Is your gran even your gran if she never flashed you and your half-finished plate a disapproving look over the table while trotting out that classic quip?
We’ve probably all had it gently drummed into us since our finger-food days that wasting food is bad.
Weirdly, the message doesn’t seem to have stuck.
In the UK, the equivalent to half the population of London regularly go a whole day without eating. Yet we’re dumping 4.4 million tonnes of avoidable household food waste a year. That’s not including the surplus built into the system because we hold our produce to ridiculous cosmetic standards.
Doesn’t seem right, does it?
If perfectly edible food is binned while people starve isn’t enough to rile you up, perhaps the 19m tonnes of greenhouse gases that waste generates is. Or the fact that, for the average UK household, waste equates to £540 a year.
Yep, food waste really is bad.
But don’t despair! You can make a difference, starting now.
- It’s all in the planning
Meal planning prevents the 5pm ‘what shall I do for dinner?’ conundrum, helps you factor variety into your diet and forms the basis of your shopping list.
- Sharp shopping
Buy only what you need. Stick to your list, which is dictated by your meal plan, minus what you already have in your cupboards.
Shopping more regularly for your fresh produce means it’s less likely to spoil. Ditto buying local, as it hasn’t been sitting in transit as long before it’s even made it to the shop.
Top tip: don’t fall for BOGOF deals unless you needed two anyway. It’s not a deal if it doesn’t get eaten and the environment has to pay.
- Root-to-stem cooking
Look at your food with fresh eyes: what do you throw away as a matter of course that could be used in stock (we’re looking at you, vegetable peelings), pesto (hello herb stalks) and juices (cores, ends, limp veg: get in my juicer!).
Psst. Most vegetables don’t actually need peeling anyway. Many of the nutrients are concentrated right under that skin you’ve been throwing. Just give them a good wash and you’re good to go).
Broccoli stems, carrot leaves and squash seeds all have the potential to upgrade a dish.
Just remember to double-check whether the part of the food in question is edible – rhubarb leaves and tomato stems are a no-no.
- Cold cupboards
Your fridge freezer is your ally in your fight against food waste. Use it wisely, friends.
- Architecture – your fridge is coolest at the bottom, warmer towards the top and warmest in the door sections. Arrange foods accordingly.
- Organise – sorting your fridge once a week will help you keep on top of what’s in there.
- Out of sight – out of mind, so keep leftovers and perishables in easy reach and sight.
- Divide and conquer – Wrap and freeze individual portions of leftovers rather than refrigerating the lot. They’ll last longer and are a bonus when you don’t have time to cook.
- Ice ice baby – Freeze herbs, stock, coconut milk and other perishables in ice cube trays for easy addition to a fresh cooking pot.
- Label – bags/Tupperware with the contents and an eat me date.
- Getting to know food
Different treatments for different foods. Most berries have only got a couple of refrigerated days in them once you get them home (freeze them for smoothies if you’re not going to use them in time!) while onions can last months in a cool, dark, ventilated place.
Top tip: You should be storing bananas alone as they emit ethylene, which causes everything else to ripen faster.
- SOS – Save our stalks
Veg that you chop the end off, e.g. leeks, cabbage, and celery are so easy to propagate yourself. Pop the ends in an inch or so of water and transfer to soil when the leaves start to thicken.
Youtube has lots of demos if you need help.
- Getting to know rubbish
Check your bin out now and again. If you’re chucking lots of leftovers, cook smaller batches. If your soya yoghurt is spoiling before you’ve finished it, buy smaller pots.
Any organic waste leftover (after you’ve turned your life around with our tips) can be composted. Even if you don’t have a garden, your local council can make use of this to fertilise another generation of beautiful or delicious plants.
At Bonsan, we’re all for encouraging a healthy relationship with our planet. Find out more about what makes us tick here.