It’s no secret that MA-MA and I love to eat. But what we feel equally passionate about is avoiding food waste. It’s absolutely shocking, but unfortunately we’re almost all guilty of throwing away a lot of perfectly edible food. Every year, 1/3 of all food produced is thrown away, about 1.3 billion tonnes. If you have trouble visualising that, imagine 1.3 billion polar bears – that’s a lot of fluffy bear, and a lot of food!
There are so many different reasons why this happens globally, and of course there is not a lot we personally can do about farming practices in developing countries. However, here in the UK, almost 50% of all food thrown away comes from our homes, and over half of this is food and drink that is still perfectly fit for consumption . This is a situation that surely can’t be that hard to improve!
Food waste is bad for the environment, it’s a complete waste of money, it’s disrespectful to the animal that died in the case of meat (don’t get MA-MA and Dadada arguing on this one) and really, it just makes us sad. So we’ve been researching some ways to reduce waste, and we’ve put together our top tips. I’d say we have moved from being serial offender food wasters to well meaning improvers; we’re far from perfect and welcome any more tips that you have! I will update our list and credit anyone who contributes, so just pop your suggestions in the comments.
Embrace your freezer
Pre moi, MA-MA didn’t even realise we had a freezer. Since going through the whole weaning lark and freezing endless ice cubes of broccoli mush, it is our best friend. It seems that so many people are confused about freezing and defrosting safely, so get organised. Buy some good quality freezer bags and label everything with the eat-by date. Never again will you be staring at a random bit of chicken desperately trying to work out how old it is. Plus you will feel so grown up!
Freeze fresh herbs
We have never used an entire packet of fresh herbs – has anyone? Previously, we would use half a small bunch as required by Nigella and then the rest would fester at the back of the fridge until it went brown and soggy. Now we’ve started chopping up any leftover herbs and popping them in ice cube trays with either olive oil or water. You can then stick them straight in soup at a later date. Yes, sometimes you need actual fresh herbs, but a lot of the time this is more than good enough.
Start open freezing
This is a life changer! Did you, like us, make the huge error of freezing 8 perfectly-made Annabel Karmel veggie burgers together, only to try and defrost one a week later and realise that they are all a great big clumpy block? You need to freeze them flat on a sheet of non-stick paper or a plastic plate, so that they aren’t touching. Once they’re frozen, pop them all in a bag and they won’t stick together.
Organise your fridge
Here, I defer to my great friend Pamela (no this isn’t MA-MA’s other blog, they just happen to have the same name) who is absolute #goals when it comes to organisation. She has some great tips, including taking a photo of your fridge before you go shopping so you don’t need to remember whether you have something or not, and you don’t end up with two full jars of miso paste that will stay there until you move home.
As soon as you become a parent, people love to tell you to batch cook. It’s like everyone from Gina Ford to the cashier in Tesco thinks you’re going to spend Friday night making huge vats of shepherds pie. If that is the case, power to you! Otherwise, it might be easier to make an extra-large portion each time you cook a meal and freeze part of it. If you get into the habit of doing so and have lots of individual tuppawares boxes, it becomes second nature. Thank you Sarah at Whimsical Mumblings for your tip!
Make your boring salad as appetising as it can be
As soon as possible after shopping, chop up lettuce, carrots and cucumber and put it in a tupperware as a ready-made salad for later on. For whatever reason, it is more likely to get eaten than if it’s stuck in it’s Tesco bag. It’s hard enough to eat a salad at the best of times, let alone when you’re starving and you actually have to prepare it!
Don’t go to Waitrose on an empty stomach
I am only human, so when Ma-Ma pops into the supermarket on the way home from my swimming lesson, I go positively insane. She wheels me past the vast aisles of tasty food and when I’m that hungry it drives me mad. You parents are not much stronger, so we really advise you to go shopping when you aren’t starving and won’t be seduced by those chocolate-filled crepes.
Plan your meals
This is another thing that people assume parents are doing on a Friday night. However, it does really help, especially if you then buy your food online. As my pal Sara on Soppy Mum points out, you’re far less likely to succumb to pointless in-store offers that encourage you to buy things you just don’t need. For us, the Ocado app is so good that MA-MA actually does use it on a Friday night!
There are some fab new apps out there that are aimed at avoiding food waste. Too Good to Go is a social enterprise that links you with restaurants and allows you to buy meals from them that would otherwise be thrown away for a bargain £2-3.80. We use it to order donuts or Malaysian food from two local Notting Hill restaurants, which we simply pick up at the end of the day. Knowing that the food you’re eating would otherwise have been thrown away and that it is so cheap honestly makes it taste better! Love Food Hate Waste also has a nifty app that helps you plan your meals and has some good tools to measure portions and some great recipes.
Pray that the following will happen:
– Restaurants will start letting you take home leftovers in a doggy bag. This is totally normal elsewhere in the world, but apparently in the UK you can’t because of health and safety rules. It’s so annoying!
– Supermarkets will stop selling enormous bags of kale and three courgettes. These have never ever been finished, surely?!