Friday, 20 March 2015

9 Top Tips to reduce food waste

Posted by Rosie

I blogged recently about why we waste food and quoted some pretty hair raising figures from 511 million bananas chucked away each year in the UK alone to food waste costing the average family £700 per year.  There are loads of pages on the internet of recipes using left overs and all you need to do is put "how to use up leftover {insert food of choice}" into a search engine and you'll find lots of recipe ideas. I blogged about ways to use up ripe bananas for example.  What I want to try and do here is offer some other slightly more different ways of saving food from the bin by tweaking what you do rather than just searching up a recipe.

9 Top Tips to reduce food waste

Get into making soup and stock 

Have a look at the bottom of many a fridge and veg rack and you may well find a motley selection of slightly odd, not quite at their freshest, vegetables. There may well not be enough of anything for one recipe so why not combine the lot as a vegetable soup?  Again, the recipes are out there if you search on line.  "Fridge bottom soup" is one of my favourites, never the same but always tasty and always low cost.  

Taking this one stage further and get into making stock then you'll be using even more of your food.  For chicken stock combine the carcass of a roast chicken with a few onions and what-ever off vegetables you have to hand.  You can even add the peelings from the carrots etc that you might have eaten with the roast.  You can save peelings and odd left-over vegetables and freeze them until you have enough to make the stock too.  Worried about using too much gas or electricity as they bubble away?  Both these can be made easily in either a pressure cooker or a slow cooker.  The image below comes from Simplebites where you'll find a great recipe for making stock from vegetable peelings

Vegetable Peeling Stock

Weekly fridge check

Once a week and before you go shopping have a sort out in your fridge. See what foods are older and need eating first.  Use these first and plan meals around them, only buying any new ingredients you need to make a meal with them.

Monthly food cupboard check

Ditto your food cupboard.  You might be surprised what you find half opened at the back that needs using up before it spoils.

Use herb stalks

These need not be thrown away and have loads of flavour in them.  For example parsley stalks can go into a bouquet garni or stock (see above) and woody stems of rosemary are lovely laid over roasting lamb or chucked on the BBQ for a fragrant aroma. Stalks can be frozen until you need them.

Freeze small quantities of left-overs/dry bread etc

As with the bones and vegetables that you need for making stock, you can freeze small quantities of things like left over food, stale bread etc until you have enough to use.  With bread keep adding slices to the bag until you have enough to use.  Dry bread can also be cut into cubes ready for croutons (which can be cooked from frozen) or whizzed up into breadcrumbs.

Buy a stack of lidded containers to make storage easier 

If they are stackable that's even better. And with your newly found weekly fridge check such left-overs shouldn't end up at the back going mouldy.  I bought these ones in Lakeland years ago (they come in a bigger size too) and they are fabulous.  Strong, well fitting lids and stackable.

Label everything you freeze

And keep a record of what's in there.  Make sure you date things to and again use the older things first.  This is my failing which is why I once found 7 year old berries in the bottom of the freezer and threw what I thought were kidney beans into a pork stew only to realise they were blackcurrants!

Lower your standards

We have long been conditioned into thinking that perfect looking vegetables etc are what we should be eating and anything a bit limp or blemished in some way is only for for the bin.  This simply isn't true.  So if the end of your carrot is a touch soft, don't worry as in a soup or stock it will taste just fine.  A bit of a brown bit on an apple?  Simply cut it off and eat the rest.  Supermarkets love it when we throw away food as it means we are back through their doors to spend more money to replenish our cupboards and fridges.  It's time to fight back and show them that we don't need to waste all that food and all that money.

Get a pet

OK - maybe this one is a bit tongue in cheek but guinea pigs are much less fussy about the look of their veg and will happily eat peelings etc and our dogs are more than happy to eat small amounts of leftovers. Just make sure you don't feed your pet on foods that are poisonous to it and ensure they get plenty of "proper" food and don't become overweight. Oh and don't end up with a goat as fussy as ours!

Do you have any more tips on reducing food waste or what about favourite recipes?  Please do add a comment below.


  1. Great tips, I've found having a weekly meal plan reduces so much waste as I'm not buying things I don't need x

    1. I'm not good at weekly meal plans as I never really know what is going to be ready to harvest from the veg patch but I know a lot of people swear by them.

  2. So true about labeling. It's amazing what looks like the other when frozen. Even when canning goods some you can't be sure about it unless labeled.
    I miss having chickens sometimes because they were my waste eaters. Now I just try to watch what I toss in the trash and go to the compost bin more often.

  3. Great post! I'm currently saving up all of my vegetable peelings in a bag in the freezer and when I have enough I intend to make some stock with them. We've also recently acquired a compost bin for any leftover food waste. I'd also add if you out your local freecycle groups you can often get unwanted plastic containers for freezing food. I've just done this recently and got a whole box of containers for free :)