Monday, 5 January 2015

Green Living: Tips to Reduce food waste

 


Although in recent months this blog has been predominantly beauty based I have been intending for a while to expand the kinds of topics that I cover and I thought January would be a great time to do so. Every month I will be setting myself a challenge to improve (and make greener) an area of my lifestyle or home.
January's challenge is reduce food waste, it's estimated that 15 million tonnes of food get's thrown away each year in the UK and around 50% of that comes from our homes (Source: Love Food hate waste). Shocking figures that I am sure you will agree need to be addressed given that food is such a precious commodity in the world.

    Throughout December I was particularly focused on not wasting food, it's a month where you have extra social gatherings and occasions and it is easy to buy too much or decide last minute to go out for dinner or order a take away. I was pleased on the whole with the results but I want to further fine tune things and continue to cut the amount we waste throughout January too. There are of course financial benefits to reducing waste, January is traditionally a hard month for everyone, especially families with young children and food consists of a big proportion of most people budgets, it makes to sense to get the most from what you buy. Here are a few tips that I have already started to implement and some that I am hoping will help me to improve further throughout January:

*Make a list: Simple but incredibly effective, list making before you go to the supermarket/butcher/farm shop can really help to ensure you are only buying what you need. I find it helps me to look at the calender and see what we will be doing on a weekly basis as a family, after all it is pointless buying ingredients for a roast dinner if we aren't going to be in. I also find it useful to plan which meals you will be eating each day as that way you can plan to use any ingredients with a shorter shelf life earlier in the week with meals that involve freezer ingredients or hardier veg later in the week.

*Stock up your store cupboard: January is the perfect time to clean out and stock up the store cupboard, a well stocked cupboard full of beans, pulses, tomatoes, dried herbs, baking ingredients and dried goods such as rice and pasta will mean that you are able to throw together a meal at the last minute with only a few other ingredients in the fridge and can make the difference between a home cooked meal or ordering a take away, I know that is often the case for us!

*Store your leftovers wisely: My husband often jokes about my obsession with food storage and containers but well stored food stays fresher and is more hygienic, do you ever find half open packets in your cupboard that have seen better days? Let's be honest we have all been there... I personally prefer glass storage to plastic, in my experience it lasts much longer, is easier to clean and there have been some concerns about plastic leaching certain compounds like BPA (Bisphenol A) when heated, so glass is a prudent option. I use glass containers for storing leftovers in the fridge, mine have plastic lids but they do not get microwaved. I have some plastic containers for the store cupboard but I am slowly replacing it as it becomes older and has seen better days, bottom line is glass is a more eco friendly option but use what you have.




*Learn to love leftovers: As mentioned above I love using up leftover food for lunches on my days at home, as I never get a chance to eat them at work as I am in the car travelling around, I try and schedule meals that are likely to have leftovers for the days when I will appreciate them the next day. There are a handful of recipes that we consistently make with left over food, they all lend themselves to being able to use up what you have which is great:
 
Pie: My husband makes the greatest pastry and a pie is a perfect way to use up leftover meat or vegetables, chicken pie with mushrooms, carrots and peas is a firm favourite.

Risotto: I don't think there has ever been a more perfect chuck it all in the pan meal than Risotto, I always keep carnaroli or arborio rice in the cupboard and onions and parmesan in the fridge, when it comes to what else you would like to add the sky is literally the limit, we often have it with butternut squash, peas and tuna, mushrooms and courgettes, seafood, anything goes and often when you just throw it all in it in and hope for the best seems to taste even better.

Tacos: Are a new dish in our house and one that is surprisingly versatile when it comes to eating up leftovers as is also fajitas great for using up peppers and onions and any other veg you may have.

Smoothies and Juices: I am not a big juice person, who has time to clean up all the mess? But I do love a smoothie in the morning, it's a perfect excuse to chuck in that banana that has seen better days or those berries about to turn.

**Note: I know many people that read this blog are vegetarian or vegan, in my household we are not, however I am extremely conscious of sourcing ethically produced meat and limiting my consumption but especially of ensuring that when we do buy meat it does not go to waste, I also am a believer in utilising some of the cuts that otherwise would go to waste such as offal ect... from a planet perspective there are strong arguments to be vegetarian/vegan and if you are I applaud you but for now I am going to continue to be as conscious as possible with what we are buying and using, one of the challenges in the future will be to make more veggie meals so stay tuned**

*Use the Freezer wisely: Something I am not as good at doing as I would like, if you utilize your freezer wisely is can make such a difference to food waste. Instead of buying expensive and out of season berries in winter I am going to make use of the frozen berry mix in my local Farm shop. Even things like certain herbs can be frozen, buying frozen also cuts down on costs substantially. If you have a lot of leftovers that you know you won't be using pop them in the freezer as soon as they have cooled ready for a night when the thought of cooking is too much, it's a good idea to label them with what they are and the date too.

