All this month as part of our New Year’s Resolution, our team has been learning to love their food. We’ve researched the most common reasons food goes to waste, how to make the most of our food and, when all else fails, how to rot our food
One of the main reasons food ends up in the bin is overbuying. ‘An extra just in case’ or great bargain when purchasing multi-packs… all of these will cost us extra money and cost the planet even more.
Take a snap your fridge before you leave – a “Fridge Shelfie”; this reminds you of your remaining food, and helps you plan your meals better.
Take a shopping list with you; the little note that tracks those need-to-buy groceries. It’s not a bargain if it ends up in the bin! If you won’t eat it in time, leave it on the shelf. Stick to your trusty list.
A spontaneous meal out or takeaway is fun sometimes, but not so much if we neglect the food we have in our cupboards, fridges and freezers. Make food go further.
Our lives are busy and meal prepping was an attractive solution. Preparing double, triple, or even more portions of meals and dividing them into different containers meant we always had ready-made meals on hand. That not only saved time but also encouraged us to eat healthier foods instead of reaching for quick processed snacks, as well as ensured we used up the ingredients we bought.
We turned to the #FlungTogetherFood hashtag for creative recipes on making the most out of what we had in the fridge and were inspired by the Bootstrap Cook, who has plenty of ideas for what to cook with forgotten tins from the back of the cupboard and how to use up fresh items to avoid food waste. Soups are also always a great option to use up veg that are past their best: www.bbcgoodfood.com/search/recipes?query=soup
Storing food correctly can make it last longer. But only half of us know that our fridge should be below 5°C. The average UK fridge temperature is set at 7°C, which is too high for milk and other food items that can perish quickly when not stored at the right temperature. www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/article/chill-fridge-out We checked our fridge settings so milk and other food items could last up to three days longer.
Freezing food we didn’t have time to eat was also important. It’s like hitting the pause button. Lots of people don’t realise it’s safe to freeze food right up to the use-by date, and then defrost in the fridge when you want it. You can freeze almost all foods (except those with a high water content, like lettuce or cucumber)! www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/article/be-freezer-hero
For those times when our food didn’t quite make it to our plates in time, we turned to composting – the art of decomposing organic matter. It’s a highly sustainable way of not only reducing food waste, but also “producing” a valuable addition for gardens and plants.
We tried to demystify the process for those who were new to it by answering some frequently asked questions:
|Collect these materials to start your compost pile right:||Avoid these items for a successful compost pile:|
|Green, nitrogen rich material:
✔ Grass cuttings
✔ Soft prunings
✔ Annual plant and weed remains before they have set seed
✔ Fruit and vegetable scraps
✔ Old cut flowers
✔ Tea bags and coffee grounds
Brown, carbon-rich material:
✔ Cardboard (torn up)
✔ Paper bags and scrunched up paper
|❌ Anything containing meat, oil, fat, or grease
❌ Diseased plant materials
❌ Cooked food
❌ Dog or cat litter
❌ Disposable nappies
❌ Dairy products
❌ Coal ash
❌ Perennial weeds (e.g. bindweed)
A slimy compost heap is usually due to too much of one material such as grass clippings, and not enough air in the heap. To solve this problem, remove the slimy layer and add material such as straw, shredded hedge clippings or crumpled paper. Turn your heap periodically to get more air in. Dry and fibrous compost with little rotting is usually caused by too little moisture and too much brown material. A cold compost heap doesn’t mean it isn’t decomposing, just that the process will take a little longer.
So how did we do? We wrote shopping lists, meal prepped, stored our food better, made soup from leftover veg and tried composting (with a second-hand bin).
A recent WRAP report shows food waste is falling but there is plenty more we can be doing: http://wrap.org.uk/content/food-waste-falls-7-person-three-years
We hope our tEC tips will inspire you to love your food as much as we do.