So you’ve become aware of just how big a problem food waste is and want to take steps to tackle it? Hurrah! Considering how significant the issue is, which you can read up on here, plus all the shocking stats that go with it, it’s little wonder that there is a growing movement to combat food waste.
It’s a tough road to navigate particularly when food wasting habits are pretty much ingrained into our society. But to help you on your way i’ve compiled some first steps to take plus some other sites and resources to check out, to use as tools along your waste-free journey.
So first off:
Go through your bin
Have you done it yet? The best way to figure out what you are wasting and your target areas is to see…What you are wasting! And a bin audit is the best way to do that. Yes, it may be smelly and a bit dirty, you may also feel a bit like a street cat as you paw through it looking for food, but hey this is something you really should do! (Just make sure to wear gloves and then take a shower after, ok, if you are really that concerned) Once you know what things are being thrown out you can start tracing back to the reasons it ended up a stinky mess in your bin.
Become a detective
Why was the food thrown out in the first place? Did it go off? Develop mould or go rotten? Was it past the use-by date? Or did you simply forget about it or never really intended to eat it anyway? Again, make an inventory of WHY you chucked the food away, and how it got to that stage. So for example, the tomatoes were thrown out because they had gone squishy. Why did they go squishy? Aha, because they were shoved to the back of the fridge, hiding behind other food, so you kinda forgot about them. Steps to take from here is then making sure you don’t lose them in the fridge!
PREPARE PREPARE PREPARE!
I cannot stress this enough, as this is really the most crucial and important point in combatting food waste. Preparation. You ain’t going to win a fight without a battle plan, and this yes siree, this will become your battle plan. These are your weapons in your arsenal (ok, enough with the battle talk!)
- Check the supplies before you go get more! A.K.A before you go and buy more food, check out your fridge and pantry first to see what you have already got!
- Make a shopping list! Based upon what you have already got at home, because we don’t need doubling up. Make sure you stick to your shopping list at the shops too, don’t impulse buy, as this is more likely to result in food waste.
- Plan out your meals! This is harder said then done, something even I am still yet to perfect, but it is very helpful in allowing you to make sure you use the food you have, even integrating leftovers from one night into lunch the following day! Meal planning is also a time-saver if you are time-poor.
Doggy bags, all the way home…
When eating out and you can’t quite finish off the very last bite of your pad-see-ew, what do you do? Doggy bag it! Ask the waiter to bag it up for you so you can take it home and then eat it for lunch the next day (winning!). Or better yet, bring along your own container to use, avoiding the disposable plastics.
Collect yo’ compost
Organic matter such as fruit and vegetables can be composted, recycling the nutrients they contain back into a fertile material that renews soil and in turn allows more fruit and veg to be grown. Of course not everyone can fit a compost bin into their backyard, but you can get bokashi bins, which are small (odourless!) benchtop composters that you can use. Or in some council areas there are composting programs or community gardens that will gladly take your fruit and veggie scraps. Do a google search to see if there is one near you.
Make friends with your freezer.
This is actually one I stole from Sarah Wilson. Basically it’s all about utilising your freezer to extend the life of your food. Got veggies going limp? Throw them into a bag in the freezer, collecting enough until you can make your own veggie stock. Made too much bolognese? Freeze it in meal sized portions. Aunty Myrtle gave you a bushel of lemons from her lemon tree? Apart from making lemonade, juice them and freeze the juice into portions using an ice-cube tray for later uses in various recipes where it only calls for that 1 or 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Be careful to note though how to properly store different foods in the freezer, no one wants freezer burn!
These are just some simple first steps to take and to use during your battle against food waste. There is actually so many nifty hacks and tips out there on the interwebs and in books offering a plethora of information on saving and being resourceful with food. These are some of my favourites:
Anyone else got some nifty and handy food waste preventing tips that they’d love to share?