Food waste is common in many households. This food waste adds to the organic matter in landfills, emitting methane gas which contributes to global warming.
You can reduce the amount of food waste at home with five simple habits that you can put into practice today.
Plan ahead to curb food waste from the start
Before you do your grocery shopping, make a list of the items you’ll need for the following week.
Studies from the University of Arizona revealed that the more food we buy in bulk, the greater our food waste.
When we restrict the quantities, we buy for a limited period, we become more aware of our consumption needs and how best to meet them. This greater ‘connection’ to food prevents us from stockpiling unnecessarily.
Visit your local farmers market
With your shopping list written out, decide which items you can buy at the local farmers market and which you will need to pick up at the supermarket. If you have a farmer’s market nearby, prioritise buying from there.
Market vendors usually have more freedom regarding what they can do with their unsold produce. While supermarkets are tied to a strict protocol on what can be kept or thrown out, at farmers markets, sellers are able to transform unsold products into items for sale at a later date.
For example, fruit vendors often use over-ripened fruit for smoothies and juices. So, by shopping more often at farmers markets, you’ll be indirectly reducing food waste by a significant amount.
Stick to your shopping list
Be disciplined with your shopping list. Don’t fall into the temptation of adding extra items to your basket, particularly those sweet or savoury treats which are more of a luxury than a necessity. If they weren’t on your list in the first place, it’s because you can do without them.
The only exception to sticking religiously to your list is if you had genuinely forgotten to include a much-needed item. Again, this should be restricted to something you will need before you can go shopping again.
Cook in bulk
Cooking in bulk is a great way to reduce food waste as you’re more likely to use up more of your ingredients. Conversely, if you’re just cooking for every meal sitting, the tendency is to leave remaining food products at the back of the fridge to spoil. This invariably leads to more food waste.
Make it a priority to use ingredients that perish quickly, such as berries or avocados. Store your extra meal portions in airtight containers and keep them in the freezer, ready to pull out and defrost whenever you’re feeling peckish.
Get creative with your leftovers
It’s very common to have leftover food throughout the week. Maybe you’ve cooked too much and the remaining food isn’t enough for another meal portion. Keep your leftovers in a small Tupperware as they’re perfect for adding flavour and texture to your next meals. To easily identify the contents of each Tupperware, buy transparent ones and use white sticky labels to jot down what you’ve stored. This habit will also curb your temptation to get takeaways when you’re next feeling peckish.
Combine the leftovers with your next meal or have them as a side dish to save on ingredients and avoid food waste. If you’re stuck for ideas on what to cook, there are mobile apps that offer recipes based on your leftovers. Some of the popular ones include BigOven, Epicurious and Tasty.
Curbing your food waste starts with making a shopping list for the week – and sticking to it! Divide that list into items you can buy from the farmers market and those you will need to purchase at the supermarket. Cook in batches rather than for individual sittings. Any leftovers should be stored and used for later meals. By following these five simple habits you’ll cut down on your food waste, save money and contribute to a cleaner environment.