Food Waste 12 Tips to prevent food waste at home.

Wasted food (Courtesy of Wrap UK)

Issues related to food waste

Food waste is not only bad for your pocket but it is very bad for the environment due to greenhouse gas emissions when the food ends up in landfill.  Wasting food is also a waste of precious resources such as water, energy and soil nutrients that go into producing that food.  

It is estimated that a third of all food produced globally goes to waste.  This food is worth billions of dollars.  In UK, food wasted once it leaves the farm is estimated to be worth £19 billion a year and contributes to 25 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

In the UK for instance, it is estimated that 70% of all food waste outside the farm happens at home according to Wrap.  The value of the average household food waste is estimated to be £500 per year. It could be more in some households.

Food waste from the dinner plate (Courtesy of The

Tips to prevent food waste at home

  1. Shop smart buying only what you need.  Don’t overstock on perishables such as fresh meat, dairy, fresh fruit and veg.  Fresh fruit such as bananas, avocados, berries and other soft fruits spoil quickly.  Pay close attention to the durability code or expiry dates on products and consider if you will manage to use the food before the use by date.
  2. Plan your meals.  Prepare amounts that you know will be consumed.  If you are not sure your family will like a particular food, start small. Prepare a small amount as a taster and if your family likes it, prepare more next time.  Planning your meals will also help you shop smart.
  3. Store food appropriately.  Fruit bowls adorning a dining tables are beautiful.  The problem is, the fruits ripen too fast and are likely to spoil and end up in the bin.  Store fruits in the fridge, they can keep for weeks especially apples and pears.  Grapes also keep better in the fridge.  If you keep your fruits on the table so that they are handy and for a prompt to eat, keeping the fruits already washed in the fridge and taking out portions helps.   Store potatoes away from light not to form toxic compounds (greening).
  4. Love your freezer.  Freezing left overs is one way to prevent food going to waste.  This also provides your favourite meals at a later date without you having to spend time preparing them.  Freeze in small portions so that you only defrost what you need, when you need it.  I batch cook for the week usually on Saturday or Sunday.  I monitor the food usage and if by Wednesday, it looks like the food is a lot, I normally store some in the freezer.  These left overs always come in handy when I don’t have time to cook.  If you have too many greens or herbs, clean them, chop them up and store them in the freezer for future use.
  5. Understand date code labels.  If the product shows “use by” on the label, that should be consumed by that day as it may not be safe to be eaten beyond that date.  “Best before” dates are a different story.  Best before dates tell you that beyond that date, the product may not have optimum quality but it will still be good to eat.  Best before dates apply to long life products such as flour, pasta, pulses, confectionery, etc.  These products can be consumed months after their best before date.  Potatoes, onions, apples also come with a best before date.  Use your discretion and check that the product is not mouldy or contaminated in any way. If produce looks good beyond the best before, you can use it.  To be honest, for all unprocessed produce, I ignore the best before dates.
  6. Keep your fridge and food cupboards clutter free so that you know what you have in there.  A well organised fridge also facilitates practicing the rule of “first in, first out”.  One way of managing the rule of first in first out is, whenever you stock up, check your fridge and pantry and move older stock to the front and keep the newly bought products further into the fridge or cupboard.
  7. Get creative and combine ingredients.  Incorporate ingredients that would have been wasted in other meals.  Leftovers can also be used to create other meals, e.g. using left-over meat in pies, pasta dishes, curries, soups, etc.  Vegetables can be used in bakes and pies.  I recently made a veggie bakes with leftover root vegetables, peppers, aubergines, and a lone can of mixed beans that was in my cupboard.  I topped the bake with some leftover crème fraiche I had in the fridge.  Use the stalks or vegetable ends for stock.  Wilted veg and fresh herbs can be blended into a pesto. Potato skins, squash and pumpkin seeds can be toasted for snacking.  Apple peels can be made into jams, cherry stalks into herbal tea, pineapple peels into tea and juice. If you have bananas going old, make banana bread, mash the bananas and incorporate them into pancakes, flatbreads or breakfast shakes.  If you have apples that are going old, you can poach them.  You can make fruit compote from your fruits and preserve them.  For inspiration, the internet has a wealth of ideas.  Check out sites such as Pinterest or YouTube.
  8. Serve small portions onto plates and go for second helpings if needed. This prevents waste from the dinner plate. This is a good habit to instill in children.
  9. Blend fruits especially the ones going soft into smoothies or shakes.  You could also incorporate herbs and green leafy vegetables too.
  10. Don’t be hung up on perfect fruits and vegetables.  The wonky and misshapen vegetables are as nutritious as the perfectly sized fruit and vegetables.  Consumer demand for perfect produce is one of the contributors to farm food waste.
  11. Compost all food waste or send to anaerobic digestion plants, send no food to landfill. The last resort, all food waste including inedible parts of vegetables should be either composted or sent to anaerobic digestion.
  12. Say no food waste.  Once you make this decision, you find ways of ensuring that you do not waste.  Educate your family and others on why we shouldn’t waste food and share ways of ensuring that food is not wasted. See more tips on how to prevent fruit and vegetable waste in one of our articles

Putting food in the bin is like taking money out of the purse and throwing it in the bin.  Food is not rubbish, it is precious.  Why waste it when you can eat it. It is morally unacceptable to squander resources; our resources are finite.  Is it morally acceptable to throw away meat knowing that an animal lost its life to be turned into food? A question for the reader to ponder –  You can contact us with your comments via our contact us form.

Wasted food also speeds up climate change due to the Green House Gases released when the food decomposes.  Let’s all do our bit, eat it, don’t throw it!