When I was growing up in Czech Republic I was always taught to finish my meal so nothing goes to waste, or at least finish my meat (to get the nutritions), even if it meant sitting at the table for extra 2 hours after everyone else had finished eating (btw, I don’t ever remember it happening to me but it did to my sister a lot :-D). Then I came to England and I was told it’s ok not to finish your meal if you don’t like it or you’re full. It felt good not feeling forced to eat everything.
A couple of years ago before me and Charlie went travelling we were trying to save money where we could (food is probably the biggest saver) so we learned to master cooking from leftovers or buying expiring food and putting it in the freezer. That we kept on doing when travelling (apart from the freezer, that is tricky when you’re on the road in hot countries :-D). You really start seeing how much food you used to waste and money as well!
After we came back I started seeing how people around me waste so much food. How they complain they have no money but throwing food away. Every time I saw someone throwing food away that could be saved for another day or reused for something else, I felt heartbroken. I tried to change their mind sometimes but then I gave up.
The first time I actually started thinking about food waste was when I came across a Danish lady “Selina Juul”. She started “The stop wasting food movement” in Denmark in 2008 and educates people what food waste is (as a lot of people don’t even realise what counts as food waste such as buying more than you need or throwing certain bits away) and what to do about it. (here is her website)
There are some other amazing projects that are fighting food waste like app called “Too Good To Go“. You can browse your area, usually just before closing time, and some places offer their leftovers for very cheap. It always tells you location, price and time when you can pick it up. It’s perfect if you’re out and you want to get something cheap or try new things.
There is an organisation “Save food” in Czech Republic (if you put it in Google Chrome you can get the website translated). They do a lot of projects to raise awareness about “Food waste” and host different events such as “Dinner for 1000”, a dinner they prepared for 1000 people from food that would be wasted otherwise due to the “unacceptable” look of it or because it’s close to the expiration date.
I just listened to a podcast about how our diet could look like in a few years time because of the climate change. Some volunteers tested it out for a week and it was eating things like crickets to get protein etc… (more on “Why We Eat What We Eat” podcast).
There are so many things people can change a little bit in their life and it could help a lot all together.
Did you know that food waste is even the food you leave when you’re getting something out of the package?
Here is few things I started to do to reduce my food waste.
Make vegetable stock out of all vegetable leftovers (vegetable skin, off cuts, …) I put in the plastic bag in the freezer and when it’s full, boil it in a pot or slow cooker to make vegetable stock until the water is full of flavour and reduced down. When done, let it cool down and pour it in ice cube trays and put in the freezer. When it’s all frozen you can put them all in one bag to save space. So much nicer and healthier than classic stock cubes.
Cook more portions and either take it to work for lunch the next day or put it in the box and freeze it. Next time you can just take it out and save yourself cooking.
Make sure you always get everything out of the packet. It is a simple thing that seems silly but so much food gets wasted this way.
If you don’t finish your meal, keep it for later. Just put it in the fridge or freezer instead of chucking in the bin, same with a restaurant meal. It has always been a little bit of a taboo to take the rest of your meal home in the box, but why should it be? They have to throw it away even if you didn’t touch it and you paid for it. I don’t really like to go to restaurants that much anymore because of this. You can never guess the portion and then I just end up eating more than I would want to eat because I don’t want to waste it but feel ashamed to take it home.
Plan your meals. I always write down recipes I want to cook and buy food according to that. If I know I will buy the whole pumpkin, for example, I plan two different meals with it because I know I would have too much for one. Then every day you can cook whatever you fancy from your list.
Buying reduced price food is a great way to save money, you can put it in the freezer (yes, you should get a big freezer) and cook it anytime. You just have to be careful if you defrost it, you have to cook it straight away or you can cook it into a meal and freeze it again.
Also, one thing to avoid wasting food is to eat everything out of the fridge before you buy more. It is a bit of a sad look on the last couple of days but if you buy fresh food before you use everything up, there will be waste for sure.
I know that buying reduced price food can leave you with odd things in the fridge but simple solution is to just type things you have left in Google search and some recipe ideas will come up or get creative. 🙂
When your bread is going too hard to eat, you can just take it out of the bag and leave it on the side to dry completely (make sure you do this before it gets mouldy in the bag, then it’s too late). All you need to do is to put it in a food processor or grate it and you have homemade breadcrumbs that can be used for baking or various meals. And it’s not the cheapest to buy even thought it‘s just a dry bread.
There are things you can simply reuse like oil from roasting (just pour it in a closable jar and use it next time), lemon – lemon you use in your tea or need to squeeze a little bit for something, you can use again no problem. Why not to get most of it. 🙂 , tea bag – I personally don’t drink strong tea but even if you do, the tea bag can definitely handle more than one cup of tea. I have also heard that tea is a good compost but haven’t tried that myself yet.
I definitely recommend to watch this video “This is how much food you waste”. It really makes you realise how much of a problem it is and it can be in the future if we don’t take any action.