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How to reduce food waste?

Sun, 16 May, 2021

900 million tonnes – NINE HUNDRED MILLION – an unimaginable amount of food is wasted each year globally. And households are responsible for about 60% of it. North America holds the dubious first place in the ranking of wasters, but in UK alone we waste 6.7 million tonnes a year.

Some of it is obviously lost at the production and processing level, a lot gets binned by the retailers and not always at their fault - those blasted sell-by dates make it illegal for them to sell items past the date. But at home we chuck out perfectly good food while we can do much better than that.

Planning every meal of the week a week ahead is tedious and a bit obsessive but there’s nothing hard in looking into the fridge every night to check what needs using and thus plan the next day’s meals.

Ignore the sell-by dates – even milk is perfectly good to use a week past its date, if it had been kept in the fridge. You can easily tell if something is off by the sight or the smell. Dip your finger in a pot of cream – you’ll immediately taste if it’s gone bad while the lick won’t kill you.

Freeze all the meat and fish you won’t eat on that or the next day – with the only exception of a good beef steak which actually benefits from aging, unwrapped, in the fridge. Cheese freezes reasonably well and milk even better. I keep sliced bread, home baked or otherwise, in the freezer; likewise a surplus of cake (though there’s no such thing really). Freeze soups. Freeze sauces. Freeze tortillas and wraps. And out of season simply buy frozen vegetables – you’ll waste less of those.

Fruit and veg don’t have to look sterile or pretty to be tasty, though I know how hard it is to convince picky eaters to ‘bite around the blemish’ on an apple, or get a compulsive mushroom peeler to give it up. If it’s wilted, overripe or otherwise manky, use it in cooking. And a good tip for fresh herbs: wrap the bunch in a wet paper towel and put in a resealable bag, it’ll keep it in the fridge for a week. Apart from basil which dies on the next day whatever you do.

5 tips to reduce food waste

[Courtesy of CheaperWaste]

So now for some recipes: make tomato butter with overripe tomatoes, or use them, with a few wilted mushrooms in cabbage with bacon. Vegetable parmigiana is a fridge-clearout dish. And creamy chicken is a chicken recipe template where you can swap the leeks with whatever looks desperate for the cooking pan: mushrooms, spinach, peppers or broccoli.

Never bin a chicken carcass: cook the chicken soup instead. If you have any raw fish offcuts, save them in a freezer bag for a fish pie or Thai fishcakes. Miserable-looking lettuce can go into a stir fry: chicken chow mein doesn’t really need Napa cabbage, half of which will go to waste. And wilting cucumber can be used in spicy bacon cucumber and potato salad.

Always keep egg whites in the freezer – to make angel food cake or financiers. And it’s amazing how you can replace water with all kinds of liquids: milk, yoghurt or juices, to make scones and crumble cakes.

I hope this is useful, if nothing else as a reminder that we can severely stave off food shortage by trying to waste less while saving money too. Keep well and be thrifty!

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About me

Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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