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7 ways to reduce your food waste

Eating & Drinking
5 minute guide

Georgina Wilson-Powell

18 August 2017

As we all wake up to our global food waste issues and are bombarded with stats (like UK households wasting £13 billion worth of food every year, according to WRAP), the problem can seem insurmountable. But there are lots of small changes you can make at home that mount up. Anna Pitt, author of Leftover Pie: 101 ways to reduce your food waste, shares some easy ways to stop food waste at home.

Shop your cupboards

Open your kitchen cupboards and you might be surprised to see just how much food you already have. The first step in reducing food waste is only to buy what you need and that's much easier when you take an inventory of what you’ve already bought.

Make a list of everything in your cupboards, veg rack and even your freezer, then plan meals around the ingredients you find. When you do need to top up, shops like Bulk Market allow you to buy just the amount you need.

Go gleaning

A third of the food grown on this planet never reaches a human stomach. Much of this waste is created because produce - although perfectly delicious and nutritious - is considered the wrong size, shape or colour by supermarkets. In the UK, the Gleaning Network was set up to combat this waste. It coordinates volunteers to harvest the unsold crops and pass onto charities such as FareShare and FoodCycle who then redistribute to people who need it (and there are other gleaning networks elsewhere).

Chris King Photography 05 Pebble Magazine

Gleaning networks collect fresh produce supermarkets reject and redistribute it to food banks

Chris King

Discover food waste apps

Food sharing apps are growing. These match people with food to give away with people who want it. Imagine you've got food left over after a dinner party or are off on holiday and won't get through everything. Instead of throwing that food away, you can offer it on an app like Olio and someone will come and collect it. Not only do these apps reduced waste but they help rebuild communities too.

There’s also Too Good To Go which connects hungry diners with local restaurants who have food left at the end of the day and want to sell it at a reduced price. At the moment the maximum price is £3.80. 

Practice portion control

While it’s not as high tech as food sharing apps, good old portion control is an easy way to combat food waste at home. It’s always tempting to make more than you need or not be bothered to measure out rice or pasta. Generally a mug of pasta or half a mug of rice per person is sufficient. BUPA recommend that a lean meat portion is the size of a deck of cards. Know your own appetite when you cook and experiment with different amounts. 

Zero Waste Tips Pebble Magazine2

Leftover Pie features 101 easy and tasty recipes that use up food waste

Get your dates right

 Many people throw away food that has reached its best before date, but this can lead to unnecessary waste. The only date you need to adhere to for safety reasons is the use by date. You'll see the use by date on some meat products and ready prepared salads. The best before date is simply a guideline and is not related to safety. All it means is that after that date the food may change colour, taste or texture, but it is perfectly safe to eat. 

Grow your own

Growing your own herbs or vegetables isn’t as daunting as you think. Start small with basil or chillis if you like and get a feel for it. There are plenty of things you can grow with only a windowsill or a small amount of space. Tomatoes don't need much room or you can even grow strawberries in a hanging basket. Growing and tending your own food tends to give you more of an appreciation of the time and effort farmers put into to getting crops to your table - and it saves money. 

Zero Waste Tips Pebble Magazine5

Grow tomato plants and be tucking in with three months

Create some compost

There are clearly some bits of food that you can't, or don't want to eat, such as some vegetable peelings, core, pips or stalks. Composting is a fantastic way to keep food out of landfill and helps you grow plants, herbs or veggies. Invest in a countertop compost bin and a small scale composter or even let some worms do all the hard work with a wormery. If you don't have room to compost at home, some county councils offer food waste collections.

Leftover Pie: 101 ways to reduce your food waste is available on kindle through Amazon now, with a paperback out on 8 September 2017. The book shares 101 recipes from chefs, bloggers and food waste campaigners as well as going into detail about the history of food waste, why we create the waste we do and lots of ideas on how to reduce it. Buy your copy here.

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