Tonnes of food are wasted every year – £13bn worth in the UK in 2015. With shopping bills getting pricier and landfill getting fuller, reducing food waste makes sense.
The food-themed Upcycle Your Life event in May provided numerous ideas for reducing waste.
The Utilise Cafe made use of food that would otherwise have been wasted, to create tasty frittata and cordial. There were also guides to using leftovers, and other handy resources available.
Transition Loughborough offered free tomato plants, growing tips and an open invitation to join the community allotment – and get home-grown produce for free. They were joined by Loughborough Plastic Pledge, who encouraged people to cut back on plastic use.
The Food Waste Game provided interesting insight into the environmental impact of the food we buy – and a useful reminder that food waste isn’t just about what we see in our bin.
The Master Composters provided expert advice on using food waste for composting, while the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust provided fun in the form of making paper plant pots to plant seedlings, and creating colourful bugs and daisy chain bunting.
With elderflower season imminent, there was also information on creating your own cordial.
If you want to cut food waste:
- Create shopping lists – and check your cupboards to avoid buying things you already have.
- Use leftovers. Mashed potato can easily become potato cakes or fish cakes. Leftover meat and veg can become soup, pasta sauce or frittata. Stale bread can become croutons for soup, or a tasty crisp alternative, when sprinkled with garlic salt (or just salt) and baked. Baked beans can become breakfast slices or toastie filling. Old cheese can become cheese sauce. Scan the fridge before you start to make something from scratch. And there’s nothing wrong with having a ‘fridge buffet’ instead of a traditional meal.
- Keep track of what leftovers you have to see if you can reduce your food waste by changing your shopping list – for example, by buying smaller packets of food.
- Buy products with a long shelf life. Tinned and frozen vegetables can be as nutritious (or more) as fresh produce. Dried beans and pulses last an age and are an easy way to add protein to a meal.
- Store carefully. Keep sliced bread in the freezer if you have space, and dry goods in airtight containers to extend shelf life. Store leftover sauce in ice cube trays so you only defrost what you need. And make sure your salad drawer isn’t too over-stuffed.
- If you can, grow your own salad windowbox or vegetable container garden to reduce salad waste: just cut what you need.
- Act fast. Banana on the turn? Make cake. Spot berries starting to over ripen? Heat with sugar to turn them into cordial, jam or compote. Even just putting something in the freezer before it spoils can reduce food waste.
- Use any vegetable peelings to make stock before adding them to compost to make maximum use of them. You can also add tea bags, eggshells and newspaper to your compost, among other things.
For mord information, visit the Love Food, Hate Waste website.