It's astonishing how much perfectly edible food gets thrown away.
"In the UK, we throw away 7 million tonnes of food and drink from our homes every year, the majority of which could have been eaten"
Since opting for a zero waste lifestyle, I've become accustomed to reducing my food waste down to virtually zero. It's simple to do and saves me time and money!
Here are some of my top tips for cutting food waste down to a bare minimum...
Freeze ALL of the things!
My freezer is packed to its maximum capacity, but it was much more desolate before I turned zero waste.
I use my freezer for leftovers and purposely make bigger portions in order to have food in for days I don't want to cook. I'll also pop in food that might go off quickly such as homemade bread or if I've ended up with more of something than I anticipated.
I cut up things like peppers and soft fruit and freeze them to add to soups, smoothies or sausages. Herbs also freeze well – they can also be frozen in some olive oil in an ice cube tray.
When vegetables are in season, which I particularly love, (peas and sweetcorn for instance) I'll buy as much as I can fit in my bag, blanch it and freeze to use out of season whenever I want.
If you're a bit of a freezing novice, take a look at some tips on how to use every nook and cranny of that freezer space.
Stock up on dried goods
Keeping basics like oats, lentils and rice in my cupboard means that whatever I happen to get from the market can be made into a healthy, wholesome meal. I live far (like, 'an hour and a half by train' far) from a dried goods, zero waste store. So when I get there, I'm a kid in a candy shop filling up as many tupperwear boxes as I can!
Stocking up on those dried goods means you can also...
Buy less fresh produce, but more frequently
A typical week sees me go to the market once, a standard supermarket once and maybe a deli or whole foods shop if necessary.
Due to the fact that my cupboard is always stocked with dried goods, and my freezer is full of vegetables and leftover meals, I don't need to buy heaps each week. Which is useful seeing as I have no car!
Buying less fresh food means I can keep track on what I've got, and pop to the market or local shop if I need more veggies for an evening meal.
Compost the waste or feed it to a pet (if suitable, and you are allowed!)
Anna and I are both reducetarians , so if meat is present in a meal it's a small part of the meal. When I buy meat, I ensure that I'll use up all of the meat in some way or another, and try to go for lean cuts with no bones. If I do end up with animal waste, this gets frozen and given to my parents when they visit me as they have a food waste bin which takes animal bones – I'm the best daughter, I know!
Eating a highly plant based diet does still mean that we produce waste which needs to be disposed of. And by disposed of I mean made into lovely compost!
I have a lidded pot which sits on my kitchen surface which I put all organic scraps into. I then take it to the compost heap at the end of my garden when it gets full.
I don't have a pet to eat up these scraps, but maybe I will one day!
Love the ugly stuff
Nearly 40% of fruit and vegetables get discarded from supermarkets because they're too ugly! How upsetting is that?
Give a deformed damson a chance, show a little love to a crooked courgette and pick a plain pear.
There are loads of companies that sell on this produce at a cheaper price and some large chain supermarkets have wonky veg boxes for as cheap as £3!
Regrow from scraps
This tip is awesome and one of my favourite ones.
It's really easy to regrow lettuce, spring onions and garlic sprigs from left over scraps. When prepping the original vegetables, you just need to leave about an inch left up from the roots, which you put into a little water and change daily. Within a week or so you will see regrowth and within two weeks, the regrowth of the scrap may be big enough to eat.
And if you fancy yourself as an avid gardener, check out our blog all about how to get started.
After all of these tips, if you still end up will more food than you need, you should consider sharing some of it with the awesome Olio network.
Olio is a free app where you simply take a picture with a small bio about the extra food you have. People local to you will get a notification and can come and collect the food.
These are the things I've found are helpful when trying to cut food waste.
If you want to cut down on the associated plastic and wrapping which comes with the food market, check out this blog!