Five ways to cut food waste
Food waste is a huge problem in New Zealand and around the world. In this country we throw about 120,000 tonnes of food out from our homes each year – that’s about $900 million worth and could feed about 260,000 people, according to WasteMINZ’s Love Food, Hate Waste campaign which started earlier this year. On a global scale, from all sources of waste, this reaches 1.3 billion tonnes of wasted food.
The obvious downside is lack of food for people in need, but there are a whole lot of others. When food is grown and not eaten, it uses up land and water and adds to greenhouse gas emissions. And packaging waste often goes hand in hand with food waste.
Cutting food waste is also good for the economy and reduces the cost of disposing of food.
There are lots of things food producers and businesses can do to reduce what gets wasted, but kiwi householders can also play a big part.
Here are some of the things you and your family can do:
1. Plan ahead
We all know how tempting it is to make impulse purchases at the supermarket when we see something tasty or something that’s on special. But you’re less likely to waste food if you plan what you’ll actually eat during the week and how much. It can help map out the meals you’ll be making and what you’ll need for each one. Why not try an app like Mealboard to plan out your grocery list and keep track of what’s in stock in the cupboards?
2. Use as much as you can
Sometimes our fridges and freezers are full of leftovers that get overlooked when we make freshly cooked food or buy takeaways. And by the time we get out the leftovers, they’re too old to be eaten. Try mixing leftovers into an end of the week meal or combine them with freshly cooked meals.
There are lots of websites with recipes designed for using up leftovers – you can find some on Love Food Hate Waste.
And when you’re preparing produce, try using parts of fruits or vegetables you might usually throw away, like stems, skins and seeds. Often these parts of the produce contain really valuable nutrients. And some stems and skins, along with meat scraps and skins, can be part of a great stock.
3. Store well
Keeping food in the right container and in the fridge or freezer at the right temperature can make all the difference to how long it lasts. Remember not all produce needs to be stored in the fridge – some last longer when they’re stored at room temperature. If you’re wondering where something is best kept in the fridge, check out this useful article from foodrepublic.com. And it’s worth remembering that if you don’t buy more food than you need, you’ll have less to store. Pickling or preserving food is also a great way to give it extended life.
4. Don’t overdo it
Just as buying too much food can make waste more likely, so can cooking and serving too much. Keep portion size in mind when preparing meals and try making use of online portion planners like this one.
5. Share it around
If you find there’s food to be used up, you could make a bigger amount and find friends and family to share a meal with. And there are services to help you donate surplus food – why not give to your local food bank or have a look at Kaibosh.
Do you have helpful tips for cutting food waste? Let us know, we’d love to hear your advice.