Tackling food waste as a family

Wasting food got out of hand. 250,000 tonnes of the food that goes to waste each year is still edible in the UK. Money / energy / waste. Rethinking our relationship with food and not just looking at the price we pay but the energy and resources went into is a good way to appreciate it more before chucking anything edible. 

#1 Batch cooking. Not only saves energy, time and money but it helps food waste. I usually make once a month a veggie sauce with loads of fresh and dry ingredients. Such as courgette / carrot / butternut squash / lentils / beans or chickpeas. One big portion to be served on the day, another into the fridge for next day and the rest into the freezer. We have the same sauce with either pasta / mash or rice and they are always a success. 

#2 Serving the right amount. With some dishes serving too much is never a problem as I just put it back into the fridge, like pasta or rice with sauce. But for example potato waffles or vegan frozen sausages which my boys love I try to be careful and just bake enough at the time I know they will eat. Those are dishes I more likely to chuck if they can’t finish it (or have it myself and call it lunch). 

#3 Storing food the right way so they stay fresh longer. I tent to keep broccoli / asparagus and carrot in a water in a glass jar in the fridge so they stay fresh for longer. Banana and bread out of the fridge. This is an area I need to do more research on as I know there are more tricks. What do you guys do to keep stuff fresh. Let me know! (Don’t you wish that these things were taught at school?) 

#4 Meal planning. Personally I am not the best at it. I know some people create tables which I admire. I try to keep it as fluid as possible due to spontaneous take away nights or leftover dinners. I usually plan 3-4 meals for a week and get ingredients close to the day I cook it. I know I have a huge advantage being a stay-at-home mum with shops 2 mins from my house. 

#5 Not buying into supermarkets 2 for 1 deals. Unless a) they are items we go through on a weekly bases like peanut butter / maple syrup / nut milk / apple juice. b) they will last forever (or almost) coffee / legumes or pasta. Otherwise with fresh food it is best to avoid it in my opinion. So often in the past I had to chuck out items we didn’t get around eating. Loosing money overall and adding to food waste

#6 Eating out. When we head out I never leave without our tupperware. I know that some point we will have something on the go either sitting in a cafe or restaurant or buying something over the counter. So the tupperware is there to refuse packaging or to take home all salvageable food. Our waiter never have to worry about leftover food on our plates when we leave. All leftover goes into our tupperware and gets eating for dinner.

#7 Composting. Unfortunately we don’t have a compost heap (yet) but our council takes all our food scraps which is fantastic. Once collected,it turns into energy and fertiliser. If food waste is not getting recycled and ending up in landfill (usually wrapped in plastic)  it rots there and releases methane, a damaging green house gas. Composting is a huge help to tackle CO2 emission. Worth taking it up with the council if you don’t have the option for it yet. (other option to freeze food scarps and take it to farmers market if you go there weekly – it is likely that some farmers might take it) .

#8 Forget about “used by date”. That is for all plants I buy in plastic which is thankfully not very often. If I end up with plastic covered fresh food I tent to take the wrapping off straight away and just go with my senses. Touch / feel /smell. If all is good, use. Done! No date needed. (if on those rare occasions we use animal products I don’t apply this rule and strictly follow the use by date).

#9 Keeping our fridge and cupboards clean and tidy. Tidiness is not something I can identify our house with expect our fridge. I recently got really anal and sort out our fridge on a weekly and our cupboards on a monthly bases to make sure I see what is in there and what needs using up. It is a huge helps when we have a new recipe lined up and realise half of the ingredients we already have in there.

#10 Donate food we don’t need. Most supermarkets (even our local one) has boxes where we can donate (in date) food to those who are in need. My other favourite way of giving away perfectly edible food we won’t eat is using Olio. An app letting you upload unwanted food for collection. So easy and so helpful to save food ending up on landfills. 

#11 Being creative with leftover. That is my favourite. I love using up leftovers, either cooking it in with a new dish or just serving it as garnish. If the flavour is similar to the new dish I cook, I just add it in. A spinach potatoes leftover into a pumpkin soup. Although the sour turned green but they loved it.  No waste I say!


Do you have good left over tips / recipes even? Would love to hear your tricks. Share below.

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