Households are responsible for the majority of food waste globally, and roughly two-thirds of this waste is due to not using food before it goes off. We produce enough food to feed every human being on the planet, but one-third of that food ends up being thrown away. Unfortunately, the food waste that does not get composted ends up in a landfill, and the methane released during decomposition contributes considerably to the climate crisis.
Although composting food waste is better than the food ending up in a landfill, it is still much better to use up the food before it gets thrown away. From making sure your fridge is at the correct temperature to storing food items correctly, there are many ways we can extend the lifespan of our food before it goes off.
Reducing our impact
Although the level of food waste is reducing, households in the UK still throw away a shocking 4.5million tonnes of edible food every single year. Small actions can add up to enormous change, so if we all do our bit to reduce our household food waste, we can make a big difference. From content creators like Max La Manna, a chef tackling food waste, to informative resources such as the Love Food Hate Waste website, there is a plethora of information and inspiration at our fingertips. Here are our top tips and simple swaps for reducing your personal food waste.
Firstly, make sure your fridge is at the correct temperature. It should be between 3°C and 5°C.
One of the best ways to prolong the life of ginger root is to chop it into chunks and store it in a bag in the freezer. You can take this one step further and grate the entire thing, then portion into ice cube trays and freeze it. Your future self will thank you!
Similar to the above, if you regularly use red wine in recipes but tend not to finish the opened bottle, you can freeze the leftover in ice cube trays, ready to pop into sauces and stews whilst cooking. You can also freeze lemon juice this way.
Cucumber and carrots
If mushy cucumber and carrots are a regular occurrence, there is a solution. By storing them submerged in jars of water in the fridge, celery can last up to 2 weeks, and carrots could be good for an entire month! Make sure you change the water every few days and use the old water in the garden or to water your houseplants.
You can keep unripe avocados on the counter, but as soon as they ripen, they should go in the fridge to keep them fresh. If you have half an avocado leftover, keep the pip in, place it in an airtight on a bed of chopped red onion, and put it in the fridge. It might sound strange, but onions release an enzyme that prevents the avocado from going brown, and this should keep the avocado fresh for a couple of days. Another thing you can do is submerge the avocado in cold water and store it in the fridge - this should keep it fresh for an extra day.
It couldn't be easier; trim the bottom of the leftover head of lettuce, place it in a bowl or cup with 1/2 inch of water and put it on the windowsill. Change the water every few days and, in a couple of weeks, you should have some small leaves ready to harvest!
Freeze leftover veg for stock
Instead of throwing your vegetable offcuts into the compost, keep a bag of scraps in the freezer. Once you have enough, put the vegetable scraps in a pan on the stove with a splash of oil and sauté for a few minutes. Cover with boiling water and simmer for 45-60 minutes, then strain and freeze. Avoid vegetables in the cabbage family such as brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower as they can make for quite a bitter stock.
- One of the most common mistakes is storing food improperly; Love Food Hate Waste have made it really simple with their Food Storage A-Z.
- Weigh out pasta and rice to ensure you are only cooking what you need.
- A best-before date implies food quality; foods beyond this date can still be safely consumed, though they may not be at their best. Use-by dates are about food safety, and foods beyond this date are unsafe to eat.
- Follow chefs like Max La Manna, who regularly share zero-waste recipes.
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