Have a guess at what makes up the biggest single source of food waste in the UK. Possibly a restaurant chain? One of the big supermarkets? Sadly, and maybe more surprisingly, it’s us. We throw away, on average, £400 of food per household every year, and it accounts for almost a fifth of all solid waste collected by your local council.
In environmental terms, it isn’t just the food itself that’s being wasted, We’re also wasting the energy involved in producing, packaging, storing and transporting it. When food waste is sent to landfill (and most of it is), it decomposes and produces methane, a greenhouse gas which has 20 times the global warming impact of carbon dioxide.
What can you do?
Cutting down on your food waste is a fairly straightforward proposition, but with busy lives or complex personal needs and family situations, we appreciate it can sometimes be difficult to navigate. The general guidelines are:
- Plan ahead
- Only buy what you need
- Keep a close eye on use-by dates, and arrange your fridge/cupboards accordingly
- Use your freezer to store leftovers
To help you stay on track with the first two, we’ve created a free meal planner and shopping list for you to download and print. It’s designed to include a week’s worth of meals, but if you want to plan further ahead, you can fill out several sheets at a time. You might also find it helpful to make a master list of meals which are quick and simple to prepare. This can be useful to fall back on when your weeks are especially busy or stressful.
When you’re planning, try to be realistic, rather than overly ambitious. For instance, don’t buy food for Saturday evening if you know you’ll probably end up ordering a takeaway. It’s also a good idea to keep a few simple meal options on hand, in case your plans change. This might be a good tinned soup, a frozen portion of lasagne or even simple beans on toast.
If you can use the guidelines above to help cut down on the food you waste, we’re cheering you on. And if it’s trickier, or only possible some of the time, we’re still cheering. Eliminating waste is the ideal, but cutting down makes a big difference, too. Do what you can, when you can, and don’t forget to give our free planner a try along the way.