It's easy to cut down on how much food goes into landfill with a few simple steps each day.
With two preschoolers in my household, food waste is something I see a lot of on a daily basis. With enough food going to waste from those two alone, I am trying to cut down the volume of food scraps and waste going into the bin each week, and subsequently into landfill.
It has taken a bit of planning and organisation, but we've definitely cut down on what we chuck in the bin. Here are some tips your family may find helpful in reducing your household food waste.
If youíve got food that is nearing its use by date, or you know you wonít use it because youíve bought too much, you may be able to freeze it for a later date.
While itís generally widely known you can freeze raw and cooked meat, certain fruits, bread and cooked meals such as spaghetti and lasagne, you may be surprised to know you can also freeze milk, cream, cheese and vegetables to extend the shelf life. Bear in mind that foods such as milk, cream and cheese may not have the texture when thawed, and should only be used for cooking after freezing.
As a general rule, vegetables should be cooked or blanched before freezing.
Be sure to label everything, as not knowing if youíre defrosting cream or milk and then having to throw one or the other away defeats the purpose.
Plan your meals for the week
Thereís no point stocking up on something just because itís on special just for it to go uneaten in the fridge or pantry. You are better off planning your meals, only buying what you need for those meals and avoid chucking unused food in the bin at the end of the week.
Understand use-by date and best before date
By better understanding use-by date, best before date and shelf life, you may be able to cut down on waste by not automatically throwing out foods that have Ďexpiredí past the best before date.
Use-by date is the one to watch carefully, and is usually applied to perishable goods, such as raw meat, fish and , with consumers regularly advised not to eat food with an expired use-by date as it may not be safe to do so.
Anything with a use-by date cannot be sold at the supermarket. If you have foods nearing the use-by date, try using them in a meal, freezing them if appropriate or using them in other cooking or baking.
Best before dates are a bit different in that they are generally applied to frozen, dried and tinned foods. As a general rule, they will be safe to eat for a time after the best before date, but may lose flavour and texture. Like foods with a use by date, you can try using up those foods getting close to the best before date by cooking them in a meal, making them into snacks or smoothies, and freezing them if appropriate.
Audit your goods
Have you ever gone through your fridge, freezer and pantry to see whatís lurking in there? Itís worth a look, as you could find ingredients for meals you didnít even know you had. For example, I found a full jar of Thai Curry Paste and cans of coconut cream in my pantry that I had no idea were there, so guess what was on the menu that week? Yep - Thai Green Curry! Along with some rice that was also in the pantry, some veggies and chicken from the freezer and thatís one less meal to have to buy ingredients for.
Try planning some meals based on the products you have in your pantry, fridge and freezer for a week or two to use them up and reduce the need to throw them away in the near future. You might even find your grocery bill is smaller for the next week or two!
Find ways to use up fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables tend to be one of the foods we throw out the most. Mouldy? Goes in the bin. Looks limp? Bin. Bananas gone brown? Bin. Well, these practices have stopped in my house! We cut off the mould (unless it's beyond saving) and use the fruit or vegetable in fruit pies, smoothies, soups, pasta sauces, banana bread, cakesÖ.there are plenty of ways to use up fruit and veggies that look like they have seen better days.
Save the scraps for the chickens or pigs
Chickens and pigs are pretty good for mopping up all the leftovers you or the kids havenít eaten. Ours get bagged up, kept in the fridge and sent off to my mums to feed her chickens, thus reducing the amount of waste going into landfill.
Invest in a worm farm or a compost bin
If you donít know anyone with chickens or pigs, why not invest in your own worm farm or compost bin? There are farms and bins available that take up minimal space they can seriously reduce how many of your food scraps go into the bin each day. Plus, they create compost for the garden. Itís a win-win!
By doing a bit each day, you could really cut down on your food waste. For more great organising tips, read on here.