My Top Tips To Avoid Food Waste In Your Household
Before I started Weight Watchers there was no real system behind the food shop and definitely no meal plan so looking back it’s pretty hard to think what my food shop strategy was as I wandered up and down the aisles. I never had a list and I’ll be honest, I didn’t really know what we were eating from one day to the next. I think this is how those sneaky treats make their way into the trolley. These days we have a weekly meal plan and the task of doing the food shop is an easy one because I generally know what we actually need.
So there it is – tip number one to avoid waste and having a mountain of out of date food filling your bin. Create a meal plan! In devising this plan you can formulate your shopping list and when you return home with your shopping (or even better have it delivered) you can put in the fridge the things that you need for the next few days and freeze the items that will be used later in the week such as meat, etc. If you’re a savvy shopper you’ll be checking use by dates as you go. Divide any big packs such as meat into portions and freeze as necessary.
The running joke in our house on a Tuesday night, ahead of Wednesday food shop is – said in a sarky voice of course – “it’ll be pasta bake tonight is it? Use all the veg up” that’s the hubby taking the micky out of something I say every week. It genuinely works though, plan a pasta dish at the end of your week and you can literally throw in there whatever you have left over in the fridge. A stir fry would work either it just needs to be a dish where you don’t have to be so rigid on ingredients and quantities. Bingo, delicious ‘use everything up’ meal.
Use your freezer. If you have kids and they’re anything like mine they go on and off stuff as often as the wind changes. Some weeks they can demolish a box of tube yoghurts on the first day of me buying them and other weeks they sit festering in the fridge. If you’re ahead of the game you can freeze them and they become a much more exciting ice pop. Don’t let cheese go mouldy in the fridge, if you don’t think you’re going to use it up, grate it, put it into a bag and freeze it for next time. Use sell by, best before and use by dates as a guideline not a hard and fast rule. I can remember a time when most things weren’t even kept in the fridge and certainly didn’t have dates on them. My Grandma kept most things in the pantry and eggs had feathers and hen poo still on them never mind date stamps, ha! It’s about applying a bit of common sense. Generally if it looks and smells OK, you’ll be fine!
Leftovers doesn’t happen too often in our house as we’re pretty good at planning our portion sizes but sometimes if I’ve made something in the slow cooker like a chilli con carne or a curry, when I’m serving it up I syphon off a couple of lunch portions to freeze. Having these ‘ready meals’ available to you is a double whammy, you can lay your hands quickly on a healthy lunch and you’ve avoided the leftover food from the night before being scraped into the bin. I do this with the kids too if they leave pizza (seriously what is wrong with them?!) as a habit I try not to eat the kids leftovers so I pop the slices into a plastic tub and they get eaten up the next day, if it’s not a big enough portion, I add some beans and result, two meals out of one by simply adding a tin of beans.
Familiarise yourself with how best to store food and therefore give you the best shelf life possible. Butternut Squash for example, best in a cupboard not a fridge, who knew? Same for bananas and also best to separate it from other fruit as the gas given off can shorten the life of the other fruit. You could invest in a banana bag, had no idea they even existed but they are amazing. The skin goes black but when you peel your banana it is still perfect inside, magic! We store bread in the fridge, yes in the fridge. I swear by it. The shelf life is at least double to it being stored in a bread bin and if you’re not a big user of bread, freeze it and defrost it a slice at a time.
Think about your food habits through the week and consider what ends up in the bin. Can you apply any of my top tips to reducing your weekly food waste?