When it comes to reducing waste, food waste is one of the easiest areas to combat. After all, so long as you look after your food, you can eat it!
In the UK, the average household throws away 24 meals every month. This costs each family roughly £60 per month – or £720 per year, which is really quite a lot. There are so many things I could do with £720 right now…
So, as part of my Live LAGOM series with IKEA, I’ve been documenting the ways I reduce my food waste.
How to cut down on food waste
In my home, we’ve cracked down on food waste A LOT. I’m the main cook for my boyfriend and myself – I really like cooking, whereas he prefers to clean – but it’s been a joint effort in how we make sure to save our food.
Here are our favourite 10 ways we cut down on food waste, so that it really is just banana skins going out in the bin each month…
1. Make meals in batches
While I love to cook, I rarely get the chance to cook meals from scratch at every mealtime. It’s led to me cooking my meals in batches, and storing the leftover portions for future mealtimes.
If you’re inclined to start doing this, I’d recommend cooking bigger meals on weekends. Sunday nights are my favourite – I will make a big chillis, pasta sauces, or my favourite lentil soup, and double or triple the recipe’s ingredients.
My boyfriend will then dutifully clean up the kitchen, and scoop the leftovers into a trusty Korken jar to refrigerate. Then it only takes 10-15 minutes to reheat and serve during the week!
2. Freeze overripe bananas
Yes, you heard that right. I love to freeze my bananas. (I’m not sure I’ve ever admitted that before, but it’s true…)
Both of us get through a lot of bananas, but there are times when our bananas go overripe. I quite like the sweetness of overripe bananas, but the texture is so slimy that I can’t quite face eating them at that stage.
So, in comes the freezer! I like to slice my overripe, brown bananas and put them in a food storage container, and pop in the freezer, ready to make a nice drink or dessert by blending them up. My favourites have to be this peanut butter and chocolate smoothie or banana ice cream.
3. Freeze stale bread
The freezer is also great for stale bread. If we ever have bread that goes stale, I’ll make sure to put it in the freezer for future use.
Bread stored in the freezer can keep for up to six months – and in this time, I’ll either toast individual slices for breakfast, or cook them up into a bread-and-butter pudding, or bake to make croutons for soup.
4. Make crackers out of juice pulp
If you’re big into juicing, I’m sure you’ll have cringed at the amount of pulp you have to throw out.
A few years ago I was really into making my own juices, and even did a juice cleanse. Alongside that, I would save the pulp and grill it into starchy vegetable crackers. They go great with salads and dips!
5. Make coffee grinds into a body scrub
Another common bi-product in my kitchen is coffee grinds. I really like making coffee in my Egentlig coffee maker – a sleek version of a French press – but the real hassle comes after drinking my coffee.
Coffee grinds, are very easy to throw away – you can compost them easily – but why not give them a second life instead? I love making mine into a coffee scrub for use in the shower!
There’s nothing better than a cup of coffee in the morning, so why not wake up with the smell of coffee in your shower, and get smooth skin too.
6. Put a watering can next to the sink
While we’re talking about food waste, I also wanted to touch on wasted water. If you’re like me, you may find yourself leaving half-full glasses of water around the house… and that’s not very green!
Instead of tipping them down the sink, I keep our Vattenkrasse houseplant watering can nearby. This saves on needing to use more water for our plants, and also acts as a reminder to water everything!
7. Use a food waste recycling bin
And it’s also worth acknowledging that we can’t save all our food waste. Banana skins, mouldy spots of bread, and egg shells aren’t exactly appealing ingredients, but they can have a better end than landfill…
We’ve checked with our local council and discovered that they do food recycling. All we need to do is put their biodegradable bags in a small bin, and make sure only biodegradable food waste goes in. Items you can put in the food recycling include:
- Plate scrapings
- Bread and cakes
- Egg shells
- Dairy products
- Rice and pasta
- Raw or cooked meat
- Raw or cooked fish
- Animal bones
Common items to check/remove:
- Teabags (some are biodegradable, but most aren’t)
- Fruit stickers (remove and throw away separately)
- Rubber bands
8. Compost your food waste
And finally, if you don’t have a local food waste recycling scheme available, you can start composting at home!
Bea Johnson’s book Zero Waste Home provides a great comparison of different composting methods, or you can refer to her original blog post.
This makes the most sense if you have a garden, but even if you don’t, you could give your compost to a local park, community garden, or allotment.