*Prepare for an emergency: Ideally we would all eat extremely fresh nutritious home cooked meals every day, in the real world however where we are all really busy and juggling so much it is easy to succumb to the lure of the takeaway. Health reasons aside the biggest problem I have with takeaways is the crazy amount of unnecessary packaging in which they come, some restaurants abroad will let you take your own container to collect food but in the UK as far as I know you are not allowed to do this due to health and safety. I try and and have an emergency dinner on standby that is healthier than a ready meal, cheaper than a takeaway but still can be put together in a matter of minutes. My current favourite is quinoa and red pepper falafel from the food doctor takes literally seconds to assemble, ten minutes to cook and makes a lovely meal with any other additions you can find in the fridge such as salad, olives and a nice tortilla wrap.


    This is very much a journey and a learning curve for me so I would love to hear your suggestions of how you reduce food waste in the comments and if this is something that you you would like to join in with I am hoping to make it an interactive series so I will be tweeting about my successes and failures and tips using the hashtag #Jangreenchallenge so feel free to join in!

    If you are a regular reader and mainly here for the beauty don't worry I have plenty of beauty posts planned as well as these monthly challenges and updates!

Ana x 


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23 comments

  1. I really enjoyed this post Ana!
    I'm a firm believer in list making - to the extreme as I plan by the month (lunch & dinner) but shop on a weekly basis. I hate waste and find that by planning, I reduce temptation of ordering in and also reduce waste.
    One of my favourite frugal, IFITS (if its in the cupboard!) meal is wholegrain rice, tinned tomatoes, cumin, coriander, onion, garlic and quorn meatballs. Takes ten minutes and is delicious. Great stuffed in peppers too :)
    Looking forward to more of your monthly challenges xx

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    1. Wow that is amazing, I don't tend to plan lunches so much but it's a great idea. Love the IFITS meal quorn is a great one to keep in the freezer :) Xx

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  2. Thanks for sharing! I really hate to waste food. I find the biggest waste is fresh produce. I have been buying more frozen to combat this. I have also started freezer cooking again to limit waste.

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    1. That's what get's wasted in our house the fresh produce, which is making use of the freezer and storecupboard makes such a difference :) Xx

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  3. Good luck with the challenge. It's been my mission for the past couple of years to reduce food waste. You're definitely on the right path with everything you've got planned. Omelettes and soup are also quick and easy ways to use up veg. Herbs are one of the things I find myself wasting - so I now freeze before they turn or use to make great fresh green sauces.

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    1. Great suggestions I have made some soup this week and it was fantastic. Great idea to use the herbs up, pesto is always a favourite Xx

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  4. What a great post! Thank you for sharing these tips.
    I'm usually a very careful food planner, however salads and fresh herbs go to waste once in a while, because I buy more of them than my family can consume in a few days. I think a much better choice would be to keep them frozen.

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    1. Thanks Inga, so glad you liked it. Salad is a tricky one as I am not sure you can freeze it, in the summer I like to grow my own in tubs that way you can just cut what you need XX

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  5. Awesome post Ana! I really enjoy your beauty posts but I'm super excited that you'll write something else too :) I wish you all the best with your challenge, I really hate to waste food so I'm already very careful about that but it's always nice to learn more tips and tricks :) xx

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    1. Thanks Jana, it's nice to branch out a bit with topics Xx

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  6. I really enjoyed this post too. It definitely helps to plan your meals in advance. The freezer and the slow cooker are a family's best friend x

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    1. Agree, we don't have a slow cooker but we often freeze portions for another day Xx

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  7. This is such a good issue to bring awareness too. I have tried to be more mindful recently of every purchase I make (food and otherwise) and also have been trying out new ways to reinvent leftover . When eating out, I try and realistically think of how much I'll eat.

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    1. When you eat out it is all to easy to order too much so that is a great point too! :) Xx

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  8. Great post, looking forward to more like this from you! I live at home and we order far too many takeaways as we cannot be bothered to cook and mainly buy our stuff for dinner everyday so not that much goes to waste but we need to cut down on takeaways!

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    1. Takeaways are so tempting though so I understand. I am trying to limit it to once a month :) Xx

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  9. As much as I love beauty I really enjoy reading other posts like this (geek) hahaha. I too am guilty in the past of buying too much them throwing it away. I think it's great what you are doing. I'm trying to become more mindful over the last 6 month and it definitely makes you more compassionate too! Good luck with your January goal I'm sure you'll do great as you have so many ideas already! X

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    1. It's all too easy to buy too much, being mindful is definitely the key Xx

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  10. Great post, Ana! I need to get my lunch planning into gear, as I tend to end up missing lunch and then eating unhealthy and wasteful packaged/expensive snacks if I'm not careful. Look forward to hearing how you get on. X

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    1. Packaged snacks are so tempting so I hear you on that one, I try and pack something quick and easy for lunch Xx

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  11. These are some great tips, that I can definitely incorporate into my everyday life! I'll have to look into adding risotto into my cooking lineup!

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    1. I adore risotto, favourite meal! Xx

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  12. I am trying to do this too and it is so ridiculously hard! Must not forget back of fridge...

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