We have looked at how and why we produce too much food waste now it's time to look at how to avoid wasting the food we have. Remember the main culprits;
- Not eating all we buy
- Not eating all we cook
- Not eating all we grow
As you read about the underlying causes you may well have identified and been able to act upon some of the ones you recognised in your own daily habits. Ultimately we need to think about how to avoid generating the waste in the first place. Planning is the key to success here. What you choose to buy will be driven by what you choose to eat. If you are serious about reducing your food waste you need to know what food you already have so that you can use it up before it goes bad, you may find you do not need to shop at all for a week or two. Here is the 5 step guide to reducing your food waste.
Be aware of what is in your cupboards, including the refridgerator and freezer, and what needs using up. Check the “use by” and “best before” dates then be guided by your senses to identify whether something is still good to eat. Does it look nice, smell good and if appropriate feel good, only if you get a yes to all these should you taste it. If you are not going to eat it then clear it out and make space for something you will eat, Take this cake! It looks good, it smelled great and it tasted wonderful, why leave it to go stale?
Write a menu for the week. Planning a menu has a number of benefits especially if you include the whole family in the process and encourage the fussy eaters to contribute some of their favourite foods. When you plan what you want to eat you can factor in how to use up any spare portions and use up food that is going to go past its best. Things to consider include;
- A leftovers night to use up odd portions you don’t want to store.
- One or two using up meals, soup, risotto, curry and pasta meals are great for using up extra meat or vegetables that you have left over from a roast etc.
- Using spare portions for hot or cold packed lunches. This will use up leftovers and save you money. If you don’t have access to a microwave at work you could invest in an insulated food container or flask for hot food.
- If you grow your own you will need to consider what produce is going to be available and how to use it in a balanced and interesting way especially if you have a glut.
- Be aware of what is on offer at the supermarket as seasonal food may well be on offer and you could turn this to your advantage.Check out some of the recipes in the "Cook and eat your own food" section, they work for bought food as well as the home grown stuff. It may be a good time to cook up some preserves to make use of any spare seasonal produce.
Write a shopping list using your menu to guide you. A shopping list will help you to;
- Buy what you need to eat not what you think you need.
- Avoid those special offers that will provide food you don’t want.
- Help with portion control. remember those "three for the price of two" offers? If you know how many you need then you know whether to get the second and third.
- Save you money.
Yes, you got it, if you don’t buy it you won’t be able to waste it. I use a list each week and I try not to deviate from it. One word of advice though, double check the menu as you go around the store, you cant cook a cake without the eggs. My lists doesn't always have everything it should have on it!
You have your ingredients, you know what you want to cook, now you need to keep a tight rein on portion control. Portion control at the meal preparation stage means;
- manageable portions at the eating stage and empty plates!
- less waste
- more meals from the food you buy
- buying less food
- saving money
Pack, date and store any extra portions so that you can eat them at a later date. Then go back to step 1.
If you need any extra help with any of this please ask me.