Every year, an average UK family throws away about £700 worth of food. Not only is that a waste of money, but it also has a significant environmental impact. Not all of that food biodegrades quickly, and it ends up in landfills, putting undue strain on our waste management systems. Of course, during the festive season, all that food waste only increases—a Unilever report estimated that the equivalent to 74 million mince pies are thrown away every Christmas. That’s clearly wasteful, but the good news is that it’s also avoidable. Here are five things you can do to limit your food waste this season, and through the whole year.
Start from the source and buy less. The number one cause of food waste is over-shopping, so make a list and stick to it. Consider how you can use the same ingredients for multiple recipes, and don’t shop when you’re hungry. Try to pay attention to use-by dates and calculate if you’ll actually be able to consume that item before it expires. If you can carve out time to go on multiple shorter shopping trips rather than one big one, that could help as well.
Consider your guests
Take stock of how many people you’re having over, and don’t make more food than you think they can eat. Also, be sure to be mindful everyone’s dietary restrictions and tailor your menu to that. If you make something that have your guests can’t eat, you will definitely end up with lots of leftovers.
Keep certain scraps
Did you know you can hold on to vegetable waste and make a lovely vegetable stock with it? Also, a lot of scraps are compostable, so if something is too far gone to use, dispose of it that way. Also, track what you throw away and take note of any patterns. If something is showing up a lot on your list, consider avoiding purchasing it in the future.
Organise your fridge and cupboards
When you’ve done a big shop, put it away in an organised manner so you can see exactly what you have. That will limit accidentally buying something twice, and help you use things in the right order. Put newer items at the back so you go through the things that will expire sooner first. Store raw foods at the bottom, and use sealable, reusable containers to keep things fresh.
Donate your leftovers
Even if you’ve done all of the suggested tips above, you still could have leftovers. Try your best to consume them over the days following Christmas, but if you have lots of non-perishable items left, consider donating them to your nearest food bank or homeless shelter. The holidays are a busy time of year for them, as well.
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Written by - Tara MacInnis