70% of all the food that’s wasted in the UK is domestic household waste; that’s the equivalent of £700 of food each year for an average family with children. Here are some simple steps we can all take to cut down on the food, and the cash, we waste.
We all do it; it’s so easily done. The opened packet of ham that gets lost at the back of the fridge; the ingredients you buy to cook and then pass over for a last-minute takeaway; the forgotten fruit that goes squidgy and brown. They’re bought with good intentions, but they all end up in the bin.
But the problem is, the little bits we waste here and there can really add up. UK households waste a massive 4.5m tonnes of food a year, worth £14bn; that breaks down to £700 worth of wasted food for an average household with children. So as well as throwing food away, we’re throwing our cash away too.
So what can we do? Quite a lot, as it turns out. Here are some small changes we can all make that will help us use up a bit more and waste a bit less.
These are the foods that are likely to be thrown away. So it’s worth keeping an eye on whether they’re going past their best, and making an extra effort to use them up:
By shifting the way you plan your meals, it’s possible to develop good habits around food waste. It’s really just a case of being mindful about what’s in the fridge. Here are some ideas:
Schedule in a use-up day. One way to avoid wasting food is to designate a day each week as ‘use-up day’. Have a look at what’s lurking in your fridge, and think about how you could turn it into a meal. Combine it with freezer and storecupboard ingredients, and top up with extra shop-bought bits if needed.
Love your leftovers. Instead of throwing dinner leftovers away, plan how and when you could use them:
It’s worth planning when you’ll use these leftovers, rather than bunging them in the freezer and forgetting they’re there. It’s also a good idea to date anything you freeze, and rotate regularly, to avoid losing something useful at the back.
Here are some more smart freezer tips:
It’s worth building up a small but essential range so you can change up the flavours for leftover ingredients. For example:
Here are a couple to get you started:
Mexican fajita spice: 1 tsp smoked paprika, 2 tsp ground cumin, 2 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp dried oregano, and ½ to 1 tsp cayenne pepper/chilli flakes (depending on how hot you want it).
Indian spice mix: 2-3 tsp mild/medium curry powder, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp cinnamon and ½ tsp turmeric.
Use by dates are the important ones; they indicate when the food may no longer be safe to eat, so you shouldn’t eat it after this time. However, best before dates are about quality, not safety. So although the flavour or texture of the ingredient might be less than perfect, the chances are you won’t really notice once it’s part of a meal.
Some dishes are particularly brilliant for leftovers; here are some of our favourites. We’ll add the recipes into our Inspiration section soon.
Finally, if you get into the use-up habit, help us spread the word and inspire others by sharing pictures of your leftover creations on our social media networks. Remember to tag us, and use the hashtag #loveyourleftovers. We can’t wait to see what you come up with.