We can all do our part in reducing food waste and helping the environment. Small changes that you can easily implement at home to avoid wasting food can make a real difference in the long run. Reducing the amount of food that you waste is not only good for the planet, but can also allow you to save money. Here are 5 easy ways to reduce food waste at home.
1. Plan and prep your meals in advance
Picture this: you get home after a long day at work, you’re hungry and tired, you don’t feel like cooking, and yet there are vegetables hanging on for dear life in your fridge. In this situation, it’s likely that you would rather order food and just forget about your veggies becauseyou realised – too late – that they’re rotten and the only thing left to do is to throw them away.
We’ve all been there! But that’s where meal planning and prepping can really help.
- Meal planning: All you need to do is plan your meals for the week and write your grocery list based on your planning. No need to buy more food than what you’ll actually eat! Take into account the number of meals you’ll have at home: are you invited to dinner anywhere, do you plan to eat out during the week?
- Meal prepping: Once you have gathered the groceries you’ll need, you can start prepping! How you do it is up to you: you can either prepare the separate ingredients to make the cooking process faster (for example, peel and/or cut your vegetables in advance then store them), cook all of your meals in advance and just reheat them on the day, cook large batches of a recipe (for example, soup) then freezing the portions to be eaten later, etc. Do what works best for you!
If you need inspiration for your meals, check out our Nutrition booklets which contain tips, menus and recipes to help you organise your meals.
2. Shop wisely and don’t overbuy!
Before you leave your home to go grocery shopping, make sure to check your fridge and pantry to see exactly what you need. It can be a good idea to take a picture of it to remember exactly what you have left in there, so that you don’t buy the same products again when you don’t need them. If you’ve planned your meals for the week, make a list of the ingredients you will need and stick to the list! This will help make your shopping quicker, less distracting and you’re less likely to end up wasting food. And don’t go shopping while you’re hungry, because you could be tempted to buy food that you really don’t need. Therefore, have a nutritious snack before you head out to stay focused and satiated during your shopping.
Another general food waste/grocery shopping tip: when you’re shopping for fruits and vegetables, don’t be afraid to go for the “ugly” ducklings on the shelves. These so-called “ugly” fruits and vegetables are identical to the flawless looking ones in terms of taste and nutrition, and yet they often get left behind and wasted. But we have some good news! More and more grocery chains have actually started selling these wonky fruits and vegetables at a discount, to encourage people to choose them and reduce waste. So, if your supermarket offers this, go for it!
3. Store your food properly to maximise its shelf life
Most of the food we throw away at home is due to it rotting. This is particularly true for fresh fruits and vegetables, which have a limited shelf life after you buy them. Fear not, though, because we have some tips to help you keep your food fresh for longer:
- As a rule of thumb, fruits and vegs are stored better in a bag where air can circulate (a paper or cotton bag, for example). This is to ensure moisture will not accumulate and cause spoilage. So, when you buy them, get rid of any plastic packaging and store them where they can breathe!
- Some fruits and vegetables should be stored in the fridge, while others are better kept at room temperature. For example, onions, potatoes, butternuts, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, bananas and persimmons are best stored at room temperature.
- Some fruits and vegetables produce ethylene gas when they’re ripening, causing other produce around them to ripen (and potentially rot) faster too. Try to keep these products away from other fruits and vegetables: bananas, avocados, tomatoes, cantaloupe melons, peaches, pears and green onions.
4. Make the most of your leftovers
Don’t throw out your leftovers! As long as you eat them in the following days after making them, leftovers from your meals can be just as tasty as they were on the day! You can either just reheat them or use them as an ingredient in another meal, for example in soups, sauces, smoothies, etc. You can also freeze your leftovers and consume them later.
Here are a few of our personal favorite examples of how you can reuse some commonly leftover ingredients:
- Pasta: haven’t we all cooked a little too much pasta before? Don’t throw away the leftover pasta, but use it to make a tasty pasta salad for lunch the next day!
- Rice: cooked more rice than you needed? No problem! Leftover rice that was stored in the fridge is great to make a fried rice dish with the following day.
- Overripe bananas: the perfect ingredients for the best tasting banana bread, if you ask us. Check out our banana bread recipe that will also provide you with a good amount of protein!
5. Freeze what you can’t use
Your freezer can become your best friend when it comes to preserving food! You can freeze a lot of different things: leftovers of a meal you have cooked, fresh fruits and vegetables, herbs, bulk meals like soups, etc. Not only does this ensure that you have instant access to food and ready-to-eat homemade meals, it also allows you to save food instead of wasting it. Make sure to store everything in freezable containers and label them so that you know exactly what it is and when you prepared it.
To sum it up…
Small changes and good habits go a long way! With a bit of organisation and planning, you can really make a difference and use up all of the food you buy. Reducing food waste at home is as good for the environment as it is for your budget, so make sure to play your part. Every small step matters!