that’s past its ‘sell by’ date?
Some veg at the back of the fridge that you forgot you had and looks like a science experiment?
Leftovers that nobody ate?
We’ve all been guilty of it at one time or another. In this day and age and economy, we can’t afford to waste food.
In the US and the UK, we throw away tons of perfectly edible food every year and that amount has to reduced. So how do we cut down on wasting food? There are ways to help us wasting so much; we just need to use our imaginations.
STOP BUYING SO MUCH. How many times are we lured to a big sale sign at the grocery store? Buy One Get One Free! Buy One Get Another Half Price! Three for the Price of Two! We’re all big impulse buyers, grabbing whatever looks good in the market. But that may mean that we buy some gorgeous bok choi but have no clue as to what to do with it! If these offers are for things that you buy all the time and use, then of course, take advantage of it. Sales on non-perishables are probably the best money saver and least food wasting. Unless you’re hosting a dinner party for 12 with a salad starter, don’t by three heads of lettuce just because they’re on sale at 3 for 2.
MAKE A LIST. I keep a pad of paper in the kitchen and jot down things as we run out. It not only saves time making out a whole list before you go shopping, it also helps you know exactly what you need to buy. Just remember to take the list with you!
HIT THE REDUCED TO CLEAR SECTION. Your reduced to clear section is stocked with items that have their last ‘sell by’ date on them, so stores have to get rid of these items, else they get tossed in the trash. Even stores waste a staggering amount of food every month so why not take advantage and get yourself a bargain. We do this often and are sometimes disappointed when we don’t find anything. I’ve picked up punnets of raspberries that were normally £1.50 each for 25p each. We’ve gotten fresh herbs for 5p, mangoes for 25p each. We also get much of our meat and fish from the reduced section. Yes, these items on on their last sale date, but I sort them out when we get home and freeze them. Many times we stumble upon a whole salmon for half price. We cut it up ourselves into serving pieces and freeze them separately. I cook the head and tail and bits in boiling water, then remove them from the water to cool, then pick out all the meat and freeze that to use for fish cakes for another meal. The rest of the carcass gets thrown out back for the birds and seagulls. The whole fish gets used and none of it goes to landfill.
USE UP LEFTOVERS. Chef P never buys his lunch at work, unless he is entertaining clients. When I make dinner, I make enough to feed three: Us two for dinner and one for his lunch the next day. If you have access to a microwave at work, there is nothing wrong with taking your leftover dinner for lunch the next day. You’ll save money and eat something much more healthy than a fast food burger and fries and the food won’t be wasted.
EAT OUT LESS. Eating out can be great but there are so many issues. Firstly, there is the quality. If you want good, healthy food it will cost you more but if you want cheap and cheerful then you are sacrificing your health. Also you rarely have any real choice on portion sizes so you tend to come away from a meal having wasted a lot. If you eat at home you have control over what you get and how much of it you eat. Just because wasted food isn’t going in your bin doesn’t mean you’re not responsible for it.
USE YOUR FREEZER. Most food can be stored in a freezer indefinitely without much loss in taste or quality, so if you think you not going to eat something before it runs out of date, freeze it! Just be sure to regularly review what you have in there because it’s very easy to forget what is stored in it. Keep you bread in the freezer and just take out a few slices at a time and let them thaw. I have many of my bread products in the freezer: bagels, muffins and pita bread. If you don’t want to keep your bread in the freezer, then when it’s starting to go stale, cut up what’s left into cubes, put into a plastic bag and freeze to use later for croutons or stuffing. We keep a list of what is in each freezer (we now have three) so that we know what we have and which freezer it’s in.
EAT YOUR FRUIT AND VEGGIES. Just because an apple has a brown spot or your potatoes are starting to sprout some eyes, doesn’t mean they’re not edible. Just cut off the bad bits and carry on. Bananas gone a bit too ripe? Don’t throw them out – make some banana bread or use in a smoothie.