Reducing Food Waste

About a ⅓ of the world’s food is either lost or wasted every year.  This is the equivalent to 1.3 trillion tonnes of food and to give you some context, that is just under 103 million London double decker buses in weight! With people changing the way they shop, whether that is the shop itself or the way they select foods, we wanted to highlight some ways where you can reduce food waste at home. There is no need for specialist equipment and they can be practiced straight away.

Keeping egg shells: Dry these out and crush them up using a pestle and mortar, food processor or even a spoon. The shells can be used in the garden to provide soil with some key nutrients or as a slug deterrent as they do not like to slide over the sharp edges.

Water used for boiling veg: If you boil your vegetables in water, don’t throw that water away. It is packed full with key nutrients that can be used in gravies or sauces. Food frequently boiled are peas and broccoli which contain vitamin C, B vitamins and minerals such as potassium. 

Vegetable scraps: Firstly, rather than even peeling your vegetables, clean them thoroughly and cook them with the skin on. Keeping the skins on will increase the fibre of the food which helps keep us full for longer, helps reduce cholesterol levels and maintains good bowel health. Also if you can spend a bit of money on a dehydrator, this will be the perfect tool to dry them out. You will be able to use the oven also but it takes a lot longer as the temperature is very low, around 80°C. When they are thoroughly dried out, they can be crushed to make seasonings, stock or added to smoothies for added nutrients. 

Over ripe fruit: If your fruit is too ripe to eat there are a number of things you can do with it. Blend them into smoothies, crust them up and add to ice trays/lolly moulds for a treat in the summer, or make fruit desserts like crumble or jelly is a great way to use the fruits when they don’t look their best. 

Make use of the freezer: Some foods that are not used every day like garlic, ginger, chilli and herbs can be left in the fridge and deteriorate quickly.You can chop them up finely and put them in the freezer or even add them in whole. Even if you freeze them whole, just get them out and grate them into your dishes then put them back in the freezer so they don’t defrost.

Leftovers: Buying more foods than you need is a common problem. You might only use half a tin of beans for breakfast, put the rest in the fridge and forget about them until you find out they have gone off. Why don’t you make more than you need by using the whole tin or pack and save the other portions for tomorrow’s lunch/dinner. There are lots of apps that allow you to create meals around the ingredients that you have in the fridge or even search your ingredients online for a bit of inspiration..

Compost: If you are lucky enough to have a garden, using a composter is a great way to use all of the scraps, egg shells and leftovers if you just want to throw it away. Make a composter out of old pallets or even buy one if you can afford it. Along with food, get all of your grass cuttings, green waste (small twigs, plants, etc) and even shredded paper in there. In time, this will all rot down and you’ll have nutritious compost for your future plants.

In addition to wasting food and convenience, we are using items more for single use, with water bottles being the main culprit of this. Even though companies are trying to make amends, we can still use these items multiple times. 

  • Plastic bottles can be turned into bird feeders by cutting a whole in the middle and attaching it to a tree with string or wire. They can also be used to water your garden by making them into slow release drip feeders by piercing a few holes in the caps, cutting them in half and turning upside down while hanging from branches. Just remember to fill them up when they are empty.
  • Food packages, jars and takeaways containers are just some of the items that we can creatively reuse. We have been keeping food packages to educate children in our lessons. For you, it may be interesting to keep some and use them for English, maths or science lessons by looking at the various parts of the packet. It might even get you making healthier foods if you refer to the traffic lights or nutritional information. If the information starts to fade, initiatives like TerraCycle (https://www.terracycle.com/en-GB/) can reuse these, e.g. making crisps packets into emergency blankets.
  • At home, jars and containers can be used to store that extra bit of sauce you made or keep homemade spice mixes in. You can even use the takeaway containers to start growing seeds in. A good beginner one to start is cress. Place a damp kitchen roll at the bottom and sprinkle the seeds on top. Keep that kitchen roll moist and within a couple of weeks, you can add the cress to your egg sandwiches or sprinkle on salads.