Reducing food waste
Reduce the amount of food you waste with advice, tips and planning.
Did you know?
- 37% of the average household in Worcestershire is food waste
- this costs the authority around £11m in disposal charges in 2015/16
- some of the waste is made up of things like peelings, cores and bones and is unavoidable
- the majority of what we waste is, or once was, perfectly good food
We throw away around 7 million tonnes of food and drink from our homes every year, costing us £12.5bn.
This is equivalent to the average household throwing away six meals a week and equates to nearly £700 a year for the average family with children or £470 a year for the average household. The carbon associated with this avoidable food waste is equivalent to taking one in four cars off UK roads for a year (3).
Surprisingly, research indicates that people don’t think they waste food and that the food they waste doesn’t cost them much. In fact, each of us throws away on average 110kg of food a year.
For hints and tips to help you reduce food waste, save money and for lots of recipes and ideas for using up leftovers, visit the Love Food Hate Waste website.
Plan your shopping and get more for your money
Do you make a list before you go shopping?
You'd be surprised how many of us don't - yet a simple list, on a piece of paper or on your phone will save you time and money.
- Add food to your shopping list as it runs out.
- Think about what meals you are going to cook and buy only for those meals.
- Buy foods that can be used for several dishes such as canned tomatoes, mince, vegetables and salad.
- Look for food with the longest use by date.
- Avoid the 'Buy One Get One Free' promotions unless you can freeze your items, or it is a non-perishable item such as toilet roll.
- Use the portion planner on Love Food Hate Waste so you don't overcook.
- Pasta and rice are the two items regularly overcooked – look out for an event with the Let's Waste Less volunteers and ask for a rice/spaghetti measurer to help you cut down on the amount you cook.
Make your food last longer
Be a freezer hero: Freezing the food you haven’t had time to eat – any time before the date on the label – acts like a pause button, buying you more time to eat the food you've bought. Lots of people don't realise it’s safe to freeze almost any food before the date on the packaging, and then defrost in the fridge when you want it.
Know your dates: Almost half of the 4.4 million tonnes of good food wasted from our homes each year happens because we don’t use it in time, and in one-third of those instances a date label is given as the reason why.
Know your dates: A Use By date on a product is there for food safety reasons. You can eat it right up to the Use By, but not after - even if it looks and smells fine. Best Before, on the other hand, is about quality and food should be safe to eat after the date, but it may no longer be at its best.
Get more from your shopping and use what you buy
Make your food go further
Use the food you spend your money on simple, creative recipes that will help use up your leftovers. Saving you time and money!
Go to Love Food Hate Waste for lots of luscious recipes which you will not believe use leftover food!
The Humble Shopping List
We've all been in the supermarket and gone home with things that were already in the fridge or cupboard. Often things go off before we can eat them and end up in the bin. There is a simple way to cut down on food waste and save money and time into the bargain – the humble shopping list!
We have the following quick tips to help make list-making second nature. Spend a few minutes planning your list before you leave the house, and you’ll navigate the shopping aisles in a much shorter trip:
- Keep a pad and pen in the kitchen - when you’ve got through the last of your favourites such as milk or cheese scribble it down on the list.
- Shopping for specific ingredients with meals in mind and taking a list helps ensure we use what we buy.
- Buying foods that can be used for several different dishes gives us flexibility to create different meals.
- Look for food with the longest use-by date or fresh foods which can be frozen in case you don’t get round to eating them in time.
- Have a quick rummage through the fridge, freezer and store cupboard once a week; it’ll end those evening runs to the local late-night shop for essentials.
- Take a quick photo of your fridge as you leave home in the morning so you can see what's already in there!
- Don't forget you don't have to plan every meal in the week. In fact, just having an idea of what 4-5 meals will be often works best allowing you to be flexible with unexpected leftovers. Identifying a meal from the freezer each week -such as Friday night is Freezer night - means that if your plans change and you're eating out on Friday that meal can happily sit at home on pause waiting till next week!
Plan your meals the 'Love Food Hate Waste' way
Planning at least some of your meals each week can help you save and money
What does planning really mean when it comes to food? Do you know what you’re having for dinner tonight? Tomorrow?
Planning meals ahead can be one of the simplest things you can do to save yourself money - making sure you only buy what you need and use up what you already have.
- Check! The first thing to do is to get into the habit of checking what you already have at home, especially fresh foods like fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, cheese or milk, that can go off over time. Check your store cupboard fridge and freezer.
- Inspire! When you know what food you’ve got, it’s time to think about what you want to make and find new recipes for using up the food you have. There are plenty of recipe ideas here if you’re looking for some inspiration, and you can search by specific foods and ingredients.
- Tip: Label foods that need using first so it’s easy to spot what you’ve got.
- Plan! Some foods will need eating sooner than others, so plan around what needs eating up first. You can save lots of money by planning your meals at least a few days in advance, and up to a whole week ahead.
- Remember, it’s not only dinner or tea - if you plan your lunches at the same time, you can maximise the food you use up, so nothing goes to waste.
- Top Tip: don't plan all 7 days in a week - plans often change, and unexpected leftovers can disrupt everyone's best laid plans. For example, leave one night as freezer night as it can stay safe at home on pause until you need it the following week.
- Top tool: Have a look at our Two-Week Meal Plan for inspiration.
- Make a list! There will always be food you need to buy, and the best way to ensure you buy what you need is to keep a shopping list on the go, adding to it when you of things or run out. 4 in 10 of us take a list to the supermarket - let's make that number bigger
- Tip: Use a mobile phone, post-it notes or scrap paper for making lists, take a photo on your phone of what's in the fridge and cupboards before you dash out the house if you've run out of time
- Don't panic! If it all goes wrong one week - have an unexpected dinner party or picnic for friends to use up the extra food if you've bought too much; bulk out mince with veg or lentils if you don't have enough (no one ever notices); get your portion sizes right so you're not overcooking; or create a mix and match supper from leftovers in the freezer
We don't have to be chefs or domestic gods and goddesses in the kitchen - just doing one thing right can make all the difference from food ending up in the bin along with our cash to food being happily eaten and money staying safely in our pockets.
For more information visit the Love Food Hate Waste website.
More top tips
Storing food in the right way helps keep it fresh and tasty for longer and means less of the food we buy gets wasted. That’s good for the environment and your pocket.
Remember to keep your fridge temperature below 5oC. Research shows that up to 30% of our fridges are too warm, meaning food won’t last as long as it could. Milk goes off much quicker if your fridge is just a few degrees too warm. Using a thermometer is the best way to keep your fridge at the correct temperature.
Keep the right food in the fridge
- Do not put bread in the fridge as it goes stale much quicker. Bread keeps better in a cool dark place such as the bread bin or a store cupboard. Bread does freeze well for use another time.
- The fridge is the ideal place to store most of your fruit and veg, except bananas and pineapples (keep these cool but don’t refrigerate), potatoes and onions (keep them in a cool, dark place).
- Apples last up to two weeks longer in the fridge and peppers up to a week longer.
- Eggs need to be kept at a constant temperature below 20 degrees Celsius and they keep best in their box stored in the fridge.
Wrap food in the fridge
- Remember fresh fruit and veg need to breathe in the fridge so don’t store them in completely sealed containers. Fruit and veg packaging has been designed to help it stay fresh for longer, so don’t take the packaging off until you’re ready to eat the food.
- Once opened, food like cheese and ham keep better if they’re well wrapped by re-closing the pack, wrapping in cling film or foil, or putting it in an air tight container.
- Love Food Hate Waste Potatoes are low in fat, provide lots of vitamins and minerals and if eaten with the skin, are a good source of fibre. Did you know that one medium-sized jacket potato with skin provides more vitamin C than two apples or an average serving of peas. It has even more fibre than either a bowl of bran flakes, three slices of wholemeal bread or four bananas.
- We wasted 730,000 tonnes of potatoes in 2012. Rather than leave your potatoes to grow old and lonely in the back of your cupboard, why not bring them to life and bake them with beans, mash them with sausages or boil them with a pork chop! You can even use your leftover cooked potatoes to make new meals!
- For tips and recipes on how to use your potatoes, please visit the Love Food Hate Waste website.
More top tips:
- If you aren’t going to eat it, remember you can freeze food before the ‘use by’ date. Defrost when you need it and use within 24 hours.
- Make the most of your food by cooling leftovers as quickly as possible after cooking and store them in the fridge. Eat within two days or freeze for another time. See great recipe ideas for making the most of your leftovers at: www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/recipes
- If you’re only using part of a pepper, leave the stem, seeds and membrane intact, the pepper will then keep in the fridge, if you wrap it, much longer than when you remove them.
- If you wash spinach well in cold water, shake off as much water as you can and store in an airtight container in the fridge, it will keep fresh for longer. This also revives old spinach.
- Wrap lettuce, carrots, courgettes etc. in kitchen paper then put them in plastic bags in the salad compartment of the fridge. The paper stops the condensation from softening the veg and stops mould, they will stay fresh for much longer.
Find many more tips on the Love Food Hate Waste website.