Worldwide, a third of all food produced is wasted each year, to the value of a trillion dollars. Not only is this a waste of good food and money, it also has land and biodiversity implications, as the land used to grow food that is wasted globally each year is larger than China and uses 25% of the world’s water supply. Food waste also contributes to climate change, as when food is wasted, so too is the energy that went into growing, harvesting, transporting, processing, and preparing it, with each of these stages emitting harmful greenhouse gases.
In Scotland we bin around a million tonnes of food a year, and most of this comes from us, from Scotland’s homes. While some food waste is unavoidable, such as peelings for example, most of this waste is in fact good food that could have been eaten, had it been looked after better and used up. A million pounds a year is up for grabs in this respect, as that is the amount that edible, good food that is binned costs Scottish homes each year, making average savings of £437 per household a year a possibility. If you are a family of four, the amount you could save by stopping food waste from your home is £700 a year.
The good news is that stopping food waste is indeed possible. Our Love Food Hate Waste campaign has been created to help us all make good decisions and develop habits that will make the most of our food.
So, what easy changes can we make to help stop the food waste problem? Well, with around half of the food we bin from our homes wasted because we didn’t use it up in time, planning meals is a good place to start. Research suggests that many of us have also done more of this because of the changes to our lives and to shopping during the pandemic, and that this has resulted in reductions in food waste.
As we return to more normality, there are some really easy ways to make how you shop and cook work for you, and for the environment.
Back in the days before the pandemic, I tried them out myself. I set myself a challenge. What would happen if I took our own Love Food Hate Waste advice and committed to meal planning for four weeks? The results? I enjoyed better and more varied food and learnt, if perhaps not always mastered, a good number of new recipes. I brought food waste down to practically zero and I also saved on average £20 a week on my food shopping. I saved time too, as I wasn’t constantly in and out of the shops. And, dare I say it, I actually really enjoyed it! Here are my top tips:
- Plan your meals to suit what you’re up to during the week: Are you only going to be cooking four nights this week? Great, plan for them. How much time will you have to cook? Look for recipes that will suit that timeframe.
- Cook at least one meal a week that will provide you with enough for an extra meal. That way, you have a ready-made meal for when you have less time. Freeze if you are not going to eat it within two days. Defrost in the fridge overnight ahead of when you plan to eat it.
- Don’t forget lunches! Plan to use up your leftover ingredients for lunch. This is a big money saver, and it’s so much nicer to have proper food, such as soup or a nice salad for example, to look forward to. Healthier too usually, than grabbing or making a sandwich.
- Buy only what you need for your meals, but make sure you remember to get some snacks in for the week too, to avoid impulse buys when you get cravings!
Recently, finding out about and starting to buy more from local suppliers has also helped me buy only what I need. Buying grains and pasta loose if you’ve got a zero waste shop near you is a great way of not only cutting down on packaging waste, but also making you think about what you will actually use. This is even more important for fresh produce of course, and after starting to use my local butcher and pinning down a local fish van, I have definitely reduced the amount of leftovers I need to deal with, just by buying only what I need. I even have a doorstep milk delivery now (undeniably such a treat, and the first time I have been able to have this as I have recently moved to a flat with a main door entrance). This has been a big game changer in terms of unnecessary food shops that might lead to waste. I don’t need to pop to the shop for that pint of milk anymore, so I’m not coming out with an extra five items either.
There are other things that you can do to make sure that the food you buy doesn’t end up in the bin. We all need a bit of leftover recipe advice at times, and our Facebook and Instagram are full of helpful food saving hacks and simple and delicious tips to make the most of your purchases.
If you’d like to involve your business or community in learning more about food waste and how to tackle it at home, we also offer free Love Food Hate Waste training sessions. Contact us to find out more, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wasting food feeds climate change. But by doing just a few simple things differently, we can help protect the planet, and save money in the process too. Not to mention enjoy more great food by making sure it’s where it belongs, on our plates and in our bellies, rather than in the bin.
Smart tip GIFs: