According to a study in the UK, not wasting any food will place you in a minority: apparently households waste on average £650 ($1,021) worth of food per year. I will be very surprised if the waste in the US is less although finding comparable data was not possible. Reading this I felt, I believe, rightful indignation; for three reasons.
My first thought (and reason) was that we live in a strange world where 80% of the population doesn’t have enough to eat and 20% consistently over eat. In the light of this distribution, wasting so much food sounds really morally wrong and irresponsible.
Secondly, I started thinking about all the things this money wasted on food could be used to buy. For my family, this is a very generous trip to Bulgaria to see family. There are so many good uses and causes this money could be put to but instead it is wasted on food.
And thirdly, about 19% of the waste in landfills is food which can’t be good for the environment. Biodegradable, true; but food rotting in landfills contributes to global warming.
Right, after raging and raving for some time (this is my temperament) I was calm enough for reason to return. Then I remembered that not even three years ago we wasted loads of food which tells me two things: a) that the practice is really rife; and b) that people can mend their ways if they have a ‘crisis’ and some information. Whilst I cannot help with the crisis (this is entirely your own affair, I am afraid) I can tell you how we stopped wasting food.
I remember the days when we will go to a super market, pile the trolley with random foodstuff, go home put it away, look at each other and think: what shall we have for dinner. This question far too often changed into ‘where shall we have dinner’. As a result, we not only wasted the shopping we had already done but also used to spend a lot on eating out. I will never know exactly how much we wasted this way but I am confident that changing things cut our food bill in half; and we don’t throw food away – ever.
Link menu planning and shopping
We implemented a three step programme, including: cooking from scratch, menu planning and linking our shopping list to the menu. We menu plan for the month but keep the record weekly – this way we shop for perishable food every week. Here is an example:
|Saturday||Lunch: Soup and homemade breadDinner: Homemade pizza|
|Sunday||Lunch: Ham, salad and homemade breadDinner: Roast chicken|
|Wednesday||Soup and cheese on toast|
|Friday||Pork chops and chips|
- Chorizo for pizza
- Cold meats
- Butternut squash
- Sweet potatoes
This way, we make sure that all that has been bought is used.
We started stocking up on two types of food: staples which go in our store cupboard and meat that goes in the freezer. With the stores it works in reverse: we take into account the stores to plan the menu (and consult the whole family, of course).
In a previous life we used to buy loads of ready meals. Now we prepare our ‘ready’ meals by always cooking more than we need for one meal and freezing the rest. Apart from that we cook and freeze soups and these make very nice lunches during the week – at home or in the office.
Do you waste any food? Do you have any tips for not wasting?