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Waste Not, Want Not, The Scandalous Amount of Food Waste

Thursday, 10 January 2013
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According to the BBC and The Guardian today, a UK-based report has claimed  that as much as half of the world’s food, amounting to two billion tonnes worth, ends up being thrown away.  This is an appalling waste of resources both from both a nutrition and financial point of view given the current economic climate.  

In our house we waste as little as possible.  Peelings go in to compost, we readily use leftovers for lunches or for dinner the following night.  We only buy what we need and make sure that if we have excess food it is stored correctly and labelled properly then used so that it is not languishing in the freezer, fridge or cupboards.

I was astounded at the amount of food that Food Cycle was able to utilise when I volunteered there on a Saturday morning, which you can read about here.  There was plenty more available but they could not use it all, or transport it all.

Check out website such as Love Food Hate Waste for tips on how to reduce food waste and ways to use up  leftovers. 

My tips for cutting down on food waste

Keep your fridge clean uncluttered. This will mean that there shouldn't be food hidden and forgotten. Put those foods that need using up first at the front of shelves to remind you to eat them.  

Meal Plan.  Plan your meals around what you have on hand and then only buy what you need. This will cut down on waste as you should be able to use up what you have if you have planned well.  I have mentioned my Meal Planning Tips here.

Keep some "Use It All Up" recipes handy.   Smoothies, crumbles, soups and stews are tasty ways to utilise all sorts of ingredients you may have languishing in the fridge, fruit bowl or vegetable drawer. 

Only dish up what you need, control portion sizes.  Why not serve smaller servings then if you eat it all have seconds.  If you serve up too much it will probably be wasted instead of being used as leftovers for another meal.  

Modify your shopping habits.  The potential for food waste begins the second we buy the food.  Don't be taken in by bulk offers on food you may not use all of.  Think to yourself "Will I be able to use this before it goes out of date?" 

Less than perfect food is still fine to use. You can stir-fry wilted greens and they will still taste fine. You can cut a bad spot off fruit or vegetables and still cook the rest.  Please use common sense and  be mindful of food safety though.

Share resources.  If you have too much/many of something why not swap with a friend or if you have cooked too much and cannot store it why not donate it to a friend for their dinner or lunch.  Encourage dinner guests to take leftovers home to use for lunch or another meal.  I regularly take baking to friends, the school staff room and Church to ensure none gets wasted.  I also freeze baking in portions suitable for school lunches so there is no wastage there either.

What are your top tips for cutting down on food waste?


  1. My biggest piece of advice would be to menu plan and then stick to the list when you go shopping. If you know you are going to use it then it won't go waste!
    Also cook mince with added veg, lentils, soya mince and herbs and then freeze this 'mince base' for use later on cottage pie, bolegnese, chilli etc. Make mince go further, is a bit healthier and prefered by my kids to pure mince!

  2. Brilliant tips. I've stopped shopping at Sainsbury's since I think they're the worst supermarket for manipulating customers into buying more goods than they need in order to get what sounds like a decent price.

  3. Hi!
    I have question about baking.I like baking and do it a lot, but my husband say it is not economic, because I use a lot of energy/gas for baking cakes and....What do you think about it?

    1. It much more economical to bake your own and if the argument is that waste gas try planning your baking so that you can cook a few thing together. I bake muffins for packed lunches and put them in the freezer so you could cook them at the same time as a cake/biscuits that are going to be eaten sooner. Takes a bit of planning but worth it, just be careful about combining greasy/meaty foods and bakes goods as you wouldn't want the smells to contaminate each other!

    2. Thanks Louise :) Great minds think alike! I also cook more than one thing at a time and also cook in bulk to freeze which also makes best use of the energy required, both gas/electric and my energy. It is much cheaper to bake your own cakes, bread and cookies as well as better for you because you know what is in them.

  4. I like to plan my leftovers as well as my meal so I can do a little bit more to make an extra meal, such as vegetable chilli with enough left overs to make samosas for lunch bosses or another dinner.

    Also saves time as well as money.

  5. I hate wasting anything, and fully agree with the fridge comment. Whenever Ed puts stuff away it gets lost and I find it several days past its best.

    I love my freezer, so much goes in there, I even have a cheese rind box as they are perfect for flavouring soups!

  6. I was going to say menu planning, too! I think it's a bigger problem, as well, that with less and less gardens the councils haven't really provided the means to compost waste in different ways. At least not here.
    I think it's easy for the press to guilt us into thinking we're the ones wasting all the food when the shops are chucking perfectly good food out instead of putting it to use. There needs to be a legislation change there.


